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Toggle Clamps & Workholding Uses

Woodworkers and machinists often find toggle clamps and workholding devices to be essential tools for turning a simple crafted project into a customized masterpiece. As toggle clamps have very specialized applications, they aren't used as often as C-clamps. However, when it's necessary to solve a tricky clamping problem, toggle clamps may be the better solution.

What are Toggle Clamps?
There are two basic types that work when:

  • Force is applied down toward the clamp's base
  • A plunger is driven laterally away from the base

There are several options for toggle clamps and workholding devices. These quick-action clamps can be affixed to a fixture or bench, or be handheld. The work is released when the user moves the handle.

3 Common and Important Applications

1. Coping with Narrow Rails
Unless the workpiece is backed up somehow, cabinet door rails are dangerous to pass by a coping bit. The rail can turn into the bit without adequate support. Not only will the cut be ruined, but your fingers are at risk. Toggle clamps can be used to construct an easy-to-make coping jig. Take a 1/2" thick base piece and top it with a spacer board as thick as the rails. Two toggle clamps will pin and immobilize the rail against the base. The spacer board becomes a stop and sacrificial surface. Sliding the jig by the fence and the bit will create great coped cuts one after another.

2. Cutting Tenons Safely with a Table Saw
It's unsafe to simply stand the workpiece on its end and feed it freehand through the blade. Instead, create a tenoning jig from scrap with two toggle clamps. Build a tall fence to safely stand the workpieces vertically. Mount the two clamps to a spacer attached to the fence behind the workpiece. The workpiece can now be fed perfectly and safely through the saw. This rip fence can be adjusted as needed for cheek cuts.

3. Locking Down Miter Joints
Closing miter joints with bar-style clamps isn't easy. Toggle clamps can be used with a perfectly square back-up block and base form to apply lateral force, creating a simple mitering station. Use painter's tape to prevent glue from sticking to the base and back-up block.

Having a couple pairs of each type of toggle clamp on hand can prevent unnecessary hand strain while making the workplace safer. Toggle clamps will quickly become essential tools that you can't imagine not having on hand. For the leading brands of industrial tools and accessories, Reid Supply always offers thousands of high quality selections to choose from.

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