Enough Clamps?

A friend at work told me a story some years ago. Her husband and another guy were sitting at the table talking about woodworking tools, as guys sometimes do. During a pause, she asked them, “How do you know when you have enough clamps?”

She said both guys stopped and slack jawed, just looked at her. No words came.

That story came to me the other day when I was replacing the fiberglass rope gasket on our Jotul stove. The instructions on the bottle of adhesive were cheerful and clear. “Clean the groove that accepts the new gasked thoroughly. Then add a bead of adhesive to the door groove, insert the rope gasket, and close the door for 2 hours. You may want to put some newspaper in the door so you don’t glue it shut.”

Sounds easy enough. The adhesive had been sitting in the shop for a few years now. I bought the new rope and adhesive some time back, because frankly this job is past due. But I did finally get around to it. I shook the little jar of adhesive, even though the directions said nothing about that. I then attempted to insert a bead in the groove. The adhesive was like water. There was no way I would be able to insert a bead without it running down the glass in the door.

So I measured and cut the correct length of rope, sat it on the hearth, and applied a bead of adhesive to the rope. Then I carefully fed the rope into the channel. Things went fine until the first bend, when the rope fell out. I enlisted Alice’s help, but to no avail. The raw adhesive was not sticky enough to hold the rope in place long enough for me to get the door shut, and we did not have enough hands between us to hold the rope in place. What to do?

As is so often true, clamps were the answer. With the adhesive drying on the hearth, I sprinted out to the shop, grabbed every spring clamp I had, came back inside, reapplied the glue, and then started feeding the rope back into the channel. When I came to a corner, I pinned it down with a clamp. As you can see in the picture, by the time I made it all the way around the door, I’d used up a lot of clamps. If I would have had more, would I have used them? Probably.

After about an hour, the adhesive had dried enough so I could removed the clamps, stick the newspaper in the door, and close it tight so the glue could finish its curing.

Besides spring clamps, I have a good assortment of C-clamps, bar clamps, Jorgensen clamps, pipe clamps, workbench clamps, and a couple of Kant-twist ™ clamps to round out the picture. There are probably others out there I could call on if the need arose. I am frequently grateful for my clamp collection.

So how many is enough? The better questions is how many is too many. What would have to happen for me to have more clamps than I want to keep around. That is a bridge I’ve not yet had to cross, but then again, I’m only 66 years old. I hope I’ve still got a lot of clamping left in me.

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