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A well-equipped store can have a wide range of clamps for various conditions. Here’s our favorites.

I believe that you just’ve in all probability heard the saying that “a woodworker can never have too many clamps.” Heck, you could have even used that as an excuse (or affirmation) about shopping for extra clamps. I received’t inform. However, I really feel as if a greater saying can be “a woodworker can never have too many of the right clamps.” What I imply by that’s a whole store filled with clamps received’t do any good in the event that they don’t work for the duty at hand. 

Now, I do know that clamps aren’t the good factor on the planet. They’re not a horny, boutique handplane, fancy chisel, or the newest and biggest desk noticed. However, I believe they are typically one of many final issues individuals take into consideration whereas shopping for instruments. You can be shocked by the variety of retailers I stroll into filled with the most recent instruments, solely to discover a hodge-podge of clamps with little thought given to their use or place within the store ecosystem.

Don’t get me incorrect, although. If you discover a field of clamps at a storage sale, and it’s essential have some type of consent to get clamps, I provide you with my full blessing to purchase as many as you possibly can match at the back of your pinto. However, a few of us work with restricted store house and storage for clamps. In this case, I’ve discovered that being strategic with clamp purchases and ensuring that you’ve got the correct mix in your store will alleviate some complications as you’re engaged on a mission, and on the brink of glue up. 

I’m going to level out that these clamps are specific clamps and types that I like to make use of, and also you may discover helpful. I do know clamps could be costly, and a few persons are followers of shopping for mass portions of low-cost, low cost retailer clamps. That’s completely high quality and acceptable. However, these are the types that I like and what I want to maintain available.

F-Style Clamps

If I’m in my store and somebody asks me for a clamp, my first intuition is to seize an F-style clamp. This type of clamp is without doubt one of the most versatile clamps which you could have round, for my part. Not solely are you able to apply an amazing quantity of pressure, relying on the type, however they’re additionally accessible in a ridiculous quantity of sizes.

One of my favourite sizes to maintain available is the mini F-style (the Semble model is proven right here — decrease left within the photograph). These are my go-to for clamping on cease blocks on the router desk, desk noticed, and miter noticed. With a 2 depth, in addition they work nicely for clamping collectively plywood if you find yourself laminating sheets collectively.

For common clamping duties, a 4 clamping depth is about good. I preserve a wide range of bar lengths round, starting from 8-24. Depending on the dimensions, these ship about 800 lbs of clamping pressure and are the right solution to apply exact clamping stress. Not solely do these work for clamping elements collectively throughout glue-up, however I’ll typically use them to carry moveable instruments to the bench (decrease proper photograph). Generally, the longer the bar on F-style clamps, the extra they are going to flex throughout use.

I’m not terribly choosy in regards to the model of those clamps, so long as they’re high quality. I’ve discovered that Bessey and Semble are two of the very best, for my part. I don’t actually take care of the type that makes use of a spring set off on the pinnacle. The Bessey and Semble use a cam-type motion to lock the pinnacle on the bar. I’ve by no means had certainly one of these slip or “go bad”, whereas I’ve had a number of older “trigger” types that can begin to slip. At that time, it’s time they hit the rubbish. These are typically my go-to clamps for many issues.

I-Beam Clamps

I do know that many woodworkers like to make use of pipe clamps. I, nonetheless, don’t like them. I’ve discovered that gluing up a panel with pipe clamps will nearly all the time yield black marks throughout my workpiece. That mixed with the heads all the time spinning and twisting round, and my palms ending up black—that’s a nope from me. 

Instead, for my panel glue-ups, or longer clamping wants, I take advantage of the Bessey I-beam clamps. I just like the heft of them, and the lead screws on the heads are fast to regulate and apply nice stress. When it involves doing a panel glue-up, corresponding to this mahogany prime, the clamps sit properly on a bench, and I can get greater than sufficient clamping stress. While I do additionally like utilizing the aluminum-style bar clamps (corresponding to those from Dubuque Clamp Works), I really feel like these I-beams have a slight edge in use. The bars don’t bend just like the aluminum ones, because the heads are barely deeper. 

Big bar clamps like these begin to add up rapidly as you purchase them, so I attempt to not go too loopy right here. Three clamps are normally good when gluing up a panel, however including an additional clamp in there may be not a nasty concept, particularly for those who prefer to alternate instructions of your clamps as you’re gluing up a panel. 


Now right here’s a clamp that I really feel like is the black sheep in most retailers. If there’s a clamp that doesn’t get enough love, it’s a handscrew. These clamps are fairly simple to seek out in flea markets and storage gross sales, however Jorgensen and others nonetheless make them new. 

I received’t classify handscrews as a workpiece clamp, per se. Instead, I take advantage of handscrews as an additional hand in most situations. They’re nice at holding massive plywood panels on edge whereas engaged on meeting (prime photograph, under). You may even maintain the handscrew to the bench with one other clamp. Because the handscrew is a wooden clamp, it’s simple to change the ends of the handscrew for specialty duties. I’ve a number of totally different handscrews that I’ve notched the jaws or drilled holes in for holding spherical elements. As you see within the decrease photograph, you possibly can simply maintain spherical elements on the drill press or bandsaw whereas holding your palms out of the best way. If you add a number of of those cheap clamps to your store, I believe you’ll come to understand them. 

Parallel Clamps

If the I-beam clamps are my panel glue-up clamp, then I’d label my parallel clamps as my drawer and case clamps. As the identify implies, the huge jaws keep parallel to one another as you apply clamping pressure. These guys are good for clamping up circumstances, drawer bins, and bins… actually something that has the danger of being pulled out of sq. when you’re making use of clamping stress. The huge jaws additionally unfold the stress out extra, in order that they have much less chance of denting your workpiece with extreme clamping stress (I’m responsible of denting elements with each F-style and I-beam clamps). 

The new Semble parallel clamps have rapidly grow to be certainly one of my favorites, as they’ve the distinctive function that enables the deal with to rotate 90° to present you additional torque whereas clamping. This is a function that I admire, particularly as soon as my golfer’s elbow begins to flare up throughout sawmilling season. 

An extra function that’s not often wanted, however appreciated when the necessity does come up, is the power of most parallel clamps to have the clamp head rotated. This means you need to use the clamp as a spreader as an alternative of a clamp. This is useful when it’s essential reverse a glue up while you notice that you just forgot to slide a panel in place (ask me how I do know). 

20″ Deep Reach Clamp

Finally, it is a clamp that there’s no substitute for. While technically, these deep attain clamps from Bessey are an F-style clamp, they’re so specialised, distinctive, and completely helpful that I felt as if they wanted a piece to themselves. These behemoths have the power to achieve far inland on a workpiece and apply clamping stress the place others can’t. I discover them significantly helpful when engaged on a panel lamination, corresponding to laminating inventory collectively for thick panels, or holding a lid to the highest of a case whereas assembling a mission. They additionally work nicely on extra delicate duties, corresponding to clamping runners in place in a deep case.  

These aren’t a clamp that will get used all the time in my store, so a pair of those heifers are about all that I normally want. They are heavy, you will get a ton of stress out of them, however you don’t wish to be lugging them all around the store. These clamps can be found in depths of 10, 12, and 20 (all with 24-length bars), nonetheless, I really feel as if for those who’re going to get a deep attain clamp, you may as nicely simply get the deepest attain one accessible. 

Product Recommendations

Here are some provides and instruments we discover important in our on a regular basis work across the store. We might obtain a fee from gross sales referred by our hyperlinks; nonetheless, now we have rigorously chosen these merchandise for his or her usefulness and high quality.

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