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08 June 2010

Archives March 2009 : Tool of the Month

Tool of the Month:
Ring Clamp

After writing last month's Tool of the Month on the Bench Pin, it only seemed appropriate to do March's tool of the Month on the Ring Clamp!

With a misleading name, ring clamps have a tough break. Traditionally used for holding rings when setting stones and and polishing, they are many times set in the back of your bench, collecting dust.

For the past three and a half years, my ring clamp laid unused in the back of a drawer. If I ever came across it I would think, "I don't need to use a ring clamp if I'm not making rings, right?" Wrong.

About six months ago, I was filing a small strip of metal, approximately 6 mm by 25 mm. I would lay the strip on my bench pin and hold the metal down with my fingers as I would file. But instead of filing the metal, I was filing my fingers as well. While I might need a manicure, at that rate I wasn't going to have anything left to manicure!

As I was looking around for something to hold the strip of metal, I found my ring clamp. It seemed that it just might work. So I decided to give it a shot. Not only did it hold my metal strip more stable, my fingers were also protected. Ah-ha moment: a ring clamp can be used for things other than rings!

With this revelation, I decided to try and use the ring clamp in other situations. For instance, when I'm polishing on my flex shaft or polishing motor and my project is getting WAY too hot, or drilling a hole in a small piece of metal that I can't keep from flying across the room. A ring clamp will hold the small piece stead and once again protect my fingers.

A ring clamp works hand-in-hand with your bench pin. By clamping something in the ring clamp and bracing against your bench pin for stability, this tool can't be beat! It gives you ultimate control and holding.

A standard ring clamp is traditionally made of hardwood. This double-ended, lever-action clamp uses a wooden wedge jammed into one end to close the other. Jaws are leather-lined to prevent marking the item secured in the clamp. Typically, one jaw is rounded and the other is squared off, making the clamp more versatile for different projects. JFF carries two standard ring clamps, a standard sized Hardwood Ring Clamp ($4.95), and the heavier duty Russian Style Ring Clamp ($6.75).

The Ring Polishing Clamp is made especially for holding rings. Sometimes when polishing the inside of rings, so much heat is produced it is difficult to hold the ring in your fingers. A very simple wooden lever-clamp holds the outside of the ring securely and safely, allowing access to polish the inside of the ring easily. The Ring Polishing Clamp is $4.95.The Pepe Deluxe Ring Clamp is modeled after the Swiss Ring Clamp, yet slightly more economical. Rather than opening at an angle, the Pepe ring clamp uses a parallel clamping action and operates by a knurled screw knob at the base. Coupled with non-marring leather jaws, the Pepe Ring Clamp provides a very secure grip. The Pepe Ring clamp is $23.70

This month, like last month I’m going to mention the GRS BenchMate™. While last month I discussed the bench pin attachment, this month I’m going to focus on the ring clamp attachment.
For those of you who did not get the last newsletter or missed it, let me tell you a little about the GRS BenchMate™. It is a versatile bench tool with various components that easily switch in and out. The BenchMate™ begins as a bench pin and quickly turns into a soldering station, then a ring clamp holder for stone setting, then can be switched to house an engraving block or pitch bowl. While I could spend hours talking about the BenchMate™, I’m going to focus on the ring clamp attachment and the BenchMate™ Basic Kit.

The whole of the BenchMate™ system begins with the fixed mounting plate. This steel plate is screwed to the edge of your bench top for mounting the various components of this system. Because the sides of the plate are beveled, BenchMate™ accessories can be easily removed by sliding them upward. The ring clamp attachment has a mounting bracket on the back that slides perfectly onto the mounting plate.

The BenchMate™ Holder and ring clamp attachment is far superior to most other ring clamps because it is hands free. The holder will freely tilt and rotate in all directions and tightening the pivot knobs will lock the clamp solidly in any position or add selective resistance.
The BenchMate™ holder, ring clamp attachment and mounting plate are all sold in a Basic Kit for $178.

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