A Versatile Clamping Solution

Reviewed and written by Good Woodworking Magazine

Designed to hold parts, jigs and fences without being in the way, these versatile dovetail clamps can be easily adapted to suit a wide range of tasks.

By a simple adaptation of the humble ‘F’ clamp, these Matchfit clamps offer a very adaptable and versatile solution. Making a dovetail slot into any timber, MDF or ply with a standard 14° dovetail cutter allows the clamps to slide into the resulting slot to make all manner of clamping options for jigs, fences and the like.

Free sliding
The cutter used is the standard 12mm wide 14° profile found on the basic comb-style half-blind dovetail jigs and needs to be routed at 10mm deep to allow them to slide freely, but sit slightly below the surface so they still tighten securely when clamped to another surface.

The fixed head of the clamp is twisted and forged into a dovetail profile of 14°, and making a groove into any piece of timber, ply or MDF allows the clamps to slide in. The slot can be made by running the router against a straightedge or with a fence, but either way, it needs to be straight so that the clamps slide freely.

In use
Putting the clamps to use is all about your own needs and that can change at any given time, which makes these clamps so versatile. As a simple hold down, a slot into a baseboard allows the workpiece to be secured to it, or you could run a grid pattern on a bigger board for holding multiple sized pieces with ease. A full length groove on the underside of a long, straight piece of stock will transform it into a track guide for sawing and routing work, and of course, you can now use this guide to rout further slots for other jigs and so forth – there are many options. The clamps are equally handy for holding a sub-fence to a table saw or router if you need better support, or a simple adjustable back fence for a pillar drill.

Conclusion
It’s a matter of adapting these to suit your needs; I particularly like the option of a quick and easy guide to pare shoulders for dovetails and other work, but this really is the tip of the iceberg! Although quite expensive for what is essentially a simple adaptation to a basic ‘F’ clamp, with a decent capacity of just over 125mm you can hold some quite big pieces or fit over box section fences, and if you can find uses to justify the price, they will soon earn their keep.

 

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