For decades I’ve used spiral wraps of slender strips of rubber cut from inner tubes in gluing up oars, paddles, and spars. I used the rubber strips initially because I didn’t have enough clamps for the longer pieces or clamps large enough to span blanks for oar and paddle blades. Even though I now have plenty of clamps, including bar clamps, I still use rubber strips for those particular jobs. The strips are easy to apply and provide plenty of pressure. The rubber weighs next to nothing—a set of clamps is heavy and can cause a workpiece to sag and curve—and hardly occupies any space while doing its job, so the workpiece is easy to set aside while the glue cures.
While the stretch wrap is not reusable, it is recyclable. The roll I bought at Home Depot is made by Pratt Retail Specialties and is made of 100% recycled plastic, and, according to my online research, it can be recycled. Stretch wraps are usually made of linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE), a category-four recyclable material. It can be recycled along with low-density polyethylene (LDPE), which is also a category-four material, at locations where plastic-film products such as plastic bags are collected. Check with your local recycling programs. The stretch wrap cannot be recycled with the remnants of Titebond on it.
While I haven’t used the stretch wrap on bird’s-mouth spars yet, I will the next time I have the opportunity. I expect the wrap, along with rubber strips and maybe some of the stainless-steel hose clamps I’ve used for past spars, will be a combination that tidies up another very messy glue-up. While it’s often said a boatbuilder can never have too many clamps, there are jobs more easily and just as effectively done without using any at all.
Christopher Cunningham is the editor of Small Boats Monthly.
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