Having right angle clamps or 90-degree clamps in the workshop is a must. Many projects will not require those but at some point, you will not be able to do without them. Whether you would be building furniture, cabinets, small cupboards or just fixing two pieces of wood together an easy-to-use yet accurate corner clamp is a must-have.
There are all sorts of different types of right-angle clamps or 90-degree clamps on the market but the problem is, especially in the case of the cheaper ones, they don’t work. In some cases, they don’t work at all. You may be thinking how is this possible with such a simple device, yet, there are only a few that I would recommend. The problem is mainly in the precision of the device construction which directly affects the accuracy of the clamp.
You can buy a few clamps for your workshop, but you can build them as well.
Based on my experience, I decided to build my own angle clamps. And I would recommend you do the same. The cost is minimal to an equally available clamp you could buy (Unfortunately, clamps are not cheap and you always need a few of them).
The material is easily available and these clamps DO work. And besides, it is also fun to make your own tools for the workshop. In my experience, this is the best DIY right-angle clamp you can make. In this article, I will walk you through how to build these DIY corner clamps step by step and how to use them.
Table of Contents
- Material you will need
- Downloadable Right Angle Clamps PDF
- General Questions
- How does a right angle clamp work?
- How to clamp a corner at 90 degrees?
- Do I need a right angle clamp?
- Important aspects to consider when selecting angle corner clamps
- Making a 90 Degree Clamp
- Step 1: Make the Base
- Step 2: Make the Jaws
- Step 3: Make the Spindle
- Step 4: Assembling the Clamp
- How to use Right Angle Corner Clamps
- Right Angle Clamp Video
- Woodworking Jigs
*Safety is your responsibility. Make sure you know what you’re doing and take all necessary safety precautions while working with power tools. Safety comes first!
Always be cautious and careful when using any power tool. I am using a circular saw to build the clamps. Take a look at these safety tips on how to work with a circular saw.
Material you will need to build the Angle Clamp
Right Angle Clamp:
Birch Plywood 12 mm
Base: 150 x 150 x 12 mm
Jaws: 125 x 125 x 24 mm , 20 – 110 x 20 x 24mm
Spindle nut: 35 x 20 x 24 mm
6x Wood Screws – 1,5 x 30 mm
2x Washer (to fit a 15mm, 20mm hole)
2x M6 Bolt
ø6mm Threaded rod
Forstner bit – 15mm, 20mm
Sand Paper / Sanding Wheel
How does a right angle clamp work?
A right-angle clamp consists of two main parts. An L-shaped block that pushes against an equally shaped frame. Both pieces sit on a base that provides support from below.
A handle is attached to the L-shaped block that moves forward using a spindle. Both the L-shaped pieces need to be high enough to ensure proper fixation. When moving the spindle, the pieces press against each other fixing the wood pieces in position and keeping them perfectly aligned at 90 degrees.
NOTE: Glue, screws, or other types of fasteners can be used to fix the pieces together.
How to clamp a corner at 90 degrees?
The best way how to join two pieces of wood at a right angle is by using 90-degree corner clamps. These clamps are easily available on the market or you can build them yourself. Keep in mind that the quality of angle corner clamps varies from each other.
How to clamp wood at 90 degrees:
- Place the wood pieces in the corner clamp and make sure there is no gap between them.
- Use one hand to start tightening the jaws and the other one to manage and adjust the joint as necessary.
- Fix the corner of the wood pieces with glue or fasteners.
- Sand or finish the joint as desired.
Do I need a right angle clamp?
A right-angle clamp is a must in a workshop. When building furniture, cupboards, or assembling cabinets where large pieces need to be joined at 90 degrees a right-angle clamp will help hold the pieces in position.
It is quite difficult to work with larger wood sheets and assembling all the pieces together could be a challenge. A right-angle clamp can easily hold all the parts in position and provides the desired assembly comfort.
Important aspects to consider when selecting and using angle corner clamps
- Setup: the setup has to be easy, quick, and simple. Clamps with a single handle are much easier to operate. One hand is operating the jaw which clamps both pieces together, the other one is managing the joint and making adjustments as necessary
- Accuracy: the accuracy and the construction of the clamp ultimately determine the precision and the result. Quality clamps will hold the wood pieces in position ensuring a perfect 90-degree joint.
- Size: the size of the clamp determines the thickness of the material that can be joined together. Also, the width and the height of the jaws have a direct impact on the strength of the joint. The larger the area of the jaws the bigger and heavier materials the clamp can hold.
- Clamping pressure: be mindful of the clamping pressure and avoid overtightening, as this can lead to distortion or damage to the material.
The angle clamp consists of 3 main parts: The base, jaws, and spindle.
All the material used is easily available. The entire clamp (the base and the jaws) is made from birch plywood. The spindle is made from a 6mm threaded rod and a wooden knob is used for the handle.
Corner Clamp Parameters:
- The total size of the angle clamp is 150 x 150 x 36 mm
- The maximum clamping range is approximately 6cm
- Jaw’s width, depth, and height are 125 x 20 x 24 mm
This right-angle clamp is designed to clamp 2 pieces of wood of the same thickness. It allows for a small variation in the thicknesses of the pieces though there are other types of clamps that are more suitable to clamp wood pieces of different thicknesses.
