The Clamp: Soldering Made Simple & Fast
Holds objects steady while soldering and swivels for a 360 view while working.
The Clamp: Soldering Made Simple & Fast
Holds objects steady while soldering and swivels for a 360 view while working.
You're in the middle of soldering something and your worst fear happens...it moves and you melt the wrong part. Sound familiar?
About 30 years ago I became completely fed up with the soldering tools available. Nothing would give me a solid grip on the piece I was working on.
The only options available for soldering were tweezers/3rd arm devices...none of which held things firmly.
Example: 3rd Arm/Tweezers (watch the full video here)
Example: 3rd Arm Station/Two Pairs of Tweezers (watch the full video here)
I was wasting time and loosing money. So, I decided it was time to build my own tool and solve the problem.
My Requirements Were:
- It needed give me a secure grip on what I was working on
- It needed to hold different sizes and shapes, without crushing delicate pieces
- It needed to swivel so I did not have to remove the piece while working on it
- It needed to hold the piece at right height for me to work on it
- It could not be a heat sink. I was tired of burning my finger tips
- It had to hold up to high heats
- It had to be built well and stand up to daily use
- It had to attach to my bench quickly and get out of my way just as quickly
After taking all of this into account, I had this prototype built:
It worked so well that I also had additional tools made for the bench men working under me.
Fast forward 30 years and I'm still using the same fully functional prototype.
I can't imagine working without it now. The Clamp sped up my workflow significantly. It also enabled me to be much more precise in my work because when the piece you are working on moves while soldering, you can't be precise.
But enough talk, let me show you the tool in action...
1) It attaches to my bench quickly and gets out of my way just as quickly. My current speed record: Just under 2 seconds to slide it onto the bench mount & secure it.
2) It gives me a secure grip on what I'm working on and minimizes heat sink while holding up to high temperature solders.
I’ve been using The Clamp with high temperature solders for 30 years and have had no problems. When I’m working with platinum solders or welding (like I am in this video), the temperature ranges from 1,832 to 3,272 degrees Fahrenheit (1,000 to 1,800 Celsius).
It has been designed to minimize the amount of amount of heat that spreads throughout the tool when you are soldering. The heat stays near the area exposed to the torch and with normal use, doesn't travel down to the base of the jaw. Of course no tool can completely contain high temperatures, so you need to use common sense when handling the tool while hot.
3) It swivels 360 degrees so you don't have to take what you are working on out of the jaws. If you'd like to watch the full video, please click here.
4) It holds different sizes & shapes and does not crush delicate pieces. The design of the jaw allows for very small items (Ex: Small heads) to be held securely as well as larger items (up to 11mm wide). The jaws are 52.55 mm wide by .6mm thick.
5) You may be wondering about the small hole I added to the top of the jaws. Sometimes I'll slide a prong through the hole or a drill bit to provide a bit of extra security when working with unevenly shaped jewelry.
6) It holds the piece at right height for me to work on it. If you've ever worked with a tool that holds things at a height that's uncomfortable for you... you know what a big deal this is.
7) The top of the jaws helps you make sure your piece is level. This helps you greatly when you are working on something like putting a head into a ring.
At the end of 2018, I took a look at the soldering tools on the market and realized that the problematic tweezer systems were still dominating the market. No one had found a way to fix to the problems associated with soldering jewelry.
So, I decided to make up a small batch of tools and see if other bench jewelers could benefit from the tool the way I had.
Before I had them made up, I made a few tweaks to the design. After 30 years of use, I knew the quirks of the tool and made the minor changes needed. Here is the updated design:
My first prototype has lasted me over 30 years now. So when I went to have the tool made for others, I made sure to select materials just as durable.
The first small batch that I had made up for others were made of durable high temperature steel (jaws) and anodized aluminum (base & bench mount) with a hard plastic ball joint.
The tool measures 8.25 inches (20.95 cm) tall by 2 inches (5.08 cm) wide. The jaws are 2 inches (52.55 mm) wide by .6mm thick.
I partnered with a local family run business here in the San Francisco Bay Area to make The Clamp. To maintain the high quality of my tool, I chose to have it made and assembled in the USA. Working with another family run business near me ensured that I could oversee the production of the parts.
