Having trouble deciding on the best wood clamp for your woodworking project? Every workshop has a collection of C-clamps and most people have a basic understanding of how they work. What many people fail to realize is that there are a wide variety of different types of woodworking clamps all with unique purposes and uses.
When you are just starting your wood shop or planning some DIY projects, you might be confused about all the options that are available. To help you make a better selection, here are some of the most common clamps and what they’re used for.
C-Clamps tend to be inexpensive and are often used in woodworking projects. They are geared toward most general woodworking or even metalworking projects. They can be limited in uses due to the size restraints, but the deeper “C” shape does allow for some room to move things around.
C-clamps tend to lose torque over time but the fact that they are inexpensive makes up for that. Most people will own several sizes of C-clamps for a variety of projects.
Best C-Clamp Kit
Wilton 11115 C-Clamp Kit
The Wilton 540 C-Clamp kit features strong, iron-cast frames with a high quality oscillating ball and socket tip. The set features 4 different clamp sizes ranging from 2 1/2", 4", 6", and 8" opening capacities. This clamp kit is ideal for woodworking and light industrial applications.
When you need to hold two pieces together at a right angle, a miter clamp might be a good resource. The two clamping fixtures are set at a 90-degree angle. All you need to do is slide in the board, tighten the handles and the clamp will hold them together. Miter clamps are typically used for miter joints, picture frames and moldings.
Best Miter Clamp
MLCS 9001 Can-Do Clamp
The Can-Do clamp is unique thanks to being both a clamp and a vise. It's a great option for framing, drilling and doweling. Also has mounting holes for easy mounting to a workbench.
When you are working with unusual objects, circular work, picture frames or irregular shapes, you might find that a strap clamp is just what you need. Most people don’t come to this conclusion until after struggling with a project for quite some time.
The strap clamp offers the ability to clamp a large area with odd angles.
Best Strap Clamp
POWERTEC 71017 Band Clamp
This strap clamp is great for square, round or irregular shape workpieces. The quick-release levels allow for easy adjustment when clamp your piece. The hard plastic frame and jaws will not mar most surfaces when tightening.
Bar clamps are used for clamping larger projects. Typically you would use them when working on furniture, tables other jobs. This tends to be one of the more common clamps used for a woodworking project.
Bar Clamps can be slightly expensive when compared with other clamps. Investing the money will not disappoint as you will find many uses for the bar clamp down the road. When choosing a bar clamp, attempt to avoid aluminum versions as they can bend and lose torque
Best Bar Clamp
IRWIN QUICK-GRIP Clamp 4-Pack
This excellent 4-pack from Irwin features non-marring pads for safe clamping. The quick-grip design allows for one-handed operation while packing a powerful 140 lbs. of clamping force. The 6" size is ideal for clamping smaller workpieces or for tight areas.
The straight-edge clamp is used as a guide for making straight cuts. You would use it with your circular saw or router for best results. By using an edge clamp, you don’t have to leave the straight lines to chance to anymore.
Best Edge Clamp
E. Emerson Tool Co. C50 Straight Edge Clamp
The C50 straight edge clamp is extra wide for excellent rigidity and the low profile keeps it out of the way of your saw when cutting.
When you are working with a pipe, you need a versatile pipe clamp. It is exceptionally good with larger projects and is used like torque machines. The nice thing about pipe clamps is that there is no size restriction on the object you clamp. You can purchase the largest piece of pipe and the clamp will work just as well.
Best Pipe Clamp
Bessey BPC-H34 H-Style Pipe Clamp
The H-style Bessey BPC-H34 pipe clamp has an extra high base for adequate clearance from the workspace. The clamp also provides two soft jaw caps to prevetn marring of any material being clamped.
This old-world design is still used today, mainly by shipbuilders. Sometimes a cabinetmaker will also find this old tool to be useful.
These are only some of the many varieties of clamps you can choose from. Whatever project you are working on, there is a clamp that will assist in your efforts.
How to use clamps
No matter what type of clamp you choose, there are some simple rules that will make the process easier for you.
- Use scrap wood – Use a spare piece of wood to place between the jaws of the clamp and your work area. This will prevent damage to the piece you are working on.
- Firm even pressure – The pressure from the clamp should be applied at right angles to the glue line. Failure to do this could result in slippage.
- Clamp on tight – Once you’ve positioned the clamp, close the jaws until the clamp appears to be tight. If there is glue involved in the project, you will notice some squeeze around the joint. This is a good sign that the clamp is on tight enough.
- Don’t overdo it! – While tightening the clamp is important, you don’t ever want to overtighten. The general purpose for the clamp is to apply uniform pressure between surfaces. Don’t use a clamp to force the surfaces to fit together. Moderate pressure should be all you need to complete the task.
- Avoid surface damage – One handy way to keep C-clamps from marring surfaces is to apply milk caps as pads.
- Extending clamps – When you need extra-long clamps, bolt bar clamps together. Drive out the retaining pins at the ends of two bar clamps. Then, drill two ¼-inch holes into the bars at the ends. Remove the movable jaw from one bar and reverse the movable jaw on the other clamp. Screw the bars together with ¼-inch machine screws plus nuts.
It is easy to see that no matter what project you are planning, one of the many different types of woodworking clamps should assist you. Take your time and choose the clamp you feel best fits your needs. Just remember, sometimes woodworking problems are based on trial and error. It may take a few different varieties before you find the one geared specifically toward your job.
Share this Post