Clamp Rack Size Considerations

Advice on choosing and using a clamp rack. December 11, 2012

At our shop we have been effectively streamlining production through various methods. As of late we have purchased a dedicated shaper and power feeder setup to do lock joinery. We are trying to take it one step further by not having to fumble with a pile of bar clamps and glue ups by getting a clamp rack setup.

My brother is convinced we could get by with a 6' setup (this means still fumbling with bar clams if the piece is longer thnt 6'). I on the other hand feel strongly that we need a 12' model with twice the capacity (more capacity equals quicker production times). Our typical jobs have any were from 6-12 edge glued panels larger jobs 30 plus. Do we go with the bear minimum or do we get the model that gets the job done?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor F:
Well if the numbers line up I would think the general advice of “better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it”, would apply. Although it sounds like for a fair amount of your work you will need it anyway. If you have the space, the work load, and the cash to invest why not get the one you won't outgrow?

From contributor H:
I'd say if you have the room a 12' would be nice. I bought a 6' and then welded bars across the feet so I can move it with a pallet jack. You won't be able to do that with a 12'.

The first thing I did when I bought it was buy enough clamps to fill it up. It only comes with a few and that didn't work out so well. Most of the clamps are sitting on the floor because it is a pain to work on "layers". I glue my things cut to rough length and if I had more room I'd just buy the clamps and put them on a homemade rack mounted on a wall. (I don't have any spare wall space so not an option).

If your glue up only uses two clamps and they are not exactly parallel you have a twisted glue up. I'd like to have the front of the clamp sitting on something, hence the home made mount on the wall. These clamps are far superior to pipe clamps - much stiffer and no bowed panels. You wouldn't be sorry with the clamps. The rack I am no so impressed with.

From contributor L:
We've got a 12' Taylor rack with 6 levels and 36 clamps. If working long parts you can work from the bottom up and get 6 glue ups. Then you have to wait for the glue to set to unload from the top down. If you are gluing typical panels for doors you work in the center and slide the glued assembly along the rails to their drying spot on the ends and continue to work in the center. You've got 11 panels drying all the time and can cycle through continuously. The rack is a lot better than bar or pipe clamps. The clamps are heavy! They hook onto and off of the rack easily but you don't want to do it a lot.

One caution: check the clamping alignment. Ours developed or came with a sag in the middle. We worked it over a bit and took the sag out. Our clamps will open to 36 plus inches so they cause more stress on the frame than the standard clamps. If you've got the space and the volume the rotary clamp racks are better/faster.