THE FIRST SMALL BATCH OF TOOLS
I didn't have to wonder for long if other jewelers would find the tool useful. The first small batch of tools sold out quickly.
What did the jewelers using The Clamp think of it? Here are a few of the testimonials I've received so far:
As a side point - Not a single tool has been returned. And, no problems have been reported either.
Ever since I sold out, I've had jewelers asking when they can order The Clamp.
After doing some research, I quickly realized that my next step is a production order. As you might imagine, a production order is quite large and expensive. And as you also might suspect (I'm here on Kickstarter after all)... it's much more than my bank account can handle.
In addition to finding a way to place a production order, I wanted to give back to the jewelers who have been so enthusiastic in their support of my tool.
A successful Kickstarter campaign will give me a chance to do both of these things…the next batch of tools gets made and I can offer a significant savings to those that support my campaign.
The first batch of tools I sold at a loss. It cost me more to make them than I sold them for. But with a large production order, my price per unit goes down significantly and during this campaign I can pass some of the savings onto you.
After this campaign is over, any remaining tools will be offered at the regular retail price of $299 per tool. As a thank you to all that support this campaign, you can receive The Clamp as a reward for your support and at a dollar amount less than the regular retail price.
DESIGN & MATERIALS UPDATES FOR THE PRODUCTION ORDER
Base and Bench Mount Redesign
In order to give the first small batch of tools I produced a snug fit against both flat and curved bench edges, I attached small pieces of metal tape to the the back of the base. For the first production order, I’ve made a minor design change that will eliminate this need. The new design will fit both bench shapes without any metal tape attached.
Base and Bench Mount Material
For my first production order I’m changing the material of the base & bench mount. Instead of anodized aluminum, I will be taking full advantage of cutting edge technology to 3D print these two parts in carbon fiber.
This super durable material will reduce the tool’s weight and also help bring down the materials cost. This small change moves the cost of this tool into a range where I can make a small profit, which in turn means I can continue to make more tools after this batch.
The hinging method has been changed for the production order. I did this to streamline the manufacturing and assembly of the tool. You won’t notice any difference in the function of the jaws but it will look slightly different…the cap and two screws on the front of the jaws are now gone.
I’ve gone through a couple of different ways of putting the logo on the side of the tool. First it was laser engraved (crazy expensive) and then we switched to a sticker (such a pain put on straight). Now that we are switching to 3D printed carbon fiber for the base, the logo can be added when it’s printing. Good riddance to stickers!
HOW DO I ORDER MULTIPLE BENCH MOUNTS OR MORE CLAMPS?
It's very easy...first, become a backer (click on "Back This Project") and pick a reward. Then increase your pledge dollar amount by $245 (for an additional Clamp) or $21 (for a Bench Mount).
FYI - Do not claim the bench mount reward and add $245 for a Clamp thinking it will save you on postage (yes, I thought of that loophole). You will need to pay the correct amount of postage for your tool to ship...so just claim the tool reward and add the extra bench mount on. You'll save both of us a whole lot of frustration.
After the campaign ends, I'll send you a survey asking you to specify which items you want to add on.
I’ve been using my prototype for 30 years without any problems. But if something should go wrong with your tool, it's backed by a lifetime warranty. Simply send the tool back to me and I will return a fully functional Clamp to you. If it can be repaired, I will repair it. If not, I will send you a brand new tool.
HOW DO I CLEAN THE TOOL?
Cleaning is a simple process. If you have a flux buildup, simply put it under your steamer. The moist heat will dissolve any build up very quickly.
If the pivot point on the moveable jaw starts to become too tight, use your streamer or hot water to loosen it. Air dry the jaw by using compressed air. If you’d like, use a bit of light oil on the pivot point after it has dried.
WHY $65,000? AND, WHERE WILL THE MONEY GO?
This is the amount I need to cover having all the parts for the tools made (the parts are made by a local family owned business and then we assemble them ourselves), purchase shipping supplies, and cover the Kickstarter & credit card processing fees. I've also built in a bit for the unexpected because, let's face it...the unexpected always happens.
