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February 22, 2019, 02:11:41 pm
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Rock Clamps for Slabbing

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Author Topic: Rock Clamps for Slabbing  (Read 6716 times)
Mark
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« on: September 23, 2009, 11:21:58 am »

I was thinking of things to take pics of the other morning and I had been slabbing a bit.  So I took some pics of my rock clamp.  Not sure where it came from, as a friend gave it to me.  I think I remember hearing that a guy makes them.  If  you are into metal shop, you can probably make your own, they are rather simple.  I use mine all the time.  If i can get it to grip a chunk of rock with a reasonably flat side facing the slab saw blade, then I go for it.  If i have a chunk that has already been faced, then it is simple to grab the flat face of the rock.  Using this clamp saves me having to use wedges and trying to get a rock just right in the saw's clamp.  There are 4 screws that can be moved around and screwed into various holes depending on size and shape of rock.  The screw heads are what hold the rock.  You just place the rock against the face of the clamp and tighten the thing down until the screw heads grab or dig into the rock and hold it in place.  You then put the rectangular bar into your saw's regular clamp and tighten down.  This clamp allows you to place the rock so that you can get a good surface facing the saw blade.  I am probably not explaining this very well.  Maybe if i get technical, no that won't help.  I really need to do a video, maybe i could borrow the wife's camera, it does high def video, but thats for another day.   If anyone knows where you can get these clamps, please let us know.  I know they come in at least 3 different sizes.  I believe this is the medium sized one.

Mark


* Rock Clamp 1.JPG (121.93 KB, 1024x683 - viewed 183 times.)

* Rock Clamp 2.JPG (34.07 KB, 448x299 - viewed 133 times.)

* Rock Clamp 3.JPG (129.1 KB, 1024x683 - viewed 143 times.)
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hulagrub
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« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2009, 11:36:29 am »

That looks neat. Are the screws adjustable side to side? Or how? I have been trying to come up with a clamp for geodes, or whatever round rock, that I would like to cut down the middle, but do not thinks this would work. Your clamp would sure save a lot of time, glueing various boards to my end cuts.
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« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2009, 12:02:32 pm »

Mark, thanks for sharing!! That is a great clamp and I think I will steal the concept and make one for myself... Would you mind taking a few more pictures without the rock and from different angles? Thanks...


Gary
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« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2009, 12:05:47 pm »

Gary, I would be glad to.

Mark
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« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2009, 06:34:38 pm »

Mark that is a neat vise.  I also use a short piece of 2X2, 2X4, or 4X4 lumber and glue it on to a semi flat surface and then let it dry for two weeks and put it in the saw vice and start cabbing.  After the last cab is cut  I soak it in water til the glue dissolves and there is virtually no waste of rock.  Jerry
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« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2009, 07:36:17 pm »

I have considered gluing rocks to the end of a 2 x 4 with water glass.  Maybe one day.

Mark
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« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2009, 08:08:53 pm »

Mark, I have been using elmers glue, with the 1 X's or 2 X's. Just make sure everything is very clean, and then clamp them tightly together, making sure the rock face and wood are flush to one another. When you to your last cut soak it over night or two. My problem is way too many rocks to cut.
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« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2009, 08:22:08 pm »

Dave, I can really understand your problem of too many rocks to cut. I can always help with that problem!!! ;D ;D ;D


Gary
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« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2009, 09:41:17 pm »

Here is my home made version of a slab grabber.
It is made from two 1/4" by 2" by 6"cold rolled steel pieces, two 1/2" by 6" fully threaded bolts and four  1/2" jamb nuts.
The jaws are made by milling a V shaped slot in the ends. I use jamb nuts because they have a low profile and provide more clearance for the rock. Using a wrench you can get almost unlimited power to grip the rock.



I notch the rock with a 4 1/2" dry diamond blade (made for cutting concrete from Home depot or a similar hardware store) mounted on a mandrel in a jacobs chuck.

