My wife is an artist and often asks me to make stretchers for canvas or picture frames for her pastels. I also make wood-frame mirrors from time to time, and I've built my fair share of drawers. All these projects require clamping parts together absolutely square. The Merle Adjustable Clamp is the best gadget I've found for this job.
The Merle Adjustable Clamp consists of a 22-ft. retractable steel band, which passes through three adjustable corner saddles. A fourth corner saddle is attached to a hand-screw assembly, which cinches up on the ends of the steel band. Essentially, it's an adjustable loop with a saddle at each of four corners.
The real beauty of the Merle Clamp is how easy it is to use. Simply slip the loop around the frame or assembly you're gluing up. adjust the band, turn the hand screw and you've got it clamped—not only tight, but perfectly square,too. It's so quick and easy to do these glueups that it frees me to do other important things, like reading woodworking magazines.
face, making the handle easier to turn, and the pre-
drilled holes in the base allow the saddles to be casilv
mounted to any surface—even vertically. The saddles just make your pipe clamps a lot more versatile—I guess you could even do a glueup on the wall if your bench and floor are too cluttered.
Price: $11.97 for four. Available from most mail-order catalogs and woodworking stores. Information only from: ADJUSTABLE CLAMP CO., 417 Ashland Ave., Chicago. IL 60622, (312) 666-0640.
The Incra Jig is one of the most useful gadgets I've ever come across. Though it sounds like a cliche to say it, I think its use is limited only by your imagination.
Simply put, the Incra Jig is just an incremental measuring tool, or as the owner's manual calls it, "a precision positioning jig." It is most useful as a fence Price: $22.95 ($19.95 each for four or more). Available positioner for router tables, tablcsaws, etc.. but can be from: MLCS, P.O. Box 4053, Rydal, PA 19046, (800)
Li sc. d r a \ a 11 l t of" c_ t Fic. r* I li i i c 11 on s. 533-9298. Here's how it works. The jig is made of two plastic body parts that fit together very precisely with opposing fine saw-tooth racks. The bottom half is attached to a stationary surface, like a saw table or router table. A fence is attached to the front of the top half. Because the teeth on the racks are exactly in. apart, the fence can be moved in exact increments of lfn in. The addition of a '/jj in. scale right on the jig eliminates the need for any other measuring device when adjusting the fence. The jig is not limited to V52 in. adjustments, however. The instructions tell you how to shim the racks so it can be "micro-adjusted" to an accuracy of '/in«* in. Once the setting is adjusted, the two halves are locked together with a clamping knob.
With the ability to adjust and set a fence this accurately, you can make and duplicate finger joints, sliding dovetails, half blinds and many other joints quickly and painlessly. An Incra Jig Handbook and Templates Package is available for a few dollars more, and I highly recommend it. The handbook clearly describes many clever uses for the jig, including how to make the "Incra double dovetail," which is just about the slickest joint I've ever seen.
Price: $39.95. Available from most mail-order catalogs, and woodworking stores. Information only from: TAYLOR DESIGN GROUP. P.O. Box 810262, Dallas. TX 75381.
If it's true that simple pleasures are the best, I think the same goes for woodworking gadgets. And these Pony Pipe Saddles arc as simple as they come. They are aluminum saddles that slide onto a standard V-i-in. pipe clamp to prevent the clamp from rolling over when you're doing a glueup. Each saddle has a thumbscrew for tightening it on the pipe. Also, there are two holes drilled into the base of the saddle, so you can fasten it to a bcnchtop or other work surface.
Large glueups, like tabletops. can be frustrating enough, and having my pipe clamps roll over on me can sometimes be the straw that breaks the camel's back. These saddles prevent that from happening, and that keeps me from throwing the nearest tool across the shop. They also lift the clamp up off the bench sur-
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