Clamps are commonly used to bind glued surfaces tightly together until the fastening material has set. Types of clamps included the Panel clamp, used to hold together the frame and panels of house doors, interior wall paneling, or the paneled doors of a desk and bookcase.
(Below) Panel clamp, Nathaniel Dominy IV (Maker), 1760-1800. Pine, white ; Hickory; Iron. 6.1" (H) , 65" (L) , 2.87" (W). Museum purchase with funds provided by Henry Belin du Pont, 1957.0026.226.
Slat-bending clamps were used to force slats for chairs to retain a curved shape. After the wood slats were steamed over boiling water or actually dipped in hot water, they became flexible and could be bent. By pushing one end of the slats against an upright block of the clamp and then putting the other movable block in place, the slats, when dried, conformed to the curved shape of the clamp. The thickness of slats used in chairs made by the Dominys indicates that this clamp would hold four slats.
(Below) Slat-bending clamp, Nathaniel Dominy V (maker), 1800-1840. Tulip, white pine, red oak. 7 1/2" (H), 27 1/6" (L), 3 7/8" (W). Museum purchase with funds provided by Henry Belin du Pont, 1957.0026.223.
Clamps did not appear in eighteenth- or early-nineteenth-century tool catalogues, nor were they offered for sale in the advertisements of tool distributors that appeared in American newspapers of the same period. It can be reasonably assumed that these wood clamps were made and used in the Dominy woodworking shop. American wood was used in their construction; and the presence of conjoined initials ND on some of them suggests their East Hampton origin.