This article was originally posted in Instructables and is reposted with permission from Scott D. Reinhardt.
Most of the time I work alone, so clamps are my imaginary helper.
Sometimes my ratchet clamps break. Not being a person to throw things away, I keep them in a scrap box.
Well, I was in the need of clamping some oddly shaped items and I remembered my box full of broken clamps.
I came up with a simple solution. I bent some S-hooks onto an O-ring and mated them with the broken ratchet clamps. This allows me to clamp in many directions for oddly shaped items.
In this configuration I am using three clamps, but I could add more if I wanted to. In the past I've made several holding fixtures and most of them take up valuable space when not in use. This assembly breaks down for easy storage and to create other configurations.
Step 1: Components and Tools
You'll need the following components and tools for this bar clamp project:
- 2-inch diameter O-ring with a 1/4-inch wall thickness
- S-hooks: 1 3/4-inch length S-hook with a 1/8-inch wall thickness. (I used three — but not all S-hooks are made equally. I purchased a few sets and discovered they sometimes broke in the bending process, therefore, I went with S-hooks from rubber tie-down straps.)
- Ratchet bar clamp (I used two 6-inch clamps and one 24-inch clamp. I used broken clamps and removed the damaged/broken finger end. Note: clamps that can take the one finger off will work for this project.)
- 5-inch bench vise (almost any vise will work)
- 15-inch adjustable wrench
- Large Channellock pliers
Step 2: Bend the S-Hooks
Here's how I bent the S-hooks so they'd work for this bar clamp project.
First, I placed half of the S-hook into the vise. Using the 15-inch adjustable wrench, I put a 90-degree bend into it by pulling the wrench towards me.
I repeated this process on all 3 S-hooks.
Then, I put the same part of the S-hook that was in the vice onto the O-ring.
Using my large Channellock pliers, I closed the end permanently to the ring. I did this for all 3 S-hooks.
I choose to keep them mounted all in the same manner and direction.
Step 3: Assemble the Bar Clamp
I choose to make a 3-clamp multidirectional ratchet bar clamp system. (Wow, that's a mouthful.)
Because I designed this bar clamp to take apart, "assembly" is a loose term.
The clamps have holes in the end of the bars; the bent S-hooks are mounted into these holes.
The S-hooks on the ring are all facing in the same direction, so all the clamps are positioned correctly to close around an oddly shaped item.
Note: Setup for clamping might be easier if you permanently squeeze the S-hooks to the ratchet clamps. I didn't try this myself, but I do know that if they were kept permanently all together, the bar clamp would collapse nicely to hang on a wall.
Step 4: Clamping Options
Keep in mind that I used ratchet clamps from my scrap box. I'm pleased to have a new use for them.
Different lengths of bars and different size clamps, along with different rubber pads, can be used for specific applications.