Precision alignment of silk screens is very important. Shifting of the screen will smear ink on whatever it is you're printing making your edges lose their crispness, or worse getting pain stuck on the bottom of your screen making smudges of paint on your work where you don't want it. Without a way to accurately align your screen it also is very difficult to make multi color prints. My solution (that has already been invented, I just came up with an affordable DIY solution) is these screen clamps. The cheapest commercial clamps I could find we're $35 a set. I wanted them but couldn't afford them. I know these aren't the best possible solution, but they do get the job done.

hinges clamps clamps

What you will need is:

  • Small Gate Hinges
  • 4 additional screws of the same size that come with the gate hinges
  • (2) 2" Spring Clamps
  • Drill
  • Drill bit (3/32nd in my case)
  • Sharpie
  • Plywood Board (~1.5' x 2.5')

Scribe a horizontal straight line on the board near the top where the hinges will be so that you can get the hinges in-line.

Lay your hinges the distance you need them apart on the board using the line you scribed to keep them parallel and in line with each other.

clamp building

Using your sharpie mark where you will need to drill the holes for the clamps, then drill them with a bit smaller than the screws (in my case 3/32nd).

Take off one of the rubber grips on one handle of each clamp, and the corresponding rubber grip on the jaw.

clamp building

Using one of the hinges as a template, mark the handle of both clamps with a sharpie where to drill the holes for the screws.

marking holes with sharpie

Drill out the two holes in each clamp using a drill bit that is smaller than the threads of the screws that you are going to screw the hinges to the clamps (for me it was a 3/32nd bit). These holes are undersized because they allow the screws to self tap.

Screw the hinges to the clamps then screw the clamps to the board.

marking holes with sharpie screwing the clamps to the board

Because of the way I drilled the holes for the hinges I had the hinges upsidedown (so that the countersink was on the wrong side. Because of this the screws stuck out and the hinges wouldn't lie flat (see images below). To fix this I drilled some 1/2" holes in the board under the clamp screws so that the hinges could lie flat. If you have the hinges flipped over they other way when you make the marks for the holes this won't be a problem.

clamp building clearance holes

That's it! Enjoy your clamps!

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Copyright Shane Wighton2024