Clamp Racks


Clamp racks are a feature in virtually every woodworkers shop. The alternative, or course, is to simply lay them on the ground or under a workbench where they take up valuable shop space. This tutorial is nothing new and I use designs you have probably seen many times before. So why should you continue reading this tutorial or watch the embedded video above? Well, it is my experience that even though I have seen the same project done by ten different people I still on many occasions find better ways to make the same thing just by observing the various methods employed to achieve the same goal. So if you are in the market for a clamp organization method take a look at what I have setup in my shop and maybe it will help you decide on what to do in yours.

The Build

The start, I cut all the strips that make up the bodies of the racks at the table saw. All the clamp racks are made from ½” birch plywood.

Because ½” plywood isn’t quite thick enough to support the weight of my clamps I am laminating the strips together using standard wood glue. This process will produce three 1” thick strips of plywood and will require lots of clamps. Since it wasn’t necessary to get 100% adhesion I decided to use spring clamps to hold the strips together while the glue dried. This was more than adequate for laminating these strips together. I did run out of spring clamps for the third laminated strip and ended up using f-style clamps as a replacement.

With the strips out of the clamps, I squared them up and cut all the pieces to length at the miter saw. Exact dimensions can be obtained from the plans that are available for download.

All of the clamp racks are reinforced using 45-degree horizontally positioned blocks made of the same 1” thick laminated plywood. I cut the miter at the miter saw with the bevel angle set to 45-degrees. To ensure all the cuts are identical I use a stop block attached to my miter saw fence.

After laying out the position of the slots I will be cutting, which will accept the clamps, I drill through holes in what will be the clamp racks top surfaces. These holes establish the end of the slot. I do this with my drill press and a Forstner bit. Different size Forstner bits are used based on the size of clamp that the slots will accept.

After applying blue painter's tape to the bottom side of the clamp racks top surfaces I use my band saw to hog out the rest of the material establishing the slots for the clamps. The blue painter's tape is used to control tear out on the bottom side of these surfaces.

With all the woodworking finished assembly can now begin. I first assemble all the pieces with glue and 1” brad nails. I reinforce all the connections with 2 ½” drywall screws. Pilot holes are drilled to prevent splitting of the laminated pieces.

This completes the construction of the first two clamp racks, it’s time to move onto the third. I begin by ripping a piece of the laminated plywood I glued up earlier down to the width of a standard 2 x 4. This is done at the table saw.

The body of this third rack is made up of a section of kiln dried 2 x 4. I cut it to size at my miter saw. With the body cut to size, I cut three support pieces from the strip of laminated plywood I just ripped to size at the table saw. This is also done at the miter saw.

With all three support pieces ganged together, I drill a hole through all three pieces at once. These holes will accept a ¾” dowel I will be threading through them during the assembly process. Drilling all three pieces at once ensures that they are all in the same exact spot. I cut the dowel to length at the miter saw.

After threading the dowel through all three pieces, pilot holes with countersinks are drilled before assembling the pieces of this rack with 2 ½” drywall screws. To make sure that the dowel stays in place I sink a 1” brad nail through each connection point.

To attache all the racks to the walls I use drywall screws with drywall anchors. I used 2 ½” drywall screws making sure to utilize as many studs as possible. Placement dictates where the screws will fall so screwing into a stud is hit or miss. Although I don’t show the construction of the fourth clamp rack, I ended up making one to accommodate my large k-body clamps. Its construction is identical to the first two racks made in this tutorial.

This was a fun but tedious process but overall I am happy to finally have a home for all of my clamps. Before this project, my clamps lived in a dark corner of my shop splayed out on the ground and it was a chore finding the clamps I needed when performing a glue-up. It is so nice to have them up and out of the way but also ready to use at a moment’s notice. My clamping workflow has greatly increased because of this organization project and I encourage you to do the same for your workshop. If you would like to build these clamp racks for yourself they are available for download below.

Project Plans

Clamp Racks
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