How to Make a 90 Degree Clamp
Step 1: Make the base
Start by cutting and shaping the plywood desk for the base. The base is 150 x 150 x 12 mm. Easily done with a circular saw crosscut jig. You will end up with nice clean perpendicular cuts.
Draw the design and cut out the inner parts. The cut square is 40 x 40 mm. The diagonal cut is not necessary – it is a design feature. For the inner cuts, I am using a jigsaw cutting station.
NOTE: Cutting a square in the corner of the base will allow excess glue from the joint to drip outside the clamp base.
RELATED: How Cut Straight With a Jigsaw
Step 2: Make the Jaws
The total height of the jaws is 24 mm. They are made from two plywood pieces that are stacked on top of each other and glued together. This height is sufficient to hold bigger and heavier wood pieces.
Measure and cut the wood pieces for the jaws (2 L-shaped frames).
- Front jaw: 1 piece- 125 x 125 mm
- Back jaw: 2 pieces – 110 x 20 mm
After cutting all the pieces, sand them and make sure that all the parts fit perfectly.
1. Make the Back Jaw
Let’s start with the back jaw first.
Glue the first part of the L-shaped frame on the clamp base. After the glue dries you can additionally secure the piece with screws.
Repeat the process for the second piece. Use an angle to ensure that both pieces are perpendicular to each other. Align the angle with the first piece and attach the other one.
2. Make the Front Jaw
Start with a 125 x 125 mm piece. Draw the design and cut off the unnecessary parts. You should end up with a piece whose height is 24 mm and the width of each of the arms is 20 mm.
It is easy to make the cuts using a hand drill in combination with a jigsaw and a jigsaw cutting station or a jigsaw guide track.
To be able to attach the spindle you need to create a pocket in the middle of the front part. The pocket will hold the threaded rod with an attached nut at the end that will push the front jaw forward.
Drill a 20mm hole with a Forstner bit deep enough to insert a washer. Then drill a 15mm hole to accommodate for an M6 nut and a washer (a depth of 8mm should be enough).
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Step 3: Make the Spindle
The spindle consists of 2 main parts. The spindle nut and the threaded rod.
1. Spindle Nut
Cut a piece of plywood (35 x 20 x 24 mm). Drill a 20mm hole with a Forstner bit in the middle and insert a T-nut.
NOTE: Drilling a hole with a Forsner bit is not necessary. If you mount the T-nut right on top, the spindle will work well. But having the T-nut flush with the surface looks just so nice 😉
Glue the spindle nut to the clamp base and fix it additionally with screws. This time I recommend using screws since the spindle nut will take a lot of pressure.
2. The Spindle
Measure and cut the threaded rod for the spindle. Take into account the handle and the nut that pushes the jaw forward.
Step 4: Assemble the clamp
And now the most fun part – assembling all the pieces of the angle clamp together.
First, screw the threaded rod into the spindle nut. Put on the washer and the handle as shown in the picture below. Then place the nuts on both ends of the rod and fix them with epoxy.
NOTE: I am using a star knob as a handle. It looks awesome and has a good hand grip. If you want to see how I made it take a look at this article – How to make Star Knobs with a Knob Jig.
Once the epoxy fully hardens and the nuts are fixed, slide the handle on the nut. For a permanent fix add again some epoxy or wood glue.
Place a smaller washer that fits in the 15mm hole (It will be easier for the threaded rod to push the front jaw forward).
Screw the threaded rod until the nut touches the smaller washer and fix the bigger washer to the front jaw with epoxy. Be careful not the get the epoxy inside the drilled hole.
This is what the finished right-angle clamp looks like. Let’s use it!
How to use right angle corner clamps
90-degree corner clamps secure pieces together at a right angle, guaranteeing precise and stable joints throughout the assembly process. This is how to use them:
- Open the clamp’s jaws and insert the first wood piece in. Make sure the piece is lined up with the jaw’s L-shaped frame
- Insert the second piece and align both wood pieces until the edges are completely flush
- Start tightening the clamp with one hand while holding the wood pieces in place with the other
- Adjust the clamp and the pieces until they are tight, ensuring not to overtighten the clamp
- Fix the wood pieces with glue, screws, or other types of fasteners
- Sand or finish the joint as desired
Don’t over-tighten which could result in damaging the material or the clamp. If you want to fix the wood pieces with glue then do that during step 1.
TIP: Place a piece of wax paper right below the joint. You will be able to easily get rid of the glue excess keeping your workbench clean.
DIY Right Angle Clamp Video
If you want to see how to build it, watch the video below for a step-by-step guide on how to make a right-angle clamp.
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When it comes to holding materials securely at a 90-degree angle, corner clamps are an essential tool for any woodworker. They help ensure that the joint is precisely aligned and can be easily glued, screwed, or fastened together.
Unfortunately, corner clamps are not that cheap, and your will need many of those in your workshop. It is definitely worth spending the time and making them… Not only you will save money, but you will also have a good feeling from the work done and appreciate a nice addition to your workshop. 😉
Now you have all the information needed, so let’s build them!