This post is completely sewing related yet doesn’t contain any actual sewing. I ventured into woodworking and made myself a clapper! Perhaps you now wonder what a clapper is? It is a wooden pressing tool. It is used to give seams or folds an additional press immediately after pressing with a steam iron. This helps to make things even flatter. It is apparently very useful for sewing jeans because all those layers of denim can get quite thick and the flatter you get a seam before topstitching the easier it will be.
I looked around for clappers but couldn’t find any in the Netherlands (I am not even sure what it is called in Dutch, so that probably didn’t help my search) and buying one abroad would probably cost me at least €30-40 including shipping. That is just too much for something that is in essence a simple block of hardwood. I figured I would make one myself and went to a hardware store.
My first idea was to buy a piece of hardwood and shape that into a clapper. That would probably have worked well and I still think this is the easiest option if you would like to make a clapper yourself. However, they only sold really long pieces and to get one the width and thickness I wanted I would have had to spend €30+ euro on a single piece of wood of which I would only use maybe a tenth, which seemed a bit of a waste (and not really cheaper than buying a ready made clapper). I also didn’t really see myself getting home safely on my bike while carrying a more than 2 meter long piece of quite heavy wood.
So, I wandered a bit around the store looking for other items that I could potentially convert into a clapper. I found some solid beech wood door sills. Beech wood is hardwood but I’m not sure whether this is the best option for a clapper. Anyway, I was willing to give it a try, and at just over €5 it seemed a much better option than the ridiculously long piece of wood. A door sill isn’t really thick though so I decided to use two layers, glue those together and add a drawer handle on top that I could use to press my clapper down on my seams.
I learned from my dad that you can’t really start a project like this without first buying some new tools so I bought a wood saw. I needed to cut down my door sill into smaller pieces after all and for some strange reason we did own a metal saw but not a wood saw. I also considered getting a workmate but sadly couldn’t fit one on my bike… Some wood glue and fine grit sandpaper completed my purchases.
I first sawed two pieces from the door sill. I was quite amazed at how straight and equally sized my two pieces ended up. I then drilled two holes into one of the pieces for the handle that would be large enough to fit the screws. Then I sanded both pieces first with 80, then 120, 240 and finally 320 grit sandpaper. Especially the sides needed to become a lot smoother after sawing. The handle was put in place with a screwdriver, and the holes were almost perfect! I got a little excited at this point. The wood glue was put on one of the pieces and the two pieces were held together with a G-clamp. I only used one because I could only find one (perhaps we only have one?) but two would probably have been better.
After successfully completing this project I am feeling competent on a whole new level. Perhaps I should take a woodworking course and learn how to make dovetails next?
Does a project like this scare you or are you quite handy with saws and power tools?
Well done! It’s maybe a good job you went to the store on your bike, you’d have come home with all sorts if you’d gone in a car and you’ve done a fab job with just the basics. I think you could make and sell them locally to other sewists who don’t want to have to pay shopping costs from abroad. 😃
I don’t have a driver’s license so I don’t have much choice when I go someplace on my own. If I go somewhere by car it’s usually with my boyfriend and I’m pretty sure he’d have stopped me from going too crazy…
I don’t think I have enough patience to make multiples, I’m just happy with this one. 😉
Well done, I remember using one of these when I did a lot of dressmaking years ago. I just used a wooden block, yours is much nicer with a handle.
A wooden block is really all you need. The handle does make it easier to grab though and the way I constructed it out of two layers it was quite easy to add one.
Congratulations! If they don’t exist in the Netherlands, you can feel free to name your clapper what you like. Give it a good name, not just ‘afplatter’ or something boringly descriptive…
The thing is I am not even sure whether they exist. Right now I just call it a clapper.
Ingenious and fantastic result. You have a great can-do attitude. I would buy your naad-plat-houten-ijzer (Google translate is a hoot.) If I could draw, I’d draw you on your bicycle blithely pedalling home with the large piece of wood, with pedestrians ducking left and right – or a panier of metal objects and you thinking, ‘How hard can it be to make an overlocker?’
Wahaahhahaha, an overlocker??? Maybe if it comes as a kit with instructions, like Lego.
Wow! That is awesome! I’m not personally adverse to tools and woodworking, but I just can’t keep up with what I already have going. I’m so impressed with you you rose to the challenge. It appears that you may be planning to sew some jeans in the near future? 😀
Yes, jeans are very high on the agenda. I’ll probably blog a bit about the whole process of making them as it also involves making the pattern and fitting a muslin.
I’m definitely interested in your process. I love your posts. The process and the clarity with which you describe it. I can’t wait. 🙂
Fantastic ingenuity! Congratulations on your design & courage! Let us know when you begin manufacturing.
Ah yes, my clapper imperium. Afraid that will never happen… 😉
I’ve been looking for something just like you’ve posted! I knew I could make a clapper myself but needed a picture to look at of a “homemade” one. thank you so much for posting this.
Good luck making one! Just make sure to use hardwood. I was suprised how easy it was to make a functional clapper.
I just ran across your post. WAY TO GO !!! I also agree with your Dad, you should buy a new tool whenever you have a new project. Your sewing needs can have the same rule too !!! Keep up the sewing and making-do !!! Best Wishes.
Thank you! I certainly already have a LOT of sewing tools (not to mention fabric). 😉
Here in the US the newest tool to have is a clapper for quilting, a much smaller version that I used in high school for wool working. This is a perfect idea, great instructions, thank you!!
You are welcome! I have not yet come across the use of a clapper for quilting, I am going to look into this!
Thank you for the instruction post. I will now go to our lumber yard and find something to make something similar to yours. Though I think I have a small piece of wood outside. Though it is under the snow now. I will have to go dig it out and let it dry up a bit.
Good luck! I still find mine very useful, I now mostly use it for pressing quilt seams flat and it works very well. I expect most pieces of wood with a flat smooth surface will do the trick.