Clamp Racks

A wise old man once told me “you can never have enough clamps”. Ok, maybe it wasn’t a wise old man… I think I actually read it online somewhere. Either way I’m sure we’ve all heard it. Over the last few years I managed to piece together a little collection of these jewels. There was a couple projects where I used every single clamp I had… but I made it work. Even made a little rack to hang them on my french cleat system I have on the walls in my shop.

and that’s when I start seeing tweets and such pinging around on the interwebs about Lowes having a sale on their complete stock of Bessey Clamps. I think my eyes glossed over and things got a little blurry… The next thing I knew I had had been to not just one Lowes… but two! With the reduced prices it was an offer I just couldn’t refuse.

Then the next day I had to run out to Southern Pines, NC to run a couple errands and guess what they have?Their very own Lowes!!!! Three Lowes in two days! At this point I’ve realized I’ve probably spent more money one clamps in a two day period that I’ve spent my whole life. But, in the words of every woman who has ever tried to justify a purchase… “but I saved so much money”! (Sorry Ladies, had to borrow it) Of course upon getting home reality sunk in… not about the money I spent of course… but where was I going to put all those clamps? Time to start building some more clamp racks.
Now as mentioned before I have french cleats on both opposing walls of my garage. I’ve found that as I adjust my shop to fit my work flow, that sometimes I end up moving things from here to there. There is several very good videos on YouTube explaining and showing how to build french cleats. But in a nutshell its a “cleat” attached to the wall with a 45 degree bevel cut into the top edge. Then one whatever you plan on hanging up you attach a piece of wood with the apposing 45 degree bevel cut into it.
Most of my clamps are the “F” style clams so I just had to cut out some slots with a 1/4 drill bit and then the band saw.
For the Pipe Clamps I had to use two different dimension of forstner bit and then cut out the slot once again with the band saw.
The ratcheting spring clamps, wood handscrew clamps, and strap clamps I used some wooden dowels to make a rack for.
With all that finished I set them all up on the wall on and…
and a close up…
Now that all my new clamps have a place and I’ve over doubled my clamp collection you might ask if I have enough? You can never have enough clamps (and you might need some more clamp racks).

Time for an upgrade… or at least the plan for an upgrade

I am currently traveling for work and since I can’t work in my shop I decided to put a little time into planning to makes some needed upgrades to the shop. A few years ago I had built a table for my shop. It was to fulfill multiple jobs and provide some needed storage in the shop. I found and then modified a design from www.thewoodwhisperer.com. Marc Spagnuolo’s table design fit almost all of my needs. Well fast forward till now and the table has worked great and really helped in the shop.

One of my design modifications was to put the table on casters. What I didn’t do was to add additional support when I put the four casters in corners of the base. Over time due to the extreme weight of the very massive torsion box table top and the lack of structural support in the base it has began to sag in the middle. Right now if you put a straight edge along the length of table there is about a 1/4 inch sag. Now for most of its intended purposes that’s not that big of a deal. But using the table as an assembly table it can cause issues for some glue ups. I have also added several other tools like my jointer, planer, miter saw station, and router table to the shop. These additions have taken up a lot of my available floor space I had before. Whats all this mean you ask… well let me tell you. It is time for upgrade!!!

Let me start by saying that once again I’ll be taking some design ideas from other sources. This time the top will be from Ron Paulk at www.paulkhomes.com. He created a mobile worktable that is pretty amazing. He is a general contractor and designed it to be mobile. I like how functional the top was. It is constructed similar to a multi-function table by Festool but with the stability of a torsion box top. It has holes drilled in the top to allow clamping and the open side allows for temporary storage of tools you are using and a place to clamp to the side of the table as well. I still want to keep some of the storage of my old table but wanted to shrink its overall footprint. The main priority it still needs to serve is as an out feed table for my table saw, an assembly table, and a workbench. So after a many hours of research and a couple hours of playing around on Sketchup… I present my next workbench plan.

The overall dimensions of the tabletop is 4′ X 4″. This will give still allow for plenty of work surface while freeing up a little real estate in the shop. I am going to build the entire project from 3/4 inch cabinet grade plywood. Two of the opposing sides are designed the same with a cabinet door and three large drawers which will be mounted on full extension slides. The table will once again be on casters but will be properly supported to hold the weight of the table. I also took the time to do a cut list for the project to minimize waste.

I use a cut list primarily on large projects to help me figure out my lumber needs and also when dealing with sheet goods to help minimize waste. Now all that’s left is for me to get home, purchase some lumber, and start making some sawdust.

Triple bunk bed build

I just wanted to take a moment to talk about one of my projects this year. I had a client contact me to build a triple bunk bed for his three little girls. He sent me a couple different photos he had found online and we discussed everything from style to method of construction to material used. Each of these thing not just effect the bottom line but also the finished product. So armed with this information I started to draw up some plans. The design the client wanted was found online and has been used by several people. I’m not sure who originally came up with design but my hats off to them. I made some changes so that the bed would fit the girl’s bedroom.

I use google sketch up to draw up my plans. I am still new to the program but there is a plethora of YouTube tutorials available. It really helps to have a scale drawing to help figure out how much material you need to purchase and how everything hopefully will look when I’m finished. Stability and strength were the clients biggest concern and to match the other decor that was going in the room they wanted the bed painted white. To keep the price in their goal range and keep structurally sound we went with dimensional construction grade lumber.
¬† The first step was to build the three identical frames that the mattresses would sit in. I know a lot of beds use slats but as a child that survived a bunk bed collapse because of a sibling jumping on the bed above me I suggested a solid bottom. Now here is where I came upon my first little bump in the road. Since I wasn’t installing the bed in my own house and I really couldn’t build it in the clients home I had a little bit of a available room issue. Luckily for me I have a completely supportive wife who let me take over the living room for awhile.
From there I was able to start cutting and constructing the vertical supports. I started from the floor and built my way up to the top. This way each piece was cut as needed and I wasn’t relying on a cut list or plan. Not there is anything wrong with either of those but in my experience a plan is only as good until the first problem or issue.
In the picture you can see how each bed is not only secured by lag bolts but a physical joint for added strength.
By building from the ground up it allowed me to be one step ahead of adding an additional level with structural support.
Building a triple bunk bed in the middle of your living room sure does make the space seem much smaller. I also made sure that as I built the bed it was designed to be able to be taken apart first so that I could deliver it to the client but then also down the road if he wanted to move he could take the bed with them. But first I had some painting to do.
The living room once again prove very useful in this part of the build. I did a good deal of the painting outside but as it started getting dark we had to move it inside. Once the paint was dry it was time to deliver and set up.
There is every so often a moment when I question my decision to downsize to a smaller truck… but them she pull through for me and we make it happen. This was one of those moments. I recruited the help of one of my friends and we loaded up the bed and headed out to set up the bunk bed for the client.
The client was very pleased with how the bed turned out and so was I. I hope those girls get many years of enjoyment out of this huge structure that they will share nightly as they go through their childhood. I still have many fond memories of playing on our bunk beds as kids with my brothers. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions with this or any other project. I enjoy building, sharing, teaching, and learning and make time to do all of them. You can read about my other projects HERE or follow me on facebook at www.facebook.com/MerzkeCustomWoodworking. Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to hearing from you.
***********************************UPDATE************************************
You can now purchase the plans and SketchUp file for the Triple Bunk Bed from

%d bloggers like this: