Creative Woodworks & crafts 2003-03, страница 49

Creative Woodworks & crafts 2003-03, страница 49

CLAMPTRAK

reviewed by Joseph M. Herrmann

When Creative Woodworks & Crafts contacted me to see if I was interested in testing and writing a review of the new ClampTrak thai Steebar Corp. recently added to their catalog, T was excited. I first saw a similar setup when I took my Industrial Arts woodworking students on a field trip to a nearby Ethan Allen furniture factoiy some years back. I remember thinking that it would be great if such a setup was available to mc either at school or, better yet, at home. I thought of how much easier it would make clamping up project parts! It's just too bad that I didn't give it a little more thought at the time—then I could be the one marketing it instead of writing a review on it!

Whenever 1 review a new tool, I always give a lot of thought to how well it performs in the following areas:

Is it easy to assemble? T hate to spend hours putting a tool together. I truly believe that if assembly takes a lot of time, the manufacturer should do a little more before shipping it out.

Are all the parts there and is the instruction manual clearly written? Nothing irritates mc more than having to go out and buy parts that I already paid for or thinking that I should have studied mechanical engineering before trying to assemble my new tool.

Docs the tool actually do what it claims to do? If it doesn't, why should 1 or anyone eke purchase it?

When the package arrived, 1 took out all the parts and laid them on the table. They were all there. All the components were substantial, well designed and very well finished—there were no rough parts. I believe that a well designed tool is judged by the quality of the individual components, including the screws, washers and other "stock" parts.

The unit was very simple, consisting of a 36" aluminum track, 3 sliding brackets, and some mounting hardware. Additional units can be installed side-by-side to provide an unbroken clamping station of unlimited length. The only items that I had to purchase were those (hat the manufacturer clearly stated that I would have to provide myself: clamping fixtures, pipe that was threaded on both ends, pipe caps for one end of each pipe, and something from which to make the required shelf. Although 1 set the unit up to use 3/4" pipe, the manufacturer even took into consideration (hose woodworkers who prefer to use 1/2" pipe clamps by including large washers that enabled the smaller size pipe to be used with (he jig.

The pipe is attached to the sliding brackets with pipe caps that have been screwed to one end of the pipes. 1 normally do not have the pipe for my clamps threaded on both ends because it's just not necessary. I had to purchase new pipe for this review, though I could have just had threads cut on a pipe that I already had. You can see just how substantial the aluminum track is and how the sliding bracket attaches firmly to the track but Is still free to slide along the track. It is a very hefty jigl

The fully-assembled ClampTrack unit.

The instruction manual was clearly written and included some very well executed drawings that enabled me to set up the clamping jig with ease. This look me about a half hour. My biggest problem was deciding where to mount the unit in my shop. Since 1 have virtually no unused wall space and because my new shop has yet to be finished, I opted to install it on my garage wall for this test. My garage has regularly spaced stud walls which eliminated the need to drill inio concrete block, but lead anchors are provided with the unit in case you have to drill. The 4" lag screws, also provided, were more than adequate to support the stated 75 lb. weight limit per 3' of track.

1 chose to use 36" pipe in my clamps. The instructions stated that my unit should be mounted 77" from the floor. Instructions are provided for pipes of lengths from 30" to 48".

The ClampTrak is designed to hold material being clamped at a 15 degree angle from the wall. This is accomplished by resting the ends of the clamps on a shelf which, in itself, is great for keeping the glue, a putty knife, a wet rag, and a brash handy! Depending on (he length of pipe used, the width of this shelf varied from 9-1/2" to 14-3/4". The instructions stated that my unit required a shelf that was 11-1/4" wide.

I now use the ClampTrak mainly to join multi-board panels, but it can be used to join face frames and other smaller glue-ups as well. I find the fool to be exactly as described in the literature—it really is like having three hands to help with the clamping.

Tor my test, I arranged (he panel in the clamps, scribed a witness mark to be sure I glued up the panel as 1 had planned, and applied Ihe glue. The ClampTrak held the stock in perfect alignment and allowed mc to position the individual pieces just as I wanted them. Once the glue had been applied, I tightened the clamps. The only drawback that 1 saw was that I couldn't easily scrape the excess glue off the back of the panel as T am accustomed to doing—but I can do that once the glue dries, so it's not a major problem. The shelf was invaluable for holding the supplies needed for the process.

Every time 1 read a review of a tool, 1 always want to know if the reviewer would purchase the tool with his OWN money. T would, but not for my routine gluing jobs. Because 1 sell much of what T design, I actually make limited production runs—often using 40 or 50 clamps at one time. The ClampTrak isn't designed for that. 1 did, however, purchase one to use in .specialised situations. I can definitely see where I can design a jig so I can use the ClampTrak to clamp my Chopping Blocks. 1 haven't been happy with my current process and 1 am positive that the ClampTrak will solve that problem!!

ClampTrak is available from Steebar Corp. See their ad on page 2 of this issue.

If

12 • Creative Woodworks & Crafts March 2003 Base

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