Newbie woodworkers often ask me about the types of clamps that they need to have in their workshops. Based on my experience and research, my answer is relatively straightforward—There will not be a single clamp that can do it all! Yet, I would also tell them that having the right ones at hand and learning how to use them matter a lot.
As a tip, if you want to zero in on the right clamps, you need to consider the variables like desired clamping pressure, workpiece size, and joint angle. Nevertheless, the more clamps you have, the better! So, it will help if you know the different types of clamps and their functions so that you can buy as many clamps as you can.
Different Types of Clamps and Their Usage
Clamps vary in style and design, and there are myriad types of clamps from which you can choose. So, if you are still desirous of knowing the best clamps to use in your workshop, you can check out the following different types of clamps for woodworking:
The bar clamps consist of a long metal bar that holds two parallel jaws. This extensive bar lets its user clamp wide and long workpieces without a hitch. Bar clamps are heavy-duty and work well when clamping large workpieces.
Bar clamps also come in different varieties. You can find T-bar clamps, pipe clamps, and sash clamps. Yet, if you are fond of DIY tools, you can find clamp heads that let you build your bar clamp. Of course, DIY bar clamps are less expensive and are excellent alternatives to buying ready-made and brand new bar clamps.
Rachet-action Bar Clamps
You can use the rachet-action bar clamps to clamp irregularly shaped wood items. These clamps come with a metal strap in a loop form. Moreover, you can adjust the loop’s diameter to secure the material in place. These clamps hold materials by applying pressure on the object.
It’s most suitable for clamping softwood. However, you have to be very careful with the pressure when tightening the rachet-action bar clamp to avoid the possibility of damaging the softwood.
Trigger-activated Bar Clamp
You can use this clamp conveniently, and you can tighten this clamp using one hand. This clamp is definitely a “go-to” clamp because of its great flexibility. Drawing it with one hand, you can use your other hand to hold the clamping material. The length of the bar ranges from 6 inches to 50 inches. You can purchase this clamp from your favorite shop. And the 12″ trigger-activated bar clamp is the most common clamp you can find in any DIY and small woodworking workshop.
It will help if you have this clamp in your shop, for this is a “must-have” clamp. This camp comes in different lengths, and it works well with extensive material. The jaws of this clamp stay fixed at 90-degree relative to the bar. This design helps in assembling perfect squares. Moreover, this clamp is characterized by strong grip strength. Some models of parallel-jaw clamps can also provide a holding pressure of up to 1,000 pounds.
This ideal clamp can help you deal with large glue-ups, including those of tabletops and doors. You can buy the pipe clamp’s jaws and complement them with the 3/4 black pipe of various lengths. You can also buy jaws that work well with a 1/2-inch pipe. However, it will help to know that the smaller-diameter pipe would quickly bend when used, especially over lengthy materials. Hence, it will help if you join two pipes using a coupler to create long clamps.
The cheapest clamp that you can own is the pipe clamp. You can buy its jaws separately. Moreover, you can buy a pipe at whatever length. The jaws can fit 1/2″ and 3/4 black pipes. Additionally, you can buy these pipes from home centers, hardware stores, and lumberyards. These pipes also come with threads on their ends.
Deep Throat Bar Clamp
The deep throat bar clamps have the pipe clamp’s power and the deep reach of the C-clamp. It is capable of standard depths of 2 to 4 inches. Moreover, its clamping capacities range from 6″ to 80″. Most deep throat bar clamps come with a 1 to 3 feet capacities. Nevertheless, the deep throat bar clamps are replaceable by the pipe clamps in most applications.
When buying deep throat bar clamps, it will help if you choose one with a zinc-finished rail because this type of drawn rail does not leave wood marks. Moreover, the perfect deep throat bar clamps will not flinch when holding a piece.
C-clamp (Carriage Clamp)
The C-clamp features a large and single curved body with a C shape where it gets its name. Its screw passes through the C’s one end and terminates at the C’s upper tip. The C-clamp comes with many variations. One example is the three-way edging clamp that comes with 3 adjustable clamping screws. You can use the C-clamp for holding edge pieces during gluing. You can use this clamp for holding wood together.
This clamp is perfect for clamping narrower workpieces, and it can apply more pressure at varied points. Moreover, it is ideal for gluing curved laminations. Hence, this clamp is often used by boat builders when attaching thin laminations on the curved hulls.
Also referred to as “one-handed clamps,” the quick-release clamps feature a mechanism that lets the user release the workpiece using one quick movement. These clamps are popular nowadays. You can tighten them using a hand by merely pumping their push handle. Besides, they are like the f-clamps with clamp opening capacity that you can vary. Moreover, these clamps come in varied types like the lever clamps, trigger clamps, and spring clamps.
The locking clamp comes with a feature that lets you lock it quickly and release it with a single swift movement. You can do this by flicking its integrated lever. It also comes in square shape and wide jaw opening. It is ideal for clamping awkward and large objects that other clamps fail to take a grip.
The locking clamp’s jaw comes with a perfect design for holding tapered work and irregularly shaped workpieces. Moreover, you can buy different models of locking clamps that come with varied jaw shapes and features.
If you intend to clamp together mitered pieces, you can consider the angle clamp. Its jaws are set at a 90-degree angle to ensure square corners. It can easily clamp shelving joints, drawer corners, and many more, where two adjoining parts intersect at 90 degrees.
