Modeler's Clamp

by Chuck Davenport

Clamp in
actionThis clamp was designed for the modeler who is tired of the balancing act when it comes time to detail the exterior of a model, apply decals, cut metal foil, or trim frisket. The concept started with a need, progressed to a conceptualization, moved on to initial design sketches, and culminated in the isometric drawings you have here.

Do not be misled into thinking that you cannot do the same. I was one of those who used to claim that I could not draw a straight line with a ruler. Hogwash! I took an introductory drafting course at my local VoTech and learned everything I needed to create these drawings. The Modeler's Clamp was my class work.

I liked the clamp so much that I modified it. The last two pages, done in AutoCAD (learned in that same intro to drafting course), essentially inverts the original design and places the slide assembly out of the way of your hands. I added another jaw mounting location should you prefer to work directly over the table.

The beauty of this design is that you can design a set of jaws to suit your own needs. For instance, an auto modeler might want to reverse the jaw, lengthen the horizontal ramp, and add a hook to the top of the clamp so the rubber bands would force the jaws open against the inside of the car body. Someone suggested that I add a feature to make the jaw swivel to prevent marring the paint job. Too much work. I have yet to see foam or felt mar a paint job. But, once you build it, you can modify it as you wish.

<Ed. note: I added felt to the clamp upper and lower jaws to keep them from slipping on the table. The felt I used was plain felt weatherstrip that I got at Home Depot for less than a dollar. I also used scraps of 1x2 wood for the upper and lower jaws, since that's what I had lying around the house. This design really works well! Chuck has since reported to me that:

I have already modified the original clamp design to make it easier to build and even more secure. Go to Lowe's (or your local handyman store) and pick up the smallest set of "Quick Clamps" by Vise Grip. Drill a hole in the moveable jaw and mount the jaws of my clamp. The Quick Clamp, or Quick Grip holds like a small vise and attaches to any surface with the squeeze of one hand.


  • Clamp overview
  • Lower jaw
  • Upper jaw
  • Jaws
  • Side view
  • Revised lower jaw
  • Revised upper jaw

  • Ed. Note: I have created an Adobe PDF file containing the full size scans for printing on your own printer. The most current version of the Adobe Acrobat software may be obtained free of charge from the Adobe web site:

    Charles T. Davenport
    IPMS #25544