Here is a 3/4" thick 6" across Montana Agate that I want to cut parallel to the flat faces. Cutting it any other way wouldn't yield much useful material for cabs.

Here are the notches on each of the opposite ends of the rock. It took about 30 seconds to notch them.


Here the rock is mounted in the gripper....another 15 seconds.

Here it is mounted in the saw....another 15 seconds.

It took all of a minute to get the rock prepared and locked in place in the saw ready for slabbing.
Here are the three slabs that I got from a very thin piece of rock.

 The advantage of this method of gripping a rock is the speed in getting it prepared and into the saw. Another advantage is that you can grip any rock in any direction or angle for the best pattern yield possible for the particular material. Another advantage is that you don't have to cut a flat face first before it is gripped. Also you don't have to wait 2 days for the glue to dry or for the remaining rock to soak off the piece of wood.
Here is a Bruneau Jasper piece that required special orienting for the best pattern and yield. Here is how I notched it.


In the gripper.

And the slabs from the rock.

I use the gripper for nearly all the rocks that I slab. On thin rough you can get some fantastic slabs by being able to cut parallel to the color bands.
Bob
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« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2009, 12:00:33 am »

excellent pics, bobby.......  very neat idea.  We have what they call  " the gripper " that we bought in tucson last yr.  it works ok, but you can't cut real close as the feet of it get in the way.

mary ann
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« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2009, 04:55:02 am »

Bob, great job.  I had seen pics of clamps like that before, but couldn't figure out they worked.  I had never noticed the groove in them and gripping edge.  The slicing of a groove in the rock is another great idea.  When I have a horribly shaped rock that I can't get my clamp on, I either let it sit forever, or I embedded it in a piece of concrete shaped like a 4 x 4.  My Covington slab saw has the same gripping edge on the end of the saw's clamp.  I have neve used the saw's clamp that way because the grip seems so small.  On my rock clamp, I can screw the screws out farther to increase the "bite" or gripping edge.  I guess that i could also get longer screws for using on the badly shaped rocks to get a better grip.  That saw of yours is great, with that I could actually cut some of my badly shaped rocks by first scoring their surface so that the slab saw blade would not slide around on the bad surface. 

Here's some more pics of the rock clamp so you can get a better idea on how it is built.

Mark


* rock clamp rear view.JPG (28.92 KB, 448x299 - viewed 84 times.)

* rock clamp screw layout.JPG (30.53 KB, 448x299 - viewed 69 times.)

* rock clamp base for clamping.JPG (30.9 KB, 448x299 - viewed 64 times.)

* rock clamp adjusting screw base.JPG (31.14 KB, 448x299 - viewed 89 times.)
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« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2009, 08:40:11 pm »

Boy, I sure like both clamps. Believe I have the materials to make one like Bobby's. Great thing to be able to orient your rock for the best of cuts, instead of getting the best cut in however you might be able to clamp.
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« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2009, 05:34:18 pm »

This was a great thread and seeing I had been wanting to make one for a while and with this topic putting a new fire under my !@# I took some time this weekend and made one while I still have access to a Mill and Lathe. This one is a two sided (Just in case one side should get worn out) and made from 1/2" thick cold rolled  3 3/4" x 6" and currently has  4 3/4" max jaw opening  which could be made as wide as you need it with longer pieces of all thread.
I still need to go get some jamb nuts as the ones on there now are just reg. 1/2" nuts.
Hopefully this one should last a long time.

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« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2009, 06:00:45 pm »

I have seen these double grooved clamps.. Seemed like one was a bit deeper than the other on them.. Maybe for better grasp on some pieces ??

Went to price these after seeing them again in this thread. Can't seem to find one for under 40.00 with a 5" max capacity..

