Wednesday, November 3, 2010


The other day I posted a picture of the new clamp storage in my shop, and Gye commented about my wooden handscrews. By chance, I was at the same time working on a quick project that presented a particular work holding challenge - one that I solved with the use of handscrews.

The project was a low platform style bed frame for our guest room. I had sworn I would get this done before Celena's mother arrived for the birth of our daughter. Well, Mom's plane arrived, Celena went into labor three days early and we are celebrating the birth of our second child while the unfinished bed frame sits out in the shop and Rebecca is gamely sleeping on the floor - well, on a mattress on the floor, but still.

I needed to joint the edges of some Doug Fir 2x12s for the frame. I do most of my edge jointing in the face vice, but these were too big and heavy for that technique to work (although, if I had a deadman...). I will also edge joint on the benchtop with the stock pushed up against a dog, but this requires the stock to be rather stable, and on the narrow side so that the plane is closer to the benchtop. These boards were neither stable nor narrow, and the resulting wobbliness combined with the plane being close to shoulder high made things awkward.

Handscrews to the rescue! One handscrew clamped to the stock flush with the benchtop stabilized things considerably, and a second clamping the first to the bench made things very solid.

The dog is keeping the stock from sliding, but you could probably do this with the clamps alone - although if you had a knot to plane like I did, the dog is definitely appreciated.

Anyway, just a quick example of the versatility of handscrews. Gotta love them!


  1. I've quickly grown to love wooden hand screws as well. I was making a new saw handle for my back saw that broke, and I had to get creative with the clamping to make a couple cuts.

    I need to get a couple more!

  2. Brander - Yes, they are great at improvised clamping. I think part of what makes them so useful is the ability to clamp with the jaws out of parallel. I want a couple more as well.

  3. Good one Dan,
    Handscrews are great, and I think are often overlooked by woodworkers.

    I like the way you used it in combination with the dog on your bench. I actually mounted 3/4" dowel in the side of a pair of handscrews and turned them into dogs
    Though given the absence of holes on your bench top it wouldn't offer you much.

    I also use them in lieu of a twin screw vise It doesn't add as much height as Chris Schwarz's version but it packs up smaller when done ;)

  4. I too love the Handscrrew. It is amazing just how handy they are and how they can do things other clamps cannot. Used correctly they exert enough force to really hold things solidly and yet not damage the wood surface due to the large contact area. Thanks for your post.

  5. Dan...
    That's a great combination of hand screws and bench dog that offers stability. Nice job.
    Congrats to you and your wife! Here's to baby steps.

  6. Steve - Very cool! And I love the sawbench! Thanks for the inspiration!

    Bill - You're welcome - thanks for commenting. I agree about the larger surface area - it definitely helps with both clamping securely and not marring. I also like how you can adjust clamping pressure towards the toe or heel.

    A&J - Thanks! We are very happy - and tired!

  7. Another great handscrew application - cut a v-notch in each jaw, so when closed they form a square. This will allow you to clamp down on large dowels, curved legs, etc.

  8. Dan, hah... Pretty funny that the inspiration comes full circle on the saw bench since you inspired my design.

  9. Torch02 - Great idea - thanks!

    Steve - You gotta love the internet - the bouncing around and improving of ideas is awesome!

  10. Niiice! :)

    Yeah, that's exactly why I want some: to form a perpendicular "handle" on a workpiece (the one that secures that one to the workbench could be any sort of clamp, really).

    I put wooden clamps on my birthday "wish list", and actually got two of 'em (from my parents-in-law). Neat-o!


  11. Gye - Yeah, they're awesome - glad you got some! You'll find some surprisingly creative uses for them.


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