There are more clamps in a woodshop than wood. You simply can’t have enough. They come in many different shapes and sizes, but all do one thing – clamp something to something else. Simple, but crucial. Whether it’s making a jig, securing a machine or glueing up a panel, a clamp is always there for you, offering you a hand. A very strong, clamped hand.

Finding the right clamp for the right job is essential. Some get more airtime than others, which is sad, but that’s the industry. For the majority of the time, they are cumbersome and tricky to use. Just figuring out the safest and most effective way to position a clamp can take a long time. I think they relish this attention on some level, and that’s OK. When all you do is ‘squeeze’, life must get particularly tedious.

One afternoon, I decided to make a bunch of little picture frames out of scrap wood. Instead of using clamps, I thought I would squeeze the glue joints together using just my hands. I frequent the gym, how could this go wrong?

When my father came in the following morning I went to show him my creations. I’m not exactly sure what the cause of the first break was, most likely a mild wind, but the entire frame collapsed instantly in his hands. Oh dear. I moved towards the rest of the frames to investigate. Under what can only be the weight of my intention, the frames began to disintegrate one by one. After the tenth one collapsed I had given up. I figured they were just breaking from indifference at that point.

My father reminded me that I needed the strength of the clamps to bind the glue properly. I knew he was right. My hands were as effective as a moth pushing a Honda. Onwards and upwards. I have strength in different areas, for which I am very grateful.

I may never be a clamp, but a clamp will never be me!


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