A Guide To Woodworking Clamps

Paul Sellers brings this great video for how to make a marking gauge for under $1. It is simple to make, yet brings a high degree of precision for marking dovetails and dado depths. For some reason the longer clamps where on sale for cheaper, so most of the good clamps I picked up are 48″ or longer, which is what I need at the moment, but I would like to replace my collection of C clamps… I have come up with some rigs with them, but watching good clamps used in the right way is pushing me towards enhancing my collection with good clamps.

The clamps are still made in the USA, and the current models are even stronger than what I bought many years ago. They sit upright when placed on a table, which can be a big advantage over bar clamps. I have a few that will jump without the wax, but they are lesser quality clamps. An old-world traditional design used by wood wrights & shipbuilders that still proves to be a popular tool among cabinetmakers today. Most of the items featured in this episode are available in The Wood Whisperer Amazon Store. They must have updated the Bessey clamps since this video because mine are quite beefy with large ergo handles.

The jaws of a handscrew are rectangular in cross section so the clamp itself can be easily held in a vise or accept the jaws of other clamps. This is important during the crunch time of glue up when the assembly must be true and there is no going back once the glue starts to set. For more in-depth information on gluing and clamping, visit our Gluing and Clamping section in the WOOD Store. I remember using them in David’s shop and they never failed us. I did find them comparable in quality to Bessey’s heavy duty line of clamps. The clamps simply make certain the glue has time to set before stress is put on the doors in normal use.

Well, you are right, there is much hype about clamps and they can be very, very expensive. Used for building boxes, cabinets, frames, joinery, doweling, drilling, etc.. Angle clamps are the solution for all of those impossible projects that usually require creating some type of jig to complete. On some varieties, the jaws can be repositioned so the clamps can serve as a spreader, as well.

No discussion of woodworking clamps would be complete without mentioning these wonderful tools. Making a good thing better: Rockler offers Sure-Foot models of several of the clamp types listed above, including pipe and both crank-handle and F-style bar clamps. Works for almost every joint, and it is stronger than the wood itself—but only if the joint is clamped properly.

While I’m certainly not going to tell you what clamps to buy please credit the original not the copy. I picked up some Bessy Parallel Revo Clamps, Irwin XP600 clamps and a couple of Emerson guide clamps on sale. In his book, Understanding Wood (The Taunton Press, 2000), R. Bruce Hoadley illustrated that the amount of force applied by different types of woodworking clamp varies widely. They’re great for lighter clamping tasks, especially when you’re working alone.

Recently the nose piece on the Fastcap split and became un-repairable (I think this is no longer an issue on the newer version.) But when I checked Amazon I also found these Crews Bearcat glasses with 2. bifocal for half the price (under $5) as long I as I included them with some other purchase. I saw some caulk gun style clamps, I think at Big Lots, and bought a couple years ago because I thought they were ingenious for light clamps.

But the fact that they have that little pad cast into the head so that you can stand up a glued up assembly on it’s head, all the tops of the clamps sitting level on the floor. Light-duty C-clamps are sufficient for most home and shop projects; I’d recommend getting six to eight clamps ranging from 4 in. ($9) to 8 in. ($19); the size indicates the maximum clamping capacity.


Aluminum bar clamps, notably Dubuque Clamp Work’s Universal” variety, are a high quality lightweight alternative to steel clamps, and cost about half as much as parallel clamps of the same length. Meaning, as you move the clamps around, the heads don’t just drop down and crush your hand. Frame clamps will bring all four pieces of a picture frame tightly together and square up the corner joints. I have mostly f-style clamps, a several quick clamps, and two Bessey parallel clamps. This can be an important factor when gluing up smaller projects that might be pulled out of shape by heavier clamps or when you are assembling a large piece that must be moved.

