Shop Talk – You Can Never Have Too Many Clamps

At least, this is what I was told by a professional cabinetmaker. In that profession the quantity of clamps is certainly important.  But for pinewood derby use, having one or two clamps of the right type will make your work much easier and more accurate.
There is a huge variety of specialty clamps available today, but we will focus on two types of clamps.  The first is a Quick-Grip clamp from Irwin, which is basically a bar clamp that is tightened by squeezing the handle.  A lever then quickly releases the clamp. Quick-Grip clamps range in size from very small to quite large.  For pinewood derby use, the smallest is the clamp of choice.

Figure 1 – Quick-Grip Mini Clamps
The second type of clamp is a Bar Clamp from Bessey.  This clamp (sometimes referred to as an “F-Clamp” is similar to a traditional “C-clamp” in that it tightens with a bolt. However, this Bar Clamp is superior to a  C-clamp in that it combines the bolt tightening method of the C-clamp with the adjustment mechanism of a bar clamp.  This provides a wider range of clamping applications and faster clamping action.

Figure 2 – Bessey Bar Clamp
My recommendation is to acquire one of the Bessey Bar Clamps, and a pair of Quick-Grip Micro Clamps (normally sold in pairs).  The combination of these two clamps will give you many options for clamping.  Here are a few examples.
Quick-Grip Clamp
The Quick-Grip Clamp is used where the size and force of a large clamp is not required.  Possibilities include holding a wood or metal part to the pinewood derby car body while the adhesive dries, and holding a wood chip in place when repairing a flaw.
Bar Clamp
The Bessey Bar Clamp is used where a larger force is required. Generally this is needed when the block must be sawed, drilled, or shaped with a file (an optional method for filing is described below).
Combination Clamping
Sometimes it is helpful to use both clamps in combination.  One opportunity is when a file (or Dremel-type tool) is used to shape the car body.  If the car is clamped to a work bench, then the sides and bottom edge of the car cannot be easily worked.
An alternative is to clamp the car to a narrow board using a Quick-Grip Clamp, and then clamp the board to the work bench with a Bar Clamp (see Figure 3).  This method of clamping allows much more freedom of access than if the car was directly clamped to the work bench.

Figure 3 – Combination Clamping

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 9, Issue 12

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