Whenever I need to glue up a frame, I reach for my corner blocks and my wife’s sewing kit. As shown in the drawing, the blocks are simple wooden circles with a 90° notch. I put a block at each corner and apply clamping pressure with a loop of mason’s line. Staples at the tangent points of each block keep the line in the right place.
One end of the line is tied to a steel ring, and the other end runs through a big button from the sewing kit. In use, I adjust the position of the button to end up close to the steel ring. I loop the line through the ring and pull back on it to apply pressure to the blocks. Then I loop the line around the button a few times, securing the tension.
This system works so well that I no longer use my commercial corner clamps. I’ve cut blocks of all sizes for different applications, from temporary clamping of cabinet carcases to typical picture frames. By using wedges, shims, and other fixtures, I’ve even clamped oddball shapes with success. The only drawback seems to be that my wife can no longer keep her sewing kit supplied with large buttons.
Robert W. McKinney, Houston, TX
Edited and Illustrated by Charles Miller
From Fine Homebuilding #157