Clamp and Work Hold Down Options

So, I thought it would be nice to have one place for all of the clamp/cam/hold down options that others are putting together DIY.

I’ll start with one that I have just started to tinker with:

I’ve been thinking of carving some extra clamps similar to the ones that Inventables sells here:

After scanning their profile on a scanner to get the right dimensions I started laying them out in Illustrator. Once I had them laid out, I realized that I could tweak the design a little to make them a little more multi purpose. I though, “what if I added a rounded bit on the other end and make them cam clamps as well.” So, I’ve started iterating on that idea. Below if a photo of the current version, but I plan on tweaking the design just a bit more before uploading them to the Projects section. The whole clamp can be carved in Easel including the angled cut at the end.

Any thoughts or suggestions?


See also, this thread:

and check out these projects:

Also, check out these of those who have gone before us:


I like the combo idea, although, I have been using double-sided tape a lot.

Oh yeah, double sided tape should definitely be considered a viable option, especially for certain jobs. Good catch @TonyNo

Ok, I’ve tinkered with the design a bit. These clamp a bit smoother than my original ones…

You can get to the Easel project here:


I’m using hot glue gun, just few drip point, holds as strong as double sided tape. Cheaper and pops with screw driver very easy, cleans easier than tape.


Interesting idea… definitely cheaper

Do you have issues with it being level?

Also, does it mar the waste board much?

If you’re getting use to it dripping same amount, doesn’t give any leveling problems. Besides, maybe good idea to have 4 small shims for the corners when you push down for several seconds. It is not holding MDF very strong. Usually comes off with job, tearing off with my finger.

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How important is holding the piece on all axes of movement? X and Y obviously, but how critical is keeping it immobile in the Z axis? I’m inspired by Sketch42’s cam clamps, but I wonder if you could use push toggle clamps, mounted off-board, along with some hard bumpers screwed into the wasteboard. Then you could use either long threaded rod or scrap wood to get the extension to the workpiece. This way you could theoretically have a pretty static 0,0 point, which could increase repeatability for projects that require multiple processes or bit changes.

Here are the clamps I’m talking about:

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Wow… I had this exact thought this morning. I was even looking at these on Amazon.

I was thinking about screwing in vertical and horizontal guides at 0,0 (strips of 3/4" MDF) and then using clamps like those with or without additional strips of MDF for the other two sides.

Yep, these look like they would work fine for certain jobs. I would watch out for the tool head hitting them, but other than that, the should apply plenty of force to hold a piece in place.

With mine, I do something similar to what @NAM37 suggested… I clamp down s piece of L shaped MDF that I know the inner corner is square and then using my cam clamps I can repeatedly place a piece in a position that has 0,0

Something like this:

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I am in the process of making some 1.5 inch alphabet blocks and needed a quick way to hold them in place with minimum reclamping and high precision with respect to the x and y axis.

My 4 inch drill press low profile vise is working great for this project.


I use 4 small L brackets on two sides. Then use the clamps on the other two sides.

Good idea but, be careful. Bits and holding clamps always love each other. Let me show you my V-Bit’s muscle strength.
Aluminum pieces were all over.


I am always very careful to put my L brackets in the perfect position to be eaten by a tiny miscalculation… Wait. Crap.


Yep, I think I was the careful one.

I use these > (x10) and these (x8)

After I load the gcode and touch off X & Y. I jog the machine around the outer perimeter of the live view of the toolpath to make sure the hold downs are not in the way. If I am going to to be doing edge-to-edge work, I first make a four holes in the four corners of the material and place 4 metal dowel pins in the holes and line them up to the pre-made holes in my wasteboard. (This is great for full duplex ops)

Once you get into your standard workflow/routine on hold downs, and make a small check list before you press the ‘Go’ button- Your errors will go down dramatically.

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I have some that look just like that too from my piranha days… :smiley:

I make mine out of wood now, if the bit doesnt break from a miscalculation, I just make a new clamp.

If you have a 3D printer or know someone who does, there are plenty designs over at Thingiverse like these;

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@AlanDavis - Glad I’m not the only one with a few scarred aluminium clamps.

Crazy how I’ll spend hours generating the perfect set of code to cut my work, but spend 30 seconds clamping-down and then am left praying that the tool will miss the clamps (or worse, I’m frantically trying to move clamps mid-job).