Making a Keel Clamp
By Pete Darius (Calicoe)
Keel clamps come in two basic varieties, metal and wood. A metal clamp usually holds the keel in two places and cannot be used after the hull is finished without risking damage to the keel. A wooden clamp lessens the risk of damage but tends to slip.
This home made clamp is not only strong and slip resistant but it’s a lot more functional.
2 – 2.5”x 2” x 2” poplar These are sold as 2x2 but they’re actually 1.5” x 1.5”
1 – 16” to 18”’ x 1/2” x 1” poplar or red oak
1 - 1/4” x 2.5” bolt and a “Tee” or “Star” knob.
4 to 6 – 1.5” bolts with wingnuts and washers
1 - 1/4” lazy-susan
3 – 3/8” “T” nuts
3 – 3/8” eyebolts
Clamp the 2 x 2’s together and drill a 1/4” hole 1/2” down from one end. Put the 2.5” bolt through the hole and tighten with a Tee or Star nut. Round off the end where the bolt is.
Remove bolt and cut a corner out of both blocks.
Cut another notch at the other end of one of these pieces. This will be for one side of the clamp. Mount the other to a board or directly to the top of the lazy susan.
The clamp is made from a 1” x 1” piece of poplar or red oak or whatever wood is on hand. Cut to the length of the keel.
If you have a wide keel, the opening for the keel can be made wider by adding a strip of basswood planking under the row of bolts. Now, depending on the length of the keel, drill four to six holes about 1/3rd of the way up the clamp or just above where the outer clamp forms an L. I made this one out of a 1”x1” piece of stock by cutting it length wise and adding the strip along the bottom but it can be done just as easily with two - 1/2” x 1” pieces.
The clamp could now be fastened to a table or workbench with “C” clamps but then you would have to unclamp it every time you wanted to work on the opposite side.
I picked up a lazy susan at Walmarts for a few dollars and attached the clamp to it. The only problem was how to stop it from moving.
I drilled three holes through the top of the turntable and inserted three “T” nuts then threaded eyebolts down through the nuts and when they’re all the way down the turntable sits on a very sturdy tripod.
I mounted a metal bracket onto the turntable and then mounted the clamp to that. This gives me the ability to tilt the clamp as well as swivel it but it’s just as sturdy mounting the clamp directly to the turntable.
Once that’s done I just glued clothes pins to it as clamps and spindles for wire and thread and whatever comes in handy.
The “T” or star nut is what really keeps the clamp from moving. It can be tightened a lot more than the wingnut that you get with the commercial model.