Proper Use of Beam Clamps

Though primarily used in construction, beam clamps have a variety of uses the do-it-yourselfer can apply on projects at home.

Clamp Anatomy

Beam clamps are often used in conjuction with safety harnesses.
Some of their uses include safety, lifting and moving beams or other heavy objects. You must choose the correct beam clamp and lifting mechanisms for the jobs at hand. .

Beam clamps have different configurations and profiles. For the do-it-yourselfer, beam clamps that attach to wooden beams of almost any shape and size might prove more advantageous over those that attach to steel I-beams, unless attaching to an anchored steel pipe. Beam clamps may have a scissor-type action or threaded bolts that tighten to secure it. The profile of the clamp typically indicates the type of beam for which it is designed. The weight rating of the clamp and the beam it attaches to determine its load-carrying capacity, as some are designed to secure small loads, while others can handle hundreds of pounds.

Fall Security

A beam clamp secured to a U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration approved support, can provide the anchor point for securing a safety harness and line system when doing roof repairs or renovations. In work situations, OSHA requires a support capable of handling 5,000 pounds. Wood may be acceptable as a temporary anchor but must be engineer-certified. Slip the jaws around the beam as far as possible, or until the clamp bottoms out on it. Use the appropriate wrench to tighten it. Use a safety-approved attachment to the beam clamp to secure a rope, chain or other device with a safety harness you wear to protect against falling from a roof, ceiling or anywhere this type of security is needed. Consult manufacturer's directions, local codes and all safety precautions before using beam clamps as a rooftop security measure.

Lifting Clamps

Beam clamps can be an essential part of a lifting device when combined with a block and tackle or simple pulley system. Ensure the clamp is suitable for the application by weight capacity, size and beam profile. Choose the spot on the beam that's directly above the item that you desire to lift, and verify that the beam's dimensions and makeup can support the item before attempting to lift it. Attach the clamp to the beam by tightening screws or bolts, as per its type. Attach the lifting mechanism to the bottom of the beam clamp -- if it's not already designed with one. Securely attach the rope or chain to the item to be lifted and proceed with the lift.

Clamp Precautions

Do not use unidentified or uncertified beam clamps, as you don't know their performance capabilities. Do not use beam clamps that appear damaged. Do not replace bolts, shackles or other clamp components without consulting the manufacturer. Ensure that all external attachments or components are compatible with the beam clamp. Don't force attachments to fit into the eyes or shackles of beam clamps. Do not attempt lifting operations unless you have training or experience in following safety procedures and know how to use the equipment correctly. Verify that the beam you clamp to can support the weight being lifted before attaching to it.

About the Author

Specializing in hardwood furniture, trim carpentry, cabinets, home improvement and architectural millwork, Wade Shaddy has worked in homebuilding since 1972. Shaddy has also worked as a newspaper reporter and writer, and as a contributing writer for Bicycling Magazine. Shaddy began publishing in various magazines in 1992, and published a novel, “Dark Canyon,” in 2008.