sharpening chisels and block planes

Making a Simple Clamp Rack

I have a motley assortment of woodworking clamps that I kept in various milk crates and stuck onto ledges.

I finally got around to making a wheeled clamp rack to deal with the ever growing collection.

Sometimes on the internet, you see clamp collections in perfect alignment and all the same brand. This is not what I have. I've never had much money and at the beginning could not really afford great clamps. I'd rather have 5 so-so clamps than 1 really good one. Now I buy as good as I can afford and enjoy the better tools but it was not always so.

woodworking clamp rack

Designing your Clamp Rack

Take a look at your clamps and what you are likely to get in the near future and in particular look at the longest ones.

Then make an estimate of how wide your clamp collection is. If you have 25 clamps and each is an average of 1 inch wide, you need AT LEAST 25 inches of space. You then need to add spacing otherwise the clamps will not be easy to reach. Don't worry about leaving too much space. There is no such thing as too much storage space for clamps.

Take a look at the type of clamps you have. Bar clamps need different storage from pipe clamps and C-clamps.

Don't get caught up with having a spot for each little odd clamp you own, particularly if it's an odd shape or size. Even if you only manage to house the bulk of your collection you are still way ahead of the milk crate system.

Do keep in mind where the rack is going to live. I put wheels on mine and this has proved useful.

Finally, keep safety in mind. You don't want clamp bars sticking out where you can run into them. That's why my clamps are stored up and down. The only vertical clamps are facing towards the inside and don't stick out. These photos are taken as I was figuring out where to put things. There are currently no clamps sticking out. Also, don't make your rack top heavy and un-balanced. I have a lot of weight at the bottom and what weight is at a higher level is located further inward towards the centre of the rack, so there is less chance of tipping the whole thing over as I roll it around.

How is the rack built?

The clamp rack is essentially a box with 2 heavy uprights and a couple of heavy shelves. A pipe runs across to hold the c-clamps. Screwed across the front, is a 2x2 with 1 1/8 inch holes drilled all along. These store the long pony clamps.

inner supportinner support

There are 3 cross pieces running across the box part. One is at the very front of the rack, actually on the right of the photo, and has a series of holes drilled in to take the pipe clamps and some of the longer bar clamps. The other 2, support the heavy upright 2x6. One is at the top the other at the bottom and give a solid support to the upright.

I started with an old cupboard I had taken out of the house while renovating the bathroom. It's 3/4 inch plywood and solid. The size was good and I had it. I removed the door and hinges along with the shelf supports.

I also had a 10 1/2 foot 2x8 board left over from making the garden raised beds so I cut it down to 6 inches (leaving me a strip 2x2 which I used for supports) and halved the board lengthwise to about 5 feet. The height works very well at 5 feet plus the height of the wheels.

The box was just wider than 18 inches and 24 inches long. Height is about 18 inches.

side supports

Along the long side of the box I screwed in 2x2 strips so I would have something to attach clamps on. It also helps to solidify the edge of the box.

The whole structure is very rigid. It has to be able to carry quite a lot of weight and could be subject to twisting.


This photo shows the 2 uprights and one of the 2 shelves. I put the shelves on 2x2 pieces. I first tried screwing the shelves from the sides but the structure was not as strong or as rigid as I wanted so I added the 2x2 supports and that worked. The weight of the clamps can really add up so stronger is good. The shelves are high enough to allow long bar clamps to fit in. The longest ones go almost all the way to the bottom of the box.

c clamp barc clamp bar

I have a lot of c-clamps and decided to use a pipe to store them. I had one just a little longer than required. I did not cut it because it is actually intended to go on a pipe clamp and is threaded. If I decide to get the hardware I can just replace the pipe. The c clamps fit on very nicely and for the most part they balance nicely so that the clamps stay on the pipe without having to close them. There are a couple that do not, you can see the little red one is leaning back, the silver coloured one is just balanced. The balance makes a difference because the clamps move as the rack rolls around and the ones that are not balanced fall off. I clamped these onto one of the shelf.

The bit of pipe that is sticking out turned out to be a good place to hand my wooden clamps. The shelf just below the c-clamps is working well to hold the spring clamps.

wheeled base

Finally I made a wheeled base and screwed the rack onto it. I made a separate base because the bottom of my box, actually the back of an old bathroom cabinet, was only 1/2 inch thick and I wanted the whole perimeter of the box supported. I just screwed the base onto the box. I got the wheels at Canadian Tire. This was the only things I had to buy, the rest was all inventory. I bought the wheels because they need to be quite strong. These are rated at 55 kilograms each. The rack moves easily with the wheels.

email me if you find mistakes, I'll fix them and we'll all benefit: Christine