8 Popular Types of Clamps for Woodworking
Each clamp for woodworking has a specific purpose, since no single clamp is able to perform all types of functions. There are eight major types of clamps used for woodworking, each with its ideal use. Note that any woodworker is going to need at least a few clamps to avoid having materials slip while working, though you may only need one miter clamp and multiple C-clamps.
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A C-clamp is made up of a large, single curved body shaped like a C, hence the name. The screw passes through one end of the C and ends at the upper tip of the “C”. There are variations like the three way edging clamp with three adjustable clamping screw instead of a single one, which is used to hold edge pieces in place during gluing. These types of clamps are used for basic tasks like holding wood together or, on occasion, holding your instructions to the workbench.
The clamping capacity is proportional to the size of the clamp. Most woodworkers need several of these clamps, since they’ll hold 2x4s in place or keep the wood you’re gluing and nailing together until the job is done. Grip holders are specially designed C-clamps that can act as standard C-clamps or firmly hold 10-inch tools like a vise.
7. Pipe Clamp Fixtures
Pipe clamp fixture can produce an amazing amount of pressure given their size. They will hold very large items securely, or you can use it to exert high pressure on a specific point like galvanized pipe. The headstock fixture is stationary and threaded onto an end of pipe. The adjustable tailstock of the pipe clamp is put on the other end of the pipe, no matter which pipe you choose. The best pipe clamps are easy to adjust and fit securely over the pipe. Note that most pipe clamps are sold separately from the piping. A few have multiple-disk clutches that let it connect almost anywhere to the pipe. More often is the usage of a spring in the tail stop to prevent it from sliding off the pipe.
The clamping capacity of this clamp is determined by the length of pipe. You can use couplings to connect several lengths of pipe. Standard diameters for this type of clamp are half inch and three quarter inch.
6. Deep Throat Bar Clamp
Deep throat bar clamps combine the power and stretch of pipe clamps with the deep reach of a C-clamp. Their standard depths are 2 to 4 inches, while clamping capacities range from 6 inches to 80 inches. Realistically, most have 1 to 3 foot clamping capacities. Deep throat bar clamps can be replaced by pipe clamps for most applications.
A good trait to look for in deep throat bar clamps is a zinc finished drawn rail that won’t leave marks on the wood. The best deep throat bar clamps won’t slip while holding the piece in place.
5. Handscrew Clamp
Do it yourselfers usually don’t need a handscrew clamp, but they are indispensable to the professional. The hand screw clamp has been a traditional tool in wood working for years. They have solid jaws made from wood or metal and dual threaded rod handles to let you apply significant pressure. In this regard, they are similar to C-clamps. The jaws of a hand screw clamp can be adjusted to clamp sloping, offset and tapered items, which no other clamp can do.
The jaw length and clamping capacity are closely related in hand screw clamps. A handscrew clamp with a 4-inch jaw length provides 2-inch clamping capacity. A 2-foot jaw length comes with a roughly 18-inch clamping capacity. Many handscrew clamps are capable of handling both delicate jobs and tasks where high pressure is required.
4. One-Handed Bar Clamps
In most clamps require one hand to position the clamp while the other hand tightens it. One handed clamps eliminate this need by having a fixed jaw and a sliding jaw that is controlled by a trigger grip handle. When you squeeze the trigger, the sliding jaw moves along the bar connecting the two clamp ends toward the fixed jaw. If you press the release lever, the pressure unlocks the sliding jaw. Some models let you remove the jaws, reverse them, then use it as a spreader.
One handed does not mean weak. There are one-handed bar clamps that can sustain several hundred pounds of pressure. You pay more money for the more powerful clamps.
One handed bar clamps are available between 6-inch and 4 feet in length, but most models range from 1 to 3 feet in length. For greater distances, you’re better off using a pipe clamp, while distances of less than 12-inch can be handled by C-clamps.
One handed bar clamps are the best bar clamps for people working on multiple or complex projects simultaneously. Quick release C-clamps that act similarly are not considered one handed bar clamps but a type of C-clamp.
3. Spring Clamps
Spring clamps are often called pinch clamps, since they look like and function like over-sized clothes pins. The spring clamp’s two sides are connected by a steel spring, separated by squeezing on the handle. Spring clamps are useful for making small repairs. Some models have rubber pads on the jaws to prevent damage to whatever it holds together. You’ll pay more for the ergonomic designs, while the simpler designs cost a little more than the clothes pins they resemble.
Spring clamps are not the best wood clamps to use when you’re dealing with soft woods like balsa, since they may deform soft wood. A few have padded handles to reduce the strain on the user’s hands.
Spring clamps can act as a third hand while making repairs, painting or gluing items. They apply similar force or more than an equally large C-clamp without sticking out as much.
2. Ratchet-Action Bar Clamps
Ratchet action bar clamps, also called band clamps, are the best woodworking clamps for clamping together oddly shaped items. Ratchet action bar clamps use a long, flexible strap – also called a band – to secure the workpiece. The band is fitted using a ratcheting mechanism. It then remains in that position until you release the band. This is in contrast to non-ratcheting clamps that take as much time and effort to release as they did to install.
Bands range from 1-inch wide to much wider, but few people need something more than 2-inches wide. Fifteen foot long bands are adequate for most people. The price goes up along with the band length.
One benefit of these for smaller applications is that they won’t mar wood and soft materials as long as they aren’t too tight.
1. Miter Clamps
Miter clamps are used to hold two pieces at a precise right angle. The miter clamp is made so that you simply have to slide in each element and tighten the screw thread handles to hold them in place. Most wood workers only need one miter clamp, if at all, for tasks like assembling picture frames and moldings. They can be used to assemble right-angle butt joints or T-shaped joints. Miter clamps are often sold along with miter spring pliers to hold the item together after you remove the clamp itself.
C-clamps are the most basic and readily available clamps used in woodworking. Pipe clamps hold together large and small items with great force. Deep throat bar clamps combine power with reach. Handscrew clamps handle the odd angles and joints no other clamp can. The best one handed bar clamps double as spreaders. Spring clamps are the wood-worker’s alternative to clothes-pins, holding sheets of wood or edging in place while you work. The best ratchet action bar clamps can also hold small, delicate items together without marring them.
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