Mobile Woodworking Clamp Storage

the old clamp rack I have a clamp cart... the one on the left.  Actually, "had" is more accurate.  It served me well for several years, and it was a good cart, but it was also a beast!  It was very heavy, and although it doesn't translate well from the photo, the base is a half sheet of " plywood.  That's 16 square feet of floor space gone.  I started this project to see if I could have convenient (mobile) and effective clamp storage while cutting down on the space requirements a little.

I've seen clamp storage articles that seem to want to place them in some arbitrary spot in the shop, typically on a wall, and leave them there.  They always look good in the mags, but I don't want to give up the wall space and I'd rather have the clamps close to where I need and will be using them.  Big as it was, my old cart wasn't really mobile even though it was on wheels.  But, I was still charmed by the idea.  Thus, I went looking...  I remembered that New Yankee fella had built a mobile cart, and I found plans for Norm's cart here.  I found a couple of others in the Woodweb Knowledge base.  Mine is of my own design and borne of my own requirements, but with a little inspiration from the articles above.  In the end, it wound up being just the size of the original cart requiring just 4 square feet of floor space, and I was able to get all of my clamps on it.  If I get a clamp collection like that yankee fella, I may have to do this all over again.

Anyway, the best thing about this cart is that it cost me virtually nothing to build.  I'm a packrat by nature.  I keep way too many hardwood scraps and any plywood cutoffs wider than about 4" go in the "hold on to it" pile also.  I was able to reclaim the casters off of the old cart, and except for a few screws, four 2 x 4's and a 2' square piece of plywood, I was able to use scrap and cutoffs from other projects to build the whole thing.  I don't think I have more than $15.00 bucks in it, but even if I had to start over and buy new casters, it wouldn't cost more than $70.00.

Click on any of the pics to enlarge and get a better view...

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Materials and Cut List --

Item Qty Component L W D Material Notes
A 1 Base 24" 24" " Plywood *
B 2 Base support 24" 5" " Plywood * used to stiffen base
C 4 Base siding 24" 4" " Plywood * cut long to trim miters
D 4 Frame boards 5' 6" 4" 2" Pine just dimensional lumber
E 2 Top support 24" 4" " Plywood *
F 4 Casters 3" Polyurathane
G 16 Pan head screws " Stainless #14

** Notes **
1. Plywood is " or " Baltic Birch
2. Everything else used for this project is all scrap, at least for me.

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Tool Setup --

Set your sliding T-bevel...

set the T-bevel First things first:  Clamps are heavy!  If one tries to keep this thing square to the base, by the time the clamps are loaded, it will simply fall over.  Setting an angle on the frame boards drives the head weight of the clamps to the center of the cart.  The steeper the angle, the more the weight approaches the center and the more stable it becomes.

So, grab a sliding T-bevel and set it to 5°.  This is an arbitrary setting and it could just as easily be 7° or 10°.  Even at just 5°, one can see from the picture at left how quickly the frame boards will slope away from the edge of the base over a 6' run.  Just remember that as the angle increases, the tops of the frame boards will be driven closer to each other.  And, for every degree of angle increase, cart stability will certainly increase as well.  But, increasing the angle may also mean that either the base size or length of the frame boards will have to be adjusted accordingly to compensate.  Regardless of the angle you use, set your T-bevel and lock it in... you'll be using the T-bevel for tool setup on the table and miter saws throughout the project.  We'll be using 5° for the remainder of the project detail.


Assembly --

Cut the base, base sides, and frame boards...

Using some good quality " and " Baltic birch plywood, cut the base, base supports, and sides for the base.  The frame boards are just 2" x 4" dimensional stick lumber from the Borg.

  1. Cut the base (A) and the two base supports (B) to the sizes listed in the materials list above.  Glue up and clamp the base supports to the base and set it aside for the glue to dry.
  2. Cut the four sides for the base (C) and the two frame board supports (E) for the top.  You may want to leave a couple the bottom sides a tad long... you'll be putting a 5° miter on them.
  3. Finally, cut four frame boards (D) to length as listed. 

Assemble the base and frame boards...

