A few years ago when I got my Shapeoko3 I set about exploring the world of work-holding. I also had a 3d printer and realized that gave me the ability to experiment with some of my own ideas. These days I use double-sided tape whenever possible, and when that fails I have some Oops Clamps which are all fancy and well engineered; but today I found myself reaching for the very first clamps I designed and printed for my Shapeoko. As I pulled them out of the drawer where they’d sat for at least a year I kind of rediscovered their utility and thought I would share them with you.
One of the products I make involved v-carving a design onto a small piece of plywood. I stain the plywood, coat with spray shellac, apply Oracal 831 vinyl mask then carve right through, finally applying shellac to the carve and then paint. I typically will make up a large number of panels and leave them at the step before applying the mask so I can pull from that pile as I sell different designs, and I’ll make a given design in a batch of 3-6 at a time.
Because I use cheap box-store plywood it’s not uncommon for there to be some warp in the plywood. As my panels are only 7×5″ the warp is usually minor, and taken out by the tape holding it down; but not today. Several panels were lifting in one or more corners, and of course pressing those corners down would lift the opposite corner, so clamps were needed. I could have used my Oops clamps, but I’d have had to swap out the hardware for shorter pieces as the panels were only 0.2″ thick, so instead I reached for the edge clamps I’d designed and made years earlier.
These clamps are intended for thin stock; the idea is the clamp lays almost flat against the wasteboard, with the end of the clamp applying both downward pressure and preventing lateral movement. You could use thicker stock by making a thicker version of the clamp, but the clamp should always be mostly flat against the wasteboard when attached.
A few things I like:
- Aside from the hardware they’re all plastic so they’re safe to hit with the endmill. They would also work well cut from most hardwoods.
- They only extend on top of the material about 1/4″ leaving almost the entire surface clear for carving. I made the clamping end 2″ wide to give more contact area despite the smaller overlap.
- They’re extremely low profile and shouldn’t interfere with dust shoes or any other moving component.
- They can double as a basic fence or alignment tool
I’m offering the following files for free for anyone who wants to try these clamps themselves, in formats ready to be printed or CNC cut. I also have the same files available from my Etsy store for $1 if you’d like to support my efforts in offering these resources and videos. If you want a set of ready made clamps, use the Custom Order button on my Etsy store (not yet available) and we’ll work something out.
The download is a zip file containing both the project files and instructions to get you started. Included are:
- Carbide Create (.c2d) file with design and toolpaths
- Vectric Cut2d/VCarve file with design and toolpaths
- STL file for 3d printing or setting up toolpathing in another program such as Fusion 360
- Dimensioned drawing