WHAT DO YOU ANTICIPATE THE PRODUCTION SCHEDULE BEING?
Through out the planning of this campaign, I've kept the company that makes the parts for The Clamp updated on my plans and if this campaign reaches its goal, they are ready to immediately start production when we receive our funds. Our goal is to ship our first batches of tools (Early Bird orders will go out first) out late November/early December so you can have these tools on your benches before the Christmas rush hits. We believe this is a reachable goal and have built in extra time for the unexpected. Please see the Risks and Challenges section below for more details.
I will be shipping rewards via USPS First Class mail from San Jose, California. At this time, shipping upgrades are not available. If something changes and I'm able to offer this, I will share it in the updates. All shipments delivered within the USA will have tracking numbers.
International shipments: All taxes and customs fees are your responsibility. And, no, we cannot alter the value of the shipment. The total value of the item(s) will be listed on the customs declaration form.
I LIVE NEARBY. CAN I PICK IT UP FROM YOU?
Unfortunately, we are not set up for in-person pick up of rewards right now.
WHAT IS YOUR REFUND AND RETURN POLICY?
While The Clamp is guaranteed for life, I don't offer refunds or returns on items received as Kickstarter rewards.
Your support of this Kickstarter campaign will enable me to have this tool made and help run my business. The items you receive when you support my campaign are called “rewards” and are not purchases in the traditional sense. Think of the rewards as thank you gifts for supporting my business.
A good example I’ve seen other Kickstarter campaigns use is public television fundraisers. When you support your local public television station during one of their telethons, you receive gifts and continued programming. The same thing is happening here. You receive a gift for your support of my business.
I appreciate your understanding of this policy and all the support you’ve given me. If after using your reward you truly feel it offers no value to you, here are a few suggestions….
- Share it! It may not work for you but there are many who would find it a very valuable tool.
- Sell it! My Kickstarter rewards are priced well below retail, so if you want to recuperate the value and possibly more, sell it to another bench jeweler or hobbyist.
- Give the tool another chance. Sometimes it takes a little bit to get used to using a new tool. If you want to learn more about using the tool, please head over to my YouTube channel and watch any of the many video tutorials to see how I use The Clamp in my daily workflow. You can find my YouTube channel here.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me here: firstname.lastname@example.org
WHO IS BEHIND THIS CAMPAIGN?
My name is Jeff Bagley (you can see a photo of me at the top right of this page & that's me in the videos). I've been a bench man specializing in medium to high end gold and platinum jewelry for the last 52 years. Since the early 1980's I've run my own business, The Gold Torch. The majority of the time, I'm building custom fine jewelry for retail jewelry stores across the country.
My daughter, Melissa, is helping me run this campaign because I'm a full time bench man. She is also a business owner that has run her own photography/short films (plus social media & WordPress consulting) business since 1995. You can find out more about her here.
My wife, Pam, does all of the bookkeeping for both of my businesses and attempts to keep me organized (which is a full time job in itself).
When it comes to assembling the tools and getting them shipped out to you, that will be done by myself, Pam, and Melissa. This truly is a family business!
Want to see even more of The Clamp in action? Please check out my YouTube channel here for many more tutorials.
You can find The Clamp website here.
Do you have questions? Please feel free to contact me here: email@example.com
And, last but not least, thank you for taking the time to check out my campaign. If you like what you see...
Risks and challenges
I've gone through the budget and timeline on this project with the proverbial fine tooth comb. That being said, the unexpected can and does happen.
This may be my first large production order of this tool but it is not my first order. I've gotten a feel for the production schedule with the first smaller order I placed and have built in some extra time so if something does go awry, we have a bit of wiggle room.
Manufacturing Risks: Machines can break down, the wrong materials could be shipped to our parts manufacturer, they could loose power for a day... as with all businesses, lots of little things could happen. But, I've worked with this manufacturer before and know they are just as determined to deliver on time as I am.
Acts of God: This is the San Francisco Bay Area and we are known to have the occasional earthquake or who knows, we could run out of coffee because all the techies drank it up. Whatever it is, we will deal with it and get through it.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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