Patrick and Leah founded their studio LAYERxlayer in the name of design and collaboration. Today, they are sharing the construction of their SPRUCE clamp.
The SPRUCE Clamp was born out of necessity. The idea for this project was simple: I remember working one day and becoming frustrated by the amount of stuff cluttering the work table. The real problem was that I needed frequently used tools and my headphones to be out of the way, but also be accessible at a moments notice.
“What I really need is a little tree to hang this stuff on!” With that exclamation a quick sketch was done, concepts were thrown around, and the SPRUCE Clamp was created. Now our studio looks like a mini-forest.
The name is a bit misleading – while the Clamp gets its namesake from the resemblance it has to a Spruce Tree, the entire clamp is made out of Poplar. Why Poplar? Well, the three attributes that were essential to this project were price, quality, and strength. In this case, Poplar is the best choice. Also, it goes without saying that we strive to have the least environmental impact, which is why the Poplar dowels used are grown and manufactured in the USA. The annual growth of the forest exceeds the harvest, which of course is a good thing.
Although it may sound strange, we consider the act of making (the tools, techniques and materials used) as important to the project as the design itself. In that sense, we also design the process. You can almost view it as a performance or role play, whereas the goal is to gain a greater understanding of the piece and its meaning. Here you see the pieces cut to size and the hand tools that will be used.
We start by making the clamp body, that is, the piece that physically holds onto the table. We use a forstner bit to drill two very precise and clean holes.
The hole on the right is where the trunk of the tree will be connected to the clamp body. On the left side, the small hole within the larger hole will be threaded to accept the screw mechanism.
After securing the clamp body in a vise, we use a 1/2″ tap to create the inner threads.
The next step is to drill holes for the dowels that hold the trunk to the clamp body.
In order to connect the branches to the trunk, we need to drill a 40-degree hole. In order to do this, we had to build a custom jig. The jig is adjustable, so that we can drill both the holes in the trunk and the holes in the branches that hold the smaller sub-branches, or twigs.
To create the threads for the screw, we use a router attached to a special jig. As we turn the dowel through, it cuts the threads. Takes a bit of fine-tuning, but the results are well worth it.
Just about perfect threads.
Another custom jig, albeit a much more simple one that allows us to drill out the center of the screw cap. This step is repeated to create the stopper that interacts with the surface of the table.
Another jig used to drill a hole for a small wooden pin that holds the threaded dowel to the screw cap.
Putting some finishing details on the clamp body – using a punch to imprint “L X L” – the mark of the maker.
Assembling. Something we are very proud of is the fact that the SPRUCE Clamp uses an incredibly small amount of glue. This was a very important goal that we set for the project and is largely achieved through the use of precise tools and hopefully, the skill of the craftsman.
Apron hanging on Clamp, job well done. And by the way, we made the apron as well.
Also available in a three branch configuration, which is called the ELM Clamp. All designs by LAYERxlayer are made in the USA.