Utilitarian Objects

clamps 2.jpg


I’ve wanted (i.e. needed) newer, better clamps for a while now, and the big C clamps get in the way of everything. The kant-twist type clamps are amazing but cost prohibitive, so I figured I could probably just make them. I started prototyping with some left over 7 gauge (3/16”) steel plate in the shop. The thick plate seemed like overkill, but then overbuilding a clamp isn’t the worst idea.

The rounded clamp with the protruding side bolts (above right) was the first prototype and more closely resembles the manufactured ones. Due to the significant weight and the extra thick, flat edges, it sits solidly on almost any side, making it easy to position material in the jaws with one hand while turning the handle and closing the jaws with the other. The second version has sharper corners for even more balance and stability, and countersunk screws so the faces sit flat when it’s on its side. And it’s a little more Darth Vader, which is always better. They can be broken down so any part can be fixed or replaced. Also, if I need soft jaws or jaws with a different profile for some fancy clamping (i.e. clamping a corner or some round stock), they can be swapped out in a flash.

The next version will have a few significant changes that will make it even stronger and easier to use, and should streamline the fabrication.

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clamp 4.3.jpg
~ clamp 1.jpg

The Stitching pony

I’ve since learned that when someone asks you to make them a stitching pony, what they mean is, please screw some 2x4s together and stick a rubber band around it. Left to my own devices, this is what happened instead.

With the idea of cheap 2 x 4s out the window from the start, the decision making came down to balancing, in no particular order, strength, functionality, comfort of use, and, of course, aesthetics. The recipient has a deep love of oak, brass, old tools, and old furniture, so that was the starting point. 

The oak has lark’s tongue chamfers both for comfort of handling, and so the edges of the base don’t cut into the thighs if it’s being used in the sit and straddle style. It’s heavy enough with all the hardwood and steel that it’s not necessary to straddle it for stability, though. The oak’s been darkened with an old world ammonia fuming, and finished with a true Danish oil. 

The locking handle (below right) is shellacked Brazilian rosewood with a brass cam and a blackened steel shaft. On the other side, the tensioning handle is blackened steel with a brass “dome” set between it and the wood (bottom left). This keeps the pressure from the handle centered regardless the angle of the tension rod, and it keeps the handle from binding on the wood. 

It’s about 17-18” tall and 6-1/2” wide. All parts (except for the wood screws) were milled, machined, and finished in the shop.

pony 1 (oak desat).jpg
pony 2 (darker).jpg
pony 3.1.jpg
pony 4.jpg
pony 5.jpg

wax crucible

I designed and made this crucible for someone who found herself engaging in the ancient task of pouring wax seals. She needed to melt enough wax to pour a number of them efficiently (and repeatedly) in one sitting.

The bowl is spun, sanded, brushed (outside) and polished (inside) copper. It measures approximately 4-1/2” in diameter. The base is 1/4” thick, blackened steel. (Seen here without the fancy and aesthetically pleasing beeswax candle heat source.)

wax bowl 2.1 (wider).jpg
wax bowl 4.jpg

Original Prototype - It seemed functional enough to me, but I was told it needed improvement.

spoon prototype.jpg

Process pics

It almost never occurs to me to take photos while I’m working, but once in a while I remember.

Stitching pony tension knob from what, I assure you, was one ugly chunk of steel. All steel is beautiful underneath.


The sides of the first clamp coming into being. 1 - The plate that will become all four sides, with all holes predrilled. 2 - Milling the long sides. 3 - An action shot of that clamp on its maiden run, shaming the big C clamp behind it (though the C clamp’s only purpose in that operation, to be fair, is to dampen vibrations). 4 - Although it’s just a jig for milling the clamp sides, this is one of my favorite objects in the shop.

For some broader examples of my work, click the link below.