25 March 2016
Excellent solution for making panelsMaking significant numbers of medium to large panels for furniture I opted to take the plunge and buy this system, having read a number of positive reviews of it online.
I have gone for the 1250mm clamps, buying eight with two rails, two 3x kits plus two extra clamps. This may well prove to be overkill for the beech and oak I general work with but I would rather have too many clamps than too few. I have actually spaced the two rails and not butted them together as suggested this with a 300 mm gap between them allows me to make panels just over 2m long and in my view the rails being separate means I get even spacing of the clamps over a slightly longer run than if the rails were butted together.
Initial assembly is a bit of a challenge as the clamps do need some assembly, some of it requiring a rubber mallet as the plastic block that slides in the rail is more than a snug fit onto the clamp section. Using a frame which is then fixed within a shallow recess I found it was better to assemble the frame and then attach the rail for the clamps after the exact height for this to allow the clamps to rest on the foot can be determined.
So assembly will take some time.
As does setting the clamps up for use. The sections don't have any marking for where to put the bottom clamp for given board widths and it is worth getting out a pencil to add your own numbers. Setting the bottom part is fiddly and is slower than setting up sash clamps, but there again the results are so much better it is worth the extra effort.
That you don't need to biscuit/domino/whatever the individual boards does save time and cost when making a panel, which is good as the system is neither cheap or quick to set up. Without taking off the feet and possibly raising the system I am not sure it is possible to make a 1250mm panel with the 1250mm clamps, but they do allow for a 1190mm panel, with 13mm boards.
The "3 way" clamping really does work as the panel is brought flat as well as the joints being pressed together firmly, though it is in my view far quicker to clamp up a panel with this system when compared to sash clamps it is still worth using a slower acting glue such as what I use which is Titebond Extend. As the panel is flatter and the joints truer there is also a saving in sanding time.
That the system sits flat against a wall is another big win, if you have the wall space, if not a portable frame will need to be built and this may reduce the space saving nature of the system.
All in all if you make panels on a regular basis this system is easily worth the investment, overall it saves time, especially when making more than one panel of the same size. It also should vastly reduce waste as it is almost fool-proof and I have had more than one case where sash clamps weren't but there again I may be more of a fool than most. However only a couple of mistakes with sash clamps would in terms of the cost of the wood and time pay for this system.
Very easy to produce high quality results.
Very flat even panels are easily produced.
Fiddly to assemble.
Takes up space when not in use.
A few basics such as numbers on the slots need to be added.