I had a local luthier (Greg) repair my violin, and he told me that he was having trouble finding gluing clamps for fixing cracks. He knew that I have a little shop at home. I’m a retired machinist. He had a couple of Brian Hart’s clamps but he needed a bunch more and said that they were very hard or maybe impossible to get anymore. I looked at them and I knew right away that I’d have no trouble making similar glueing clamps in my shop. I made them out of steel. What makes these clamps special is that they grip the wood very easily because both gripping surfaces are sharp. This keeps the clamp in place when installed very lightly. Also, the thumb nut is well up away from the wood where it’s easily turned. The points should stay sharp because they’re made of steel.
I made ten for Greg and he tried them out. He suggested a couple of modifications and asked me to come up with something to replace the wooden wedges that he used as well. He said that the wedges were awkward to use and that he’d like something that he could adjust as needed.
I made some little spreader blocks with a long screw that sticks out where you can get hold of it easily and the little lips that grab the wood have a sharp edge so that they fall don’t out when installed with very light spreading force. I’m making new ones with a pin that goes right through both blocks. This will keep the blocks aligned with each other and also the pins will have the ends turned over so that the set can’t fall apart. There are also going to be some spreaders which will have a little angle block to fit against one block and the screw will have to go through a hole in the other block. They won’t fall out even if they are completely loose. I’m including a little angle block with each set of spreader blocks so you have the choice of using either method. Just take the screw out of spreader block set and use it in the angle piece.
Greg says that he’ll prefer them.
There are some other hand tools that luthiers would like to have and I can likely make them as well. I of course can make them much cheaper if I can make them in batches. I believe that some manufacturers are making some extremely well finished and finely made tools. It’s my thinking that craftsmen who are making a living are likely more concerned with reliability and function. I can make highly polished fancy tools as well but they will be quite a bit more costly. I just started doing this and I’m open to suggestion as well as working with a luthier to develop tools to suit the user.