Quick and easy method for holding sheets together, for test fitting, welding, drilling or riveting.
There is a tool you can purchase for every task required in sheet metal construction. Some of these are “must haves” and some are “nice to have”. Cleco’s are a must have.
The basic steps of sheet metal repair are: template, cut to size, bend/fold/shape, test fit, adjust, test fit, adjust, weld in final position. The most important part of the process is to create an accurate fitting piece, and the easiest way to do this is to make the test fit repeatable.
That is where the word “Cleco” comes into play. A Cleco is a small metal holder that is installed in a hole to temporarily fasten two pieces of metal together.
Once the patch panel is close, a small hole can be drilled, a Cleco inserted, then another. This will hold the piece tight to the surface and accurately in place. Any changes can be marked, the piece removed, modified and replaced in exactly the same position. Cleco’s are installed using a special type of pliers — Cleco pliers. Best to have a couple of pairs of Cleco pliers around (as you will use this tool regularly).
1. Begin by holding the first piece in position over the second.
2. Drill the appropriate size hole through both pieces.
3. Place first Cleco into the Cleco pliers and compress Cleco.
4. Insert the Cleco into the hole and release the pliers.
5. Continue to drill and insert Cleco’s one at a time as needed.
6. Remove by placing the Cleco pliers onto the Cleco and compress pliers to extract.
7. Cleco’s are re-useable.
Available in different sizes, with 1/8” being the most common for automotive work. Cleco’s are colour coded as follows:
Hole size Colour
3/32” (#40) Zinc
1/8” (#30) Copper
5/32” (#20) Black
3/16” (#11) Brass
Other types of clecos are known as side grip cleco clamps and wing nut clecos. The side grip clecos are used to hold material together without holes being drilled.