At the very least, I hope I can help you avoid doing what I did in the beginning: buying clamps you don’t need. As well as Woodworking tools, Machine Mart provides a huge range of equipment and tools suitable for everybody from DIY enthusiasts to professional tradesmen. As you can see in the drawing at right, each one consists of a long, wood rail with two clamp heads.

The Irwin Quick Grip 6 Clamp Set is a great ​place to start because it gives you various sizes and for the price of one high-end clamp (around $40). Generally, clamps with T-handles exert more pressure than those with round handles. Specialty clamps: Band clamps include a ratcheting mechanism that makes them good for clamping round, odd-shaped or multi-sided assemblies, ranging from boxes to chairs. But even with picture frames, I still reinforce the clamping with regular parallel clamps.

Pipe clamps consist of a pair of heads that can be attached to any length of iron pipe to instantly create a clamp. Bessey’s fast-acting Tradesman series clamps (below, red) and Jorgensen’s clutch-style clamps (below, orange) are good choices. The price of a 24″-long parallel clamp by Bessey, Jet or Jorgensen averages about $45, while a 48″ or 50″ is about $60, and so on and upward for longer clamps.

That would be a very rare occurrence for most of us. In general I can manage perfectly well with 10 x 2′ alluminium clamps, 6 x 36″ alluminium clamps as shown. As a result, it’s often a good idea to put a piece of scrap wood or a clamping block between the clamp and the surface of the workpiece to protect it and to distribute the clamping pressure. I like having parallel clamps around because of the flat bottoms and straight jaws.

The reconditioned tools usually carry the same warranty as the new tools so they are a safe investment of your woodworking dollars. Plus the nifty rail pads and end rail clips make it simple to set up a large case or face frame clamping assembly nearly painless. Amazon has great prices on reconditioned tools and in many cases they qualify for free shipping.

Parallel-jaw bar clamps: These bar clamps have jaws covered with non-marring, non-stick plastic faces that are designed to remain parallel when the clamps are tightened. In the midst of a glue-up I sometimes discover that I can’t tighten the handles of my clamps down the way I used to, at least not without more discomfort in my hands. Manxm 0 seconds ago Reply I also used springy wood to hold up cornices as they dried on the ceiling corners. I also spent a small fortune on the wrong” clamps when I first started out and hopefully your concise review will prevent others from making the same mistakes. I was looking for deep throat F clamps and I cannot find the Blue Rockler clamps.

FWW conducted a test using four different staff members; two Fine Woodworking editors, our female copy editor, and a brawny Fine Homebuilding editor. The clamp style you need will be determined by the woodworking project you’re working on. Just remember, you simply cannot have enough clamps. Thus, while waiting for the plumbers near Sydney to arrive, you can just DIY and try to alleviate the plumbing problem if you have the right set of tools. Check in every weekday for news, information, projects, and answers to questions from Fine Woodworking readers everywhere. The unofficial rule is that eventually you will come across a project that requires more clamps than you have.

Square glue ups: The jaws on parallel-jaw clamps are long and flat, so you need fewer clamps and they keep assemblies perfectly square. There is a problem in building a tool kit: you’ll soon need a fairly large number of clamps but a sizable set of top quality parallel clamps is expensive. Individual clamps can cost anywhere from a couple of bucks to $75 or more, and a mid-size collection can easily cost as much as a major power tool. The magazine’s female copy editor represented one end of the strength scale, a brawny former builder at Fine Homebuilding represented the other, and a couple of Fine Woodworking editors fell in between.

Skillfully tweaking the position and force of high quality parallel clamps can help make critical alignments easy. To add a bit of control, it is best to epoxy a piece shaped wood or plastic to one of the moving parts. Irwin also makes larger varieties if your woodworking project calls for it. ​The Irwin 24 inch Quick Grip Bar Clamp is a great example at about half the price of similarly sized high-end brands. You can never have too many clamps in your wood shop, so get some of these for your collection! Thanks for the answer to this one, Im just starting to get into the wood and recently purchased serveral types of clamps so i could start glueing boards.