After making my modified Paulk workbench and making changes to it again to add clamping holes I received a ton of recommendations on how to modify different kind of clamps to make them easier to use on the bench. There really are a lot of options for this setup.
When I initially drilled the holes in the top I modified a few inexpensive Harbor Freight clamps so that the head of the clamp was removable. This would allow the clamp head to be reattached from below and pinned in place with a nail. The main reason I went with this route was because I wanted to work with what I had on hand and I also wanted to present another idea that I had not previously seen.
It works well while in use but as I used the system more and more I thought it would be beneficial to try another approach that yielded less frustration. There are two objectives with this clamp. Number one is to have a clamp that is easy to use. That’s the whole reason why I’m going to use a different style clamp. And number two is to still be able to use the 3/4” holes in my table top. 3/4” is the maximum size I want in the work surface so I don’t run into any problems with items falling in the holes. So I decided to use an old set of Irwin Quick Clamps as my starting point. These have been used and abused in my shop over the past few years so I’m OK with buying another set to replace them for normal use.
Step one is to remove the stationary clamp head on the bar. This is all hard plastic with no metal fasteners so I used my heat gun to warm it up enough to make it soft. From there I broke the head off with a hammer. The remaining piece stuck on the bar was removed with a hammer and a nail punch. It’s best to not heat the plastic up too much. You just want it to release from the bar, not melt.
With both bars completely free from the clamps I used my hand held angle grinder to cut a piece off each bar at 45 degrees. The length of bar removed was equal to the distance from the end of the movable clamping head to the bar when it is installed. Looking back on this I think the 45 degree angle isn’t necessary as you could just as easily make a 90 degree corner without using a mitered joint.
I used my angle grinder to clean up the corners to make a 90 degree angle. To hold them in place while I get the first tack weld completed I used a metal clamp to secure them to my metal vise. You can see in this image the straight clamping head of the metal clamp I used. This was a previous attempt at grinding away material on a welding clamp to see if it would work with this workbench. That didn’t work out as planned though due to the thickness of material at the bend.
I ended up laying down a lot of weld on these joints. Not only to make sure the weld penetrated the entire joint but also to build up a bit of material in the inside corners. After welding, and grinding, and welding, and grinding, and welding, and grinding I was able to establish a smooth radius that went into the 3/4” holes without a problem.
And here they are in use. This was a project that wasn’t really planned. I was bored and wanted to spend some time in the shop and this was the result. I’m writing this article a couple weeks after I completed these and I really like them. They are super easy to use. The only downside is they don’t offer as much clamping force as a screw type clamp. I’ve found myself using them to create different types of bench dog situations for batching operations with multiple pieces at a time.