Shopping for Panel Clamps

Several different suppliers offer clamp systems that hold boards in a flat alignment while applying pressure for the edge glue joints. August 31, 2010

I once saw a clamp system for gluing up boards with the key feature of keeping the boards flat to each other. It is not a wood caul clamp. I think it shares its name with the inventor - something like "Dave's clamp." I was impressed with the concept but must have been scared by the price. I'll soon be doing a glue up with some gnarly wood and might be able to use some extra help. Thought it could be a good time to revisit this guy's invention. Any ideas?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor R:
Larry's clamp.

From the original questioner:
You nailed it! Thanks. I was right, it is an expensive tool, but it looks like it will do its dedicated job very well. However, I think I'll reconsider the Veritas panel clamps. Any feedback on those?

From contributor B:
I have a Larry's clamp and it works very well for keeping glued pieces in alignment while tightening the clamps. A higher volume shop might use a panel flattener on a rotary clamp carrier. Since getting better clamps (JTL rack), I haven't been using it. If your material is cut correctly and your clamps are heavy enough not to bend, it isn't necessary. (If I had a panel flattener I'd use it.) My material starts at .93 thick (15/16 H&M) and surfaces out at .82. Most perceived bow or warp problems are from bad edges and too much pressure for the stiffness of the clamp. If the glue up is bowed when you tighten the clamps, it will be warped when you remove them. The next issue is storing so that the same amount of air circulates to both sides, i.e., not laid flat on a bench for any length of time.

From contributor S:
If you are considering the Veritas panel clamp, I would suggest that you look at the Shopsmith Double-Bar clamp. I've used them for over 20 years and they are excellent.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. I've just watched the video. I see they use banana boards, which is how my home made jigs have been shaped. But here it is all ready to go with lots of adjustability and I'm assuming better precision than my jigs.

Is the given length (24", 36") the tool length or the actual clamping capacity between the screws?

As for being a high volume shop - nope - not these days. My volume is only what I can produce in a day. No project is ever the same as the next. Though I do believe that either the Veritas or the Shopsmiths are clamps I would use on a regular basis.

From contributor S:
That's a good question. The size is the actual capacity.

From contributor J:
Before we got a Rosenquist, I used a long bank of Plano clamps. They mount along a wall and clamp vertically.

From the original questioner:
I don't have the wall space.

From contributor L:
We've got a Taylor clamp rack and use some cheap, simple flatteners. They are blue painted vice grips with a long bar welded on the top jaw and a cross bar welded on the bottom. They may have come from Taylor? They work better than they look.