Now that the glue-up on the base is dry, scrape off any squeeze-out and do a light sanding on all four edges.  You could conceivably cut the squeeze-out off when the bevel is cut onto the long sides of the base, but any residue may cause the base not to track down the table saw fence correctly, and thus throwing the base out of square.  So, even though it's a pain, do it right.  With the edges cleaned up, grab that freshly set sliding T-bevel and set the table saw blade.  Put a 5° bevel on each side of the base where the base meets the long sides of the 5" base supports. 

attach to beveled edge Head on over to the miter saw.  While the saw is still set to 90°, trim the length on two of the " plywood base sides to 24".  Glue and screw these to the beveled edge of the base.  It should line up like the picture on the left.  Also, grab some " scrap plywood, and cut a couple of 24" x 4" pieces for braces for the top of the frame boards.  Set them aside... we'll get back to them a little later.  Finally, trim the length on the 2" x 4" stock to 5'6".  Remember, if you chose something >5°, now's the time to do the math on the frame board length and adjust if needed.  When you're done, it should look like the picture at left.

attach the mitered edge Grab your T-bevel and reset the miter saw blade to 5°.  Miter up one edge of the base side piece (C) and mark the other side against the base, and trim it to fit with an opposing 5° miter.  If you cut it to 24" like the other two, you're going to come up about an inch short (two widths of " plywood).  When done, it should look like the photo at right.  Now, measure and mark the other side piece the same way.  Glue and screw all four base side pieces to the base.  The base assembly is done for now.  This is also the time to miter the end of 2" x 4" lumber (actually pictured at right).  If you want the top end of the frame boards to remain parallel to the ground, miter both ends, but this would be cosmetic only. 

Add frame boards and top braces...

Take one of the frame boards with an end that we know is mitered and fit it into one of the mitered corners of the base.  Temporarily clamp it in place, counterbore some screw holes, and screw it in place.  Do all of that again, but make sure you do it on the same bevel side.  To keep from stressing the screw joints, go ahead and install the top brace (E) on that side of those two frame boards.  Now flip it over and install the other two frame boards and the top brace for that side.  Finally, at the top, fit in a couple of mitered scrap pieces on both of the open sides to shore up the construction.

Install the casters...

Mark the caster (F) locations as close to the edges of the base without putting screws into the base sides as you can.  The closer the casters are to the edge of the base, the more stable it will be.  Mark and pre-drill holes for the #14 pan head screws (G), and screw them in.

Almost done...

the long clamps the short clamps The clamp cart is now pretty much done.  All that remains is for you to cut some scrap pieces and place them as cross bars so you can mount your clamps.  You can see in the photos on either side that I placed all my long clamps on one side, and all the short ones on the other.  That way, I can spin it around and get to whatever clamps I need to use at the time I need to use them.  This part took a little planning;  room to get my hands in there for the spring clamps, feeding the wooden hand screws from the middle so they don't poke out, organizing for the clamps I use most often, closing in one end to stack bar clamps in the middle, etc.  Of course, those are all personal decisions, but making them is half the fun of getting the project done.

Embellishments...

This is pretty much a bare bones type of project; not much in the way fluff.  But, I did add one little perk for myself.  Here in the Middle-age Rebel Workshop, clamps and glue go together like sweet and tea, pee and yellow, etc.  Accordingly, I installed a small shelf in the very top of the cart to store glues.  It's easy to see in the photo that details the short clamps (above, right).

Happy clamping!!!

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Moans and Groans --

Weights and Measures...

While I'm extremly happy with the new cart, woodworking clamps can add up to a butt load of weight fast!  The footprint of this cart is small, and with so many long clamps on one side, it tends to be a little top heavy.  Fact is, when I grabbed the cart at about the 4' level to move it, I discoverd I needed to re-distribute some of the clamps to keep the weight of them from tipping the cart over.  If you check out the Woodweb knowledge base article above, I wasn't the only one to seem to have to deal with the weight to small footprint issue.  The old cart never had this problem because of the massive weight of the bottom.  And, although there are a lot of clamps on this thing, it's pretty well maxed out.  So, heads up; if you're going to make one based on these measurements, be willing to move the clamps around a little to make it safe.

Bad Wheels...

I have several things on wheels in my shop.  In fact, virtually everything is on wheels.  Indeed, the wheels for this cart were recycled from the old cart.  Generally, I've always bought casters like these from the Borg.  According to the box, they're load rated for 265 lbs.  With four of these bad boys, that's a distributed weight of over ton!  But, 265 lbs. is what I suspect will cause these things to explode, or turn into spikes that bury themselves permanantly into the cement floor of my garage.  They sure won't hold the weight they're advertised to and still roll!

Anyway, if you're going to do this and make it mobile, get some good casters from Woodcraft or Rockler.  You may also want to think about moving up to some 4" (or even 5") casters too.  They aren't that much more, and they'll work a lot better.

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Last Updated:  Aug. 20, 2014
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