Make Cheap Clamps – Easy!

01-assortedclampsIf you assemble models, kits, kitbash or scratch-build you know the truth in the statement, “you just can’t have too many clamps!”

Here are an assortment of different types of clamps that I’ve used in building my railroad (trestles, trackwork, bridges, etc.) and in modeling train cars and rolling stock.

The problem with these clamps is that they are generally too large for fine work when gluing craft sticks and small props and way to expensive when you need a lot of them.

What I needed was a cheap source of clamps for gluing parts that would lend themselves to small work in tight places.


The solution was the ubiquitous (and very cheap) wooden clothespin. Or clothes peg for our readers on the other side of the pond.

You can get a package of 50 pins for less than $10.


03-theproblemOkay, so the supply is easily obtained and cheap. But there is a problem with the lowly clothespin as it comes out of the package.



Clothes pins have an inverted tip which is great for slipping over wet clothes hanging on a clothesline but is terrible for clamping two glued craft sticks when you need to apply pressure right on the edge of a small part that is invariably always in a very tight place.

04-squarethenoseThe solution is to make very simple modifications to the tips of the clothespins. I make two types of mods to the tips of the clothespins I use when modeling. First, is the square-nose modification.



05-cutsquareUsing a hobby saw you can easily create a blunt squared off end on the pin.




06-anglelinesNext, by sawing along the tips inverted ends you can make a needle nose, or everted pin for gripping in really tight spots.




08-finishedpegsWith hobby saw in hand you can quickly make as many clamps as you need with either type of modification. I like to keep a bunch of both types available when I’m gluing or need to hold a small piece while I’m painting it.




I mark each modified clothespin with a felt tip pen. A single line denotes a square-nosed pin. The pins with the line and arrow mark are the everted pins. No lines indicate plain clothespins.



10-MOWcar2You just can’t have too many clamps.





Let me know what you think! Send me an email with your tips or video clips of your railroad -TJ

(Originally posted 2/06/2012)

This entry was posted in Modeling and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *