Surface clamp review
Steve Maxwell tests the new Veritas Surface Clamp from Lee Valley Tools
With a traditional European bench in my shop, you’d figure I wouldn’t need any more ways to hold wood while planing and sawing. After all, I already have a face vise to hold boards on edge and an end vise that holds them flat on the workbench surface. But as I unpackaged the Canadian-made Veritas Surface Clamp for testing, I realized something.
The Surface Clamp allows any 3/4″-diameter hole to serve as an anchor point for holding wood up to 3 1/8″ thick. It’s also exquisitely made, in the usual Veritas style. The steel centre post is ribbed, allowing the clamp arm to be positioned quickly in one of 14 height positions. The bottom of the post includes a sliding-wedge feature that expands as you tighten the knurled brass knob on top of the post. Pop the clamp into a 3/4″-diameter hole in your bench, give the central knob a few turns, and the post is rock-solid. Tighten the other knob at the end of the clamp arm and your workpiece is held firm.
The Surface Clamp can be used in both horizontal and vertical positions, and that’s what gave me my idea. One of the drawbacks of all traditional European benches is their inability to hold long pieces of wood securely in the face vise. Sure, one end gets held tightly in the clamp’s jaws, but the other simply extends across the face of the bench unsupported. By drilling a 3/4″-diameter hole in the front edge of my bench, I can now fully support long boards at both ends for planing, sanding edges and sawing. If you have an ordinary workbench, the Surface Clamp also holds wood steady while belt sanding, drilling and cutting. At $70, this tool isn’t cheap, but it works flawlessly, looks terrific and is a joy to use. For more information, visit www.leevalley.com or call 800-267-8767.