Best Woodworking Clamps 2018 - Full Buying Guide, Top 3 Clamps

Best Woodworking Clamps 2018 – Full Buying Guide

Best Woodworking Clamps

You'll find a selection of clamps in every woodworkers workshop.

In fact, you'll often see an entire section of the workshop dedicated to housing clamps of all shapes and sizes.

The reason for this is