Oblique Angle Clamping Jig

By Stan Durlacher on Remodeling, Workshop tips

Clamping Jig for Oblique and Odd Angle Joints

I nicknamed my Oblique Angle Clamping Jig, ‘lollipops.’ for their unique shape and for want of a better name.

This type of jig is not something I claim to have thought up or created. In fact, I have seen similar metal ones in catalogs and in high-priced woodworker stores for a lot more money than I will pay for a jig I can easily make. But these lollipop jigs can certainly save a lot of time and aggravation when you need to get a grip on an unusual woodworking joint.

Lollipop – Oblique Angle Clamping Jig – Grip Joints Better!

When you have the problem of gluing up two pieces of wood that meet at a shallow or odd angle, Lollipops can help. Compounding the geometric problem at hand, I have found that glue, itself, is part of the problem. At the exact instant that you are simultaneously wrestling with an odd joint and multiple clamps, glue magically takes on all of the frictional properties of two ice cubes trying to mate on a hot summer day. Have you ever had two things that wanted to move in unpredictable ways more than a tricky glue joint while you are trying to clamp it together – all the while working against the clock? That is exactly when lollipops help you get a grip on those joints.

The Shape Created the Name

I call these Oblique Angle Clamping Jigs lollipops for obvious reasons – the shape dictated the nickname. The unique shape makes these especially useful for holding off-angle joints together long enough for the glue to dry. The rounded head makes it possible to orient the clamping force right through the centerline of the joint. If you are like me, your shop is littered with all sorts of dust-collecting custom miter blocks that I made specially of a given project and have never used again. The only thing these abandoned custom pieces are really good for is to make great wood stove starter scraps. These custom blocks are good for only one specific angle and size of joint. With the lollipop jigs, you are no longer limited to specific angles or sizes.

Concentrates Clamping Force

The shape creates the ability to concentrate the clamping force where you need it for a specific joint. For example, see the diagram, below, for how these jigs work on a scarf joint, below.

 

The lollipop jigs can be positioned to ensure the pressure is right where it is most effective. In the scarf joint example, the lollipops are positioned so that the clamping force has a path right through the middle of the joint and perpendicular to the glue faces. (Clamps holding the lollipops to the pieces have been intentionally omitted to show the greatest limits of the joint) This geometry virtually eliminates the tendency for the joint to move or slip.

Lollipops don’t grow on trees (or come from Home Depot)

Since I built my cnc router, I have used it to solve many problems and to be more creative. I made the lollipop jigs originally for the slim end joints of a flag case. Since then, I have made them in various sizes and configurations. While I have seen commercially made aluminum lollipop-type fixtures available for sale,  the commercial ones over my budget. Plus, I can make these jigs out of small left-over pieces of MDO plywood. Even better, the cnc router lets me make them in longer lengths and I have no heartburn if I need to cut them shorter for a specific need. The long length has a real advantage over the short aluminum ones as you will see at the end of this article. By the way, you can certainly make a set of nicely formed lollipops with a band saw, drill press and a stationary belt sander, or with whatever you shop may have, Lollipops don’t grow on trees or come from Home Depot, but they can certainly be made right in your own shop.

A sampling of my jigs is shown in the figure, below:

If the need arises, I can quickly modify the design I have for lollipops to accommodate special cases. The following picture is an example of a glue-up I did with a fragile end condition that I did not want to damage.

Oblique Angle Clamping Jigs in the Shop

I make flag cases for family and friends who have lost loved ones who served in the military or law enforcement. Any of you who have made flag cases with shallow miter joints know, it is so much fun to trying to clamp a pair of 22.5 degree mitered joints. I build enough of these that I have the router do the heavy lifting in creating the side and bottom pieces, These pieces have integrated miters, the glass slots, rear dadoes and the front edges of the case. That way, each case bottom and sides ready to glue up right off of the cnc router bed. I make the top with a contrasting piece at the apex and use a small exotic or special wood to give the cases a unique look. Enclosed is one of my finished flag cases.

Oblique Angle Clamping Jigs are Versatile

The following pictures show how the lollipops are helpful for clamping the oblique joints at the bottom corners. If you plan it right, you can dial in the clamping pressure and location to a pin-point accuracy.

I have marked up a picture to show how the clamping pressure can be planned to go right through the center of the particular joint. Again, with the circular faces of the lollipops, the clamping force can be applied at any practical angle with precision.

 

Other Uses for Oblique Angle Clamping Jig

Have you ever had a piece of casework that was longer than your longest clamps? Lollipops can be used at the corners of casework for simple ninety degree joints – with no limitation to the casework size. Once you have used lollipops, you will think of new ways to use them in your work. The limits of your imagination are the only thing keeping you from getting a good grip with these clamping jigs.

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About the author

Stan Durlacher

Stan has been a project manager in the Boston commercial real estate and construction market since 1978. He is currently a Project Executive for a major Boston Construction Manager, building High Rise apartment and office buildings. Two of his current projects are Air Right Developments over the Mass Turnpike in downtown Boston. One of the hallmarks of his career has been innovative problem solving. As Assistant Secretary of Transportation for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Stan was instrumental in bringing the hydromill slurry wall machinery and technology to Boston in the 1990’s for use on the Central Artery Third Harbor Tunnel Project. Stan has been an avid woodworker since college and brings an innovative point of view to this field. He owns an 1886 farmhouse near Concord, Mass and his skills and time are never idle for long. His barn and attached spaces serve as his ever-expanding workshop. Stan is a self-avowed tool hound. In 2013, Stan decided to design and build his own CNC router. This machine has become a centerpiece of his woodworking and his craft focus Stan will share many of the ways that this innovative technology has solved many current problems and how CNC will begin to impact the woodworking and home renovation businesses.

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