Some of my favorites. . .
© Frank Ford; Photos by FF
Mini 4-1/2" Quick Grip Clamps (Regular woodworker tool sources)
I'd seen these things in the hardware store and in catalogs, but it wasn't until a local luthier, Colin Kaminsky, said "Forget the regular ones, get the mini size. You'll throw your spool clamps away." Well I didn't throw my spools away, but I don't use 'em much any more!
These tiny wonders are GREAT! A bit pricey, maybe, but I can DO stuff with them. Easy one-hand operation makes them priceless for tricky side crack clamping. I have one hand free to align parts, and I can move FAST to clamp long cracks or even an entire mandolin back with hide glue. The yellow pads don't mar the surface or stick to the glue.
If they were only a teeny bit longer. . . There's a little stop on the bar that you have to remove in order to span the side of a dreadnought, but they will make it.
Of course, there's no law against modifying these tools. Here, I've replaced the bar with a really long one, so I can span the face of a dreadnought:
I took off the yellow pads and glued on some shoe leather pads that won't slip on curved surfaces. Only problem was that I had to file the corners off the length of the bar so the clamp would slide on. Even with this long thin steel bar, the clamp is surprisingly useful.
I really like chisels of this grade because I'll frequently make a curving cut that seems to break down the edge of the more exotic chisels. These guys are fairly quick and easy to sharpen, too.
Check out the fourth chisel on the right. I've sharpened it to an incredibly acute cutting angle with no secondary bevel. This thing is amazingly delicate, and I can slice the end grain without the slightest finish chip when I'm trimming a neck for resetting. I painted the end of the handle so I don't grab it by mistake when I'm doing a rough job. This one would never make it cutting ebony!
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