Your Ring Clamp
A ring clamp is one of the most useful yet least-used tools. This simple and typically inexpensive tool is a powerhouse for working smart, and once you learn to use it, your ring clamp will help you with filing, sanding, forming and polishing. As a bonus, it will also save your hands and your metal, not to mention hours of wasted time crawling around on the floor looking for dropped stones or parts.
How it works
A ring clamp has a round jaw – for rings and curved shapes – and a straight jaw – for straight-sided shapes. Most models feature leather pads inside the jaws, and a separate wedge that can be inserted into either jaw and secured with a few taps on the bench top. Simply insert the jewelry object or part into the desired jaw, insert the wedge on the other end, and tap it on the tabletop. Once secured, you can brace the ring clamp against or in the V-slot of the bench pin to support your work as you file, sand, drill, set or polish. Some specialty bench pins even feature a hemispherical opening specifically designed for the ring clamp to rest in. Another plus: any wood ring clamp can be modified to a specific task by sawing it or changing the jaw shape as needed. You can create several modified clamps to assist you with repetitive tasks or production work.
Choosing a ring clamp
The basic design of a ring clamp hasn’t changed for decades. Look for a wood one with a secure hinge. Check that the metal band holding the clamp together is tight, even and securely riveted. Make sure the wood has a smooth surface and that the wedge is easy to insert and lock into position without slipping. Check the thickness of the leather pads, and ensure they are evenly thick and securely glued into position. I prefer a light-color clamp because I work in base metals but also have a darker mahogany color version for silver or nickel. Plan to spend less than $10.00 for a basic model; more for fancier versions or models made from exotic wood.
My 5 favorite uses for a ring clamp
- Holding metal parts securely during drilling.
- Filing and sanding ring shanks and bands
- Filing tubing edges flat for tube settings
- Holding warp wires parallel for wire weaving
- Holding multiple sections of square stock for even sawing and drilling