Seems sorta steep.. ?
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« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2009, 09:09:58 pm »

On the movable clamp, if you put the nut on on the top of the jaw on the end nearest the stone and the nut on the underside of the jaw furthest away from the rock you can use the leverage of pivoting  on the front nut and really get a death grip on the rock. It is shown in my pictures of the clamp. This also eliminates having to perfectly adjust the distance on the clamp. It is a much simpler approach for the clamp.
Bob
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« Reply #15 on: September 27, 2009, 09:31:22 pm »

On the movable clamp, if you put the nut on on the top of the jaw on the end nearest the stone and the nut on the underside of the jaw furthest away from the rock you can use the leverage of pivoting  on the front nut and really get a death grip on the rock. It is shown in my pictures of the clamp. This also eliminates having to perfectly adjust the distance on the clamp. It is a much simpler approach for the clamp.
Bob

Bob,

I know exactly what you mean about the nuts, I tried it both ways yesterday and just put all the nuts back on to store it (Just in case I ever need them all or a spare). You are right though about the death grip I just put a little "test" groove in a scrap piece and it sure seemed to hold like crazy.
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« Reply #16 on: October 12, 2009, 06:07:01 pm »

Guys, you have some great ideas. Put my duff to work yesterday, and made one. Already had some steel, went Tractor supply and spent about 3 bucks on allthread and nuts. Still needs some fine tuning, better grooves and closer to the ends. Kind of hard to do pricise work with a four and a half inch angle grinder. Also added wing nuts and offset one end a quarter inch, in case of whatever.


* geodes,clamp,sift 003.JPG (200.97 KB, 752x575 - viewed 68 times.)
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« Reply #17 on: October 12, 2009, 06:56:23 pm »

Dave, great job on the clamp.  Wish i had the time, tools, and drive to make one myself.

Mark
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« Reply #18 on: October 12, 2009, 07:02:33 pm »

Here is some slab grabbers.
http://www.arrowheadlapidarysupply.com/news/details.php?unid=38
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« Reply #19 on: October 12, 2009, 10:11:48 pm »

I too wish had some stock steel and the tools.

Great job on yours Dave.. Looks like it is pretty close. Even as it is your going to salvage a lot of extra slabs !
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« Reply #20 on: November 16, 2009, 07:13:11 pm »

www.sphereproducts.com   markets a product that is called a "Slab Grabber".  It looks very similar to the product with the four screws that can hold many challenging shaped rocks.   The price is $34.  I ordered one last week but have yet to get it.  I did have a similar product years ago and recall that it was a tremndous asset to my slabbing efforts.  It really opened up a new avenue of cheap stones, since I could buy heels and thinner materials that not many people would buy.  I have often gotten some exciting slabs out of it.   I have found that commercial cutters often have some really nice heels for sale if you ask. I did acquire an exquisite, although on the smaller side, piece of Montana agate for $2.  It cut two $40-50 stones.  Not bad for a hobbyist.
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« Reply #21 on: November 16, 2009, 07:52:43 pm »

Thanks for the link Chuck ...  :)
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« Reply #22 on: April 24, 2010, 09:39:50 pm »

Here you go Gary!
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« Reply #23 on: April 25, 2010, 12:44:41 pm »

Thanks for the link. I have been looking around the net at different clamps since the Tucson gem show. This one looks great. Thanks! I also saw at the Tucson electric park show a guy that makes interesting rock clamps. I was soooo tempted to buy one. They are not cheap. They were real heavy duty and looked well made. Check them out on U-Tube. I am not sure how to put a link up on this forum. If anyone knows how, and if we can, please link it up. The clamp is called  CRS GRIPPERS. Eric.
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« Reply #24 on: April 28, 2010, 11:10:03 am »

Ran into this on Ebay today..
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« Reply #25 on: April 28, 2010, 04:25:36 pm »

My father purchased one of the gripper clamps the first year they were in Tuscon.  They work but he was not very impressed.  You can cut a few more odd shaped rocks with one but they still do not do a good job of cutting up heels and end cuts.  I have been using a clamp similar to the one you made Dave.  Make sure you notch the rock first!  I lost a couple of blades on ends that did not hold in the clamp well.  I am currently just glueing rocks to scrap 2x4s and it seems to work well.
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« Reply #26 on: April 28, 2010, 09:10:59 pm »