The angle clamp is very versatile. It can hold massive workpieces at 90 degrees. Because of this capability, it has many applications. This clamp is a “life-saver” because of its adequate fastening capacity and durability. Moreover, it can clamp materials at an angle. It is also a recommended clamp for creating corner cuts and miter joints.
Another excellent option for clamping mitered pieces is the strap clamp. It can clamp mitered pieces like the sides of a frame of a picture. It may also provide less pressure compared to the corner clamp. Yet, you can use it on clamping odd-shaped pieces aside from clamping at 90 degrees. Moreover, you can use it with frames with four sides.
You can use this clamp for woodworking and heavy-duty tasks. It delivers pressure using parallel jaws. Besides, its handle runs perpendicular to the load, which prevents its twisting when you tighten the clamp.
The Kant-Twist clamp comes with a significant clamping power and deep reach without damaging or smearing the wood. This clamp comes with a special design that prevents jaw twisting that usually happens with other clamps. Moreover, it is easy to use and very light. You can also use it for different types of woodworking projects.
You can use this clamp for holding two pieces at an exact right angle. Its design lets it slide in each element. Then, you can tighten its screw thread handles to clamp the material in place. You will only use one miter clamp for tasks like moldings and assembling frames.
You can use the miter clamps to assemble T-shaped joints and right-angle butt joints. You can also buy miter clamps with miter spring pliers for holding the material after removing the clamp. Moreover, you can purchase miter clamps with complex or simple designs.
The spring clamp is a nice clamp that you can use for easy and quick operation. It is so easy to use and comes in handy whenever you need to apply light pressure. Also called pinch clamp, the spring clamp looks an oversized clothespin. A steel spring connects the two sides of the spring clamp, and you can separate each side by squeezing lightly on the handle. If you need to perform small repairs, you will find the spring clamps very useful.
Spring clamps come in varied designs, and some come with rubber pads on their jaws to prevent damage to the material they hold. You will find simpler designed spring clamps; yet, you will also find ergonomically designed spring clamps that are more expensive.
You may also call these clamps strap clamps. They come with a design that can hold on to irregularly shaped objects like circular or oblong objects. It consists of a strap cloth or metal that forms a loop around the object that needs clamping. It also comes with a mechanism that forcibly pulls the loop and adjusts its diameter. This mechanism exerts a squeezing force around the object inside the loop.
One band clamp type is called the web clamp. This clamp comes with a band made of cloth webbing made of nylon type. This band slip and then stretch around the object to squeeze it forcibly to keep it in place.
The squeezing mechanism applies the needed pressure using a mechanical method. This mechanism may consist of a ratchet or screw mechanism that tightens the band slowly. The elastic nature of the band itself may provide the clamping pressure.
The flooring clamps function together with another surface in order to hold materials. Its design is perfect for layering flooring and setting up wooden, laminated, or panel boards. These clamps come in different types, such as seaming clamps and flooring clamps. Additionally, these clamps help you tighten the floor and panels so that you can push the flooring panels to remove spaces between boards.
You can use the sash clamp when working on large-scale projects like doors, cabinets, tabletops, or even sash windows. You will often need two of these clamps to make sure that you get a firm grip on the materials.
The sash clamp comes with a long flat bar that is quite heavy. It also comes with a fixed jaw connected or attached to it. You can adjust its fixed jaw using a screw. The sash clamp also comes with a movable sliding jaw that you can move along the clamp’s length. Afterward, you can lock this clamp into position to keep the materials in place.
This clamp is perfect for clamping large materials and for allowing you to glue them and let them dry. Moreover, it is the longer and more specialized version of the bar clamp.
Sash clamps feature a heavy flat bar, fixed jaw, and sliding jaw. The sliding jaw is movable along with the clamp so that you can find the desired location and lock it. The fixed jaw, on the other hand, remains stationary and attached to the bar. Yet, you can also adjust its position using a screw. If you’re looking for an excellent clamp for large wood projects, you can always consider these clamps.
The toggle clamps come with only one clamping plate because it usually functions with a worktop like a bench surface for holding the material tight and steady. This clamp comes with a design that permanently affixes itself to the workbench. You will permanently position this clamp because it needs bolting. Nevertheless, you can adjust this clamp to accommodate workpieces of different sizes and shapes.
You will not often use or need a handscrew clamp in your woodworking projects. Yet, if you are a professional woodworker, you will indeed find this clamp useful and indispensable. This clamp is a traditional clamp that has been a staple tool in many traditional shops. It features solid jaws, wrought in metal or wood. It also comes with a dual-threaded rod handles for applying significant pressure.
The handscrew is somewhat like the C-clamps. You can adjust its jaws to let you clamp sloping and tapered items. Because of this capability, it is exceptional as a clamp.
The clamping pressure of the handscrew clamps is closely associated with its jaw length. For example, a handscrew clamp with a 4-inch jaw length can provide a 2-inch clamping capacity. Nevertheless, a 2-foot jaw is capable of delivering an 18-inch clamping capacity. The good thing about many handscrew clamps is that they can handle delicate tasks wherein you need to apply high clamping pressure.
Clamps are essential to woodworking, and you will often need to clamp and tightly secure objects to your workbench to create better workpieces. You will do clamping to prevent the materials you are chiseling, drilling, assembling, or cutting from moving while working on them.
However, if you are a beginner in woodworking, you will get confused about the myriad types of clamps. But if you carefully read through this article, you will know and distinguish the different variations of clamps, their uses, and their importance. With this additional knowledge, you can easily zero in on the right clamps for your clamping needs.