View Full Version : Sheet Metal Clamps

02-18-2010, 10:03 PM
So I decided to post these little clamps I made for holding sheet metal together when doing bodywork. I made a shit-ton of them, and I think my total investment was about 5 bucks. You can buy "Cleco's", but they are super pricey and you need a special pair of pliers to operate them. I made these with a few easy to find (read cheap or free) pieces I found around the car hole.

1. 1/2" copper tube. Just the regular ol' stuff in most houses.

2. 1/4" threaded rod.

3. 1/4" nuts.

4. 1/4" or 5/16" washers.

5. Steel banding. That 1/32" thick 1/2" wide stuff that is used for holding stuff together for shipping.

6. Small headless nails. Damn near anything will work, I use bits of old welding rods for this part.

1st, I cut all my pieces... The copper was cut to 1 1/4" pieces, the threaded rod, 1" pcs, and the banding, 3/4" long pieces. Would prolly be a good idea to put the nuts on each piece of rod you cut before you cut it, makes your life muuuuch easier. Dont ask me how I know.

2nd, I notched the banding to fit around the threaded rod, but hindsight tells me to cut a small notch in the end of the ready rod, as if you were gonna use a blade driver to turn it.

3rd, the banding was brazed into the notch at the end of the threaded rod, and an 1/8" hole was drilled in each piece of banding.

4th, and final step. Assemble and use.

All the parts here together and ready to use.


In place. You can just tighten these with your fingers, or use a 1/2" wrench to get them snug.

Bottom side. You can see here how they hold the 2 pieces of steel together. The sheet is clamped between the tubing and the welding rod. The copper tubing works nice because it generally wont stick to steel. Cant weld to it easily. Its hard to tell in this pic, cause the gap (cut) is the width of a zip disk, but the banding works as a fantastic gap width for welding.

I LOVE these things. They work great for forming steel, and hold your patches perfectly flush for easier finish work after the patch is in.

02-18-2010, 10:18 PM
neet idea good tip
how does it work on heavier stuff?????? 1/8 1/4

02-18-2010, 11:53 PM
and cleco clamps are a buck at kms tools and only requier a 1/16 hole :confused0006:

02-19-2010, 04:47 AM
I like em

02-19-2010, 07:04 AM
Ok then... Guess Clecos are cheaper than I thought, but they do require a hole. So that means you need to flange one side of the panel to make the patch lay flat. I prefer to butt weld all my patches in. Makes for a much cleaner joint, and its easier to do your finish work on.

I do whats called "hammer welding" on my patches. After the patch is tacked in, every tack I make is followed by putting the dolly behind the panel and hitting the weld with a body hammer, flattening the weld. This helps to retain the panels shape from the heat, and also makes for less grinding. If you flange your panel, this isn't possible.

And as far as for thicker metals, I don't think these would work well on thicker materials... Just not heavy-duty enough.

m j
02-19-2010, 03:25 PM
cool tip
thanks for posting it

02-19-2010, 09:39 PM
are you gas welding ???? tig ??? or mig i found mig to hard
to hammer tended to crack next to weld. over time

03-12-2010, 06:37 AM
So thanks for all the info. So if I butt weld a new panel into a hole, after I finishing welding it in I guess I grind the weld down just a hair below the surface, then fill it, sand it, etc?

03-12-2010, 10:13 AM
Nice lil' invention man... thanks for sharing!

03-19-2010, 01:13 AM
Sorry... Havent checked back here in a while...

Yes, I gas weld my patches. You will get those cracks from hammer welding MIG. Its too fast of a heat/cool cycle, so the metal becomes more brittle, causing it to work harden faster than oxy/acet.

The idea of "good" body work is to not have to use filler. I guess you could attempt to grind the weld below the surface, but why not try to get it perfect so you dont have to use filler?

I cant take the credit for this idea... I got it from a metalworking site I cruise from time to time, and just thought I'd pass it on.

I'm gonna be starting bodywork on a friends 67 GMC 4x4 cab soon as the engine swap in my truck is done... Guess I should post up some pics of that when I get my ass in gear...

03-19-2010, 07:40 AM
Pics of your welding process to final paint would be really cool. I'm by no means a bodyman. Yesterday we migged some cracks in my kids LJ80 seat mounts. I migged for a second, he dollied and pounded it. It did not seem to flatten. I have a oxy\acet set up. What tip size and pressures do you use? Do use propane instead of acetylene? I've done a lot of acet welding cutting. I like using it to weld little handles on bolts and stuff. I like using say a piece of 1/4" dia cold roll and then slightly melting the ends to round them. The edges just round off with the heat. Way better looking then grinding edges off. No rush on the responses, too many projects in the way of starting on patching my CJ8 tub.