I know what you are saying. The gripper has some limitations. I found out that in the lapidary world, there is not a magic clamp that does it all. I am still working with wood and glue. I found it works great! The slab grabber looks good for me too. It is also less $$$. Eric
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« Reply #27 on: April 30, 2010, 08:44:56 pm »

great information all. Gearge help where was the clamp for $40?? I would have to pay a machinest more than that.
Alvin
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« Reply #28 on: April 30, 2010, 09:26:09 pm »

There are a few on this eBay page Alvin.

 walker
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« Reply #29 on: May 02, 2010, 06:59:14 pm »

well guys I can not make those tools dancer5 found them all on ebay under slab grabbers. thanks for letting me know these existed. never seen them before.
Alvin
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« Reply #30 on: May 05, 2010, 03:47:09 pm »


I posted a pic of my 'Comet' vise a few weeks ago asking what it was and how to use it.  Everyone was very helpful.  I did bolt it to the sled directly but that as not good as I had to remove it to much for other slab cutting.  Then, I think it was Bob who suggested I use a 2x4 under the vise as I was having clearence problems laying it on its side.  Well that worked slicker than slick.  Here are a couple of pics of the slabgrabber and my Comet which looks almost identical to it.

tks
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* Comet Slab Grabber.JPG (244.72 KB, 1024x768 - viewed 73 times.)

* Slabgrabber.jpg (42.15 KB, 200x258 - viewed 813 times.)
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« Reply #31 on: May 05, 2010, 03:53:09 pm »


I tried four times to post three pics so cut the last one off at two pics.  Here is the other pic I wanted to share with the 2x4 under the Comet SlabGraBBer.

Rockoteer

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« Reply #32 on: May 05, 2010, 03:56:15 pm »

Gary, since you have a Lortone like me, There is also another way I use the slab grabber. Since we clamp down on material with the two bolts,  when you clamp the edge of a rock it wants to pop out. Use the clamp as a leveler on the other side of the vise and wallah, the rock won't pop out.  yes
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« Reply #33 on: May 05, 2010, 04:06:10 pm »


Dave, I'm not seeing in my minds eye exactly what you mean.  Any chance you can take a picture?

Sorry..brain not functioning.

Gary(Rockoteer)
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« Reply #34 on: May 05, 2010, 10:07:28 pm »

Will try to find a rock I need to slab like that!
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« Reply #35 on: May 06, 2010, 11:29:55 am »


 bricks  Great Dave.

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-Gary

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« Reply #36 on: January 16, 2011, 07:57:57 pm »


I'm attaching a few photos of my rock grabber that came with my saw......the first photo shows the one who made it as LTA Industries Fresno, Ca. I checked them out and they have a 2 person work force. It apparently must be a Mom & Pop operation but the grabber works really well.

I have no idea of the going price or if it can be purchased......

Don


* js57_IMG_0512.jpg (285.98 KB, 1400x1050 - viewed 26 times.)

* js57_IMG_0513.jpg (271.98 KB, 1400x1050 - viewed 32 times.)

* js57_IMG_0514.jpg (282.16 KB, 1400x1050 - viewed 30 times.)

* js57_IMG_0517.jpg (276.65 KB, 1400x1050 - viewed 24 times.)
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« Reply #37 on: April 09, 2011, 09:20:43 am »

Looking through this thread I’ve seen some pretty good ideas.  I hope that some of you don’t mind that I made a couple of my own and added a couple of modifications that I think may be a little useful.

