The Versatile Wedge
Use these simple shop helpers to tackle tricky glue-ups, hold parts at the bench, and more
Synopsis: Wedges are commonly used in joinery, but they also come in handy when clamping, especially in situations where traditional clamps get in the way or can’t do the job. They are also great for separating parts safely without damage. Bob Van Dyke makes his wedges from offcuts, or uses a jig if he needs a lot of the same type. He uses them to clamp thin panels, secure long edging to a workpiece, hold stock for edge-planing and routing, and take apart furniture for repair.
The wedge: I’m continually amazed at how something so simple can be so incredibly useful. It’s common to see wedges used in joinery, and they are the traditional way that a cutter is held in a hand tool like a handplane or cutting gauge. But I also find them really handy in certain clamping situations where traditional clamps are cumbersome or completely ineffective.
Not only is the force created by wedging action great when used to hold parts together, but that same force can also be used to safely separate parts with no damage.
I constantly find new purposes for wedges in the shop, even though they’ve been around as long as recorded history. Here I’ll show a few ways to clamp with wedges, a few ways to take things apart, and a few ways to hold work at the bench. once you’ve explored all the ways wedges can help you in the shop, you may think twice about buying another expensive specialty clamp.
They are easy to make
If you save offcuts from angled furniture parts like tapered legs, you might already have ready-made wedges stashed around your shop. When I do need a wedge that’s a certain size or with a specific slope, it’s easy to…