Allen Mowery 2:11pm, 26 April 2011

DIY Super Clamp 2
There are often times when you need to place a light or other piece of equipment in a location that just does not facilitate a light stand or tradition mounting apparatus. Enter the invention of the ever-so-versatile super clamp. This device allows you to mount anything from lights to cameras in a variety of locations, including poles, doors, and tabletops.

But, what if you need to clamp a light onto a larger object? What if don't have the cash to (small amount, though it may be) for an official super clamp? What if you need one today and don't have time to wait for it to ship? Break out your inner do-it-yourself-er and make one of your own! A while back I read a this DIY post by Chris Inch which inspired this experiment.(Scroll to the bottom of the page to see it in action.)

Ratcheting hand clamp - I purchased mine from Lowes, but, Home Depot carries similar items, and your local hardware store should have something comparable as well. But, Lowes offers:
4" Hand Clamp - $7.98 (what I picked)
2" Hand Clamp - $6.48
4-Piece Ratcheting Spring Clamp Set - $14.98
3/4"- to 1"-long 1/4" threaded screw
Nut to fit 1/4" threads

I chose the 4" clamp simply because I wanted the flexibility of being able to clamp it onto larger objects, but a smaller clamp would work fine as long as it can fit over whatever objects you anticipate locking it onto.


A drill, Dremel, or a knife made from the bones of last year's Thanksgiving turkey (or similar cutting device)
A screwdriver to fit your 1/4" screw
Pliers (optional)

The Process
The process of converting an ordinary clamp into a force for change is rather simple.

1. Drill, cut, or burrow a hole (if there’s not one already) into the end of the handle opposite of the finger release. Be sure to make the just hole large enough for your screw to fit through.

2. Insert your screw into the hole (yeah, my mind went there, too) being sure to keep the head on the inside of the handle.

3. Tighten the nut onto the screw from the outside.

4. Attach a 1/4"-screw enabled device of your choosing, and you're good to go!

TIP: While I haven't tried this yet myself, I believe that adding thin, soft rubber pads of some sort to the "grippers" of the clamp will enable it to achieve a better grip and keep it from slipping as easily when heavier equipment is attached.

DIY Super Clamp in Action

Sarah's MaternityThe Trumpeteer - 6599
LEFT: I clamped a flash unit to the 4-inch cement ledge of an amphitheater's step and aimed it at the back (and side) of the couple to create a rim light and introduce another lighting dimension to the photograph.
RIGHT: I clamped a flash unit onto a music stand which I had laying on the floor and aimed it at the wall behind the subject to create some separation from the background.
steveblackdog PRO Posted 7 years ago. Edited by steveblackdog (member) 7 years ago
Yes, adding rubber to the clamps will give a better grip on shiny surfaces. Also has the bonus of being less likely to cause any damage on furniture.
For outside though on rough surfaces, you will find the bare clamp better and it is less likely to pick up bits of grit and the like.

I did something similar recently but used the head from a mini tripod instead of just the bolt, to enable a bit more versatility.
This was before fitting the rubber pads :
Clamp Mounted Mini-Ballhead Ver2  365/324

And then after the rubber was added and clamped on to my stair rail :
Clamp Mounted Mini-Ballhead Ver2.1

Oh, should have mentioned, I started with it on the end of the handle as you have, but after finding the amount of weight it would take was not that great, moved it forward onto the jaws of the clamp. There is then less leverage from the weight of the object it is holding. It is a lot more secure now and grips better with more weight on it.
Not sure I would recommend trusting it with a camera, I only did that for testing purposes :)
Allen Mowery 7 years ago
@Steve: Nice setup! I had actually considered using a similar clamp, but I couldn't find anything with enough "spring action" to grip as tightly as I thought it should. But, I will definitely have to reconsider it.

I, too, have run into some problems with having all of the weight over on the end. However, in some tighter spaces, there's not enough room to accommodate the 4" clamp PLUS mount, light/camera, etc.

However...just thought of this... I might drill a hole for a mount through the upper portion of the clamp (similar to what you've done here) and have two mounting options, depending on what the situation warrants.
steveblackdog PRO 7 years ago
Thats a good idea to have several mounting holes, it doesnt take long to move from one to another and then it can be modified to fit the location or what you want to mount on it.

With this one, I started with just a cold shoe on the handle and found that while it was very useful, sometimes it just wouldnt fit where I wanted.
No lack of spring on this clamp, in fact, when I had something mounted on the handle, it was sometimes difficult to compress it enough to open the jaws far enough. But maybe thats just me not being as strong as I like to think I am ;-)

Anyway, it's good to be able to share ideas like this, you have given me a few more to try out. So thanks for that and I'm sure others will benefit too.
Adam J Telford 7 years ago
Some very well thought out ideas. I will have to spend some quality time in the tool department soon. Thanks for the ideas.
I've got two fo these that i use when riding my bike, they allow me to clamp flashes to trees etc. Light and strong is deffinitely the way to go, more useful than i ever imagined.
This is so simple maybe "I" can even make one of these. I will give it a try.

Inpernity [deleted] 7 years ago
I have those spring-loaded clamps with moveable, plastic jaws. I cut some rubber patches from an old bicycle tyre and glued them to the plastic jaws. Grippy stuff !
martybugs PRO 7 years ago
I did something similar a while ago.

Rather than mount the flash trigger and flash on a single bolt on the end of one of the clamp handles, I added a couple of bolts. This allows the flash to be mounted closer to the jaws (similar to steveblackdog), and a flash trigger on the handle, provding better weight distribution, and then use a PC sync cable to connect the flash trigger to the flash.

cheap clamp for holding remote flashes

(I blogged about it here and here.)
steveblackdog PRO 7 years ago
Neat idea to mount the trigger seperately, I like that.
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