First of all, I really liked the idea of beginning with the ½ inch cold rolled steel.  The reasoning behind this is that when you cut the grove on the ends, you can leave more material (steel) on the clamp itself.  Looking at the clamp that was made of ¼”, it appears that you would only have about 0.125 to 0.100 of an inch of thickness after you grooved the ends.  That may be adequate for smaller rocks but if you need more clamping force for the larger ones, I think that thicker may be a little safer.  (Just my opinion)

I decided to make a double end clamp or combination clamp, grooving the clamp differently on each side, thinking perhaps one style may work better for a different type or shape of stone.



 I particularly did not think that the sharp, pointed chisel design was the best idea for clamping rock, this design, in my opinion would leave the pointed edge weak and would eventually dull out in different areas quicker and not have as much “holding power”.  Mild steel is still pretty malleable and can deform easily when ground so thin as in a knife edge or chisel edge.   So as you can see, I decided to cut one end with a 3/8th end mill to make a square grove 1/8th of an inch deep and leaving a 1/8th inch X 1/8th inch square end step.

The other side I used a 3/8th ball end mill bit and went 1/8” deep, thus leaving a simi-chisel point and rounded the edge.  Thus leaving the narrowest thickness of the clamp at 0.375” ( 3/8th of an inch)

The other benefit of using the ½ inch stock is that you can tap threads in the bottom clamp and still have a very good thread retention.  With ½ inch all thread @ 16 threads per inch, this gives you 8 threads of retention allowing you to clamp down as much as you like with less chance of you stripping the threads out.
  By threading the bottom clamp, this allows you to illuminate the lower nuts and gives you a clean smooth surface so you can mount the clamp either standing up or laying down on its side.   

 





I have seen these double grooved clamps.. Seemed like one was a bit deeper than the other on them.. Maybe for better grasp on some pieces ??

Went to price these after seeing them again in this thread. Can't seem to find one for under 40.00 with a 5" max capacity..

Seems sorta steep.. ?

Another benefit from this design is that you can always “custom cut to length” any all-thread to your desired length.  In these photos, I used ½”X16 all-thread cut at 8 inches, this length gives me a clamp that can be used to up to 6.5 inches



I also decided to use locking-flanged nuts for stability, and the locking function of the nuts without having to use any additional washers.
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« Reply #38 on: April 09, 2011, 03:19:19 pm »


I have since took the standard vise out and bolted in the 'Comet' vice.  I do like it for getting the very last out of a slab.  I started doing this after I got the 10 inch Lortone up and running.  I may remove it from time to time.

TOG
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« Reply #39 on: April 10, 2011, 12:20:17 am »

I have been making and using my version of the slab grabber noted in the first few posts on this topic for about 30 years. I find that it is quick, easy and cheap to make, the sharp "V" wears a long time and works very well for me. I use larger holes for the jaws because it allows the jaws to tilt slightly to accomodate those times that I don't get the slots in the rough perfectly parallel to each other. I use only two bolts for the same reason and only two nuts, one on opposite sides of the jaws so I can get a very strong leverage grip on the rock. It is very fast and easy for me to clamp the rock in the gripper, usually 15 to 20 seconds, no precise adjustments with multiple bolts and nuts. I don't paint mine because it is immersed in oil and will never rust. I believe in keeping it simple and very versitile and cheap.
The only time that I have had to replace the jaws is when I'm trying to get that one last slab and as I'm eyeballing it in the saw I misjudge how close I'm trimming the rock and I end sawing the tip off the jaw. I make the ends of the jaws long enough so  that I just mill the end of the jaw flat and add a new groove. Another quick, easy fix.
Bob
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« Reply #40 on: May 07, 2011, 10:30:39 pm »

i've been looking at these and one thing i noticed on the smaller clamps is that both the adjustment screws work in the same direction. they both close. if you make the rear screw to open the clamp you will get a thighter clamping action on the front. many of these you can prove this just by putting your wing nut or nut on the inside of the clamp. after you do this get your jaws about even(maybe a little loose on the rear) and tighen your front screw tight. now open(expand the jaws ) with the rear adjustment screw. this will put a whole lot more pressure on the front of the jaw..
ck it out. you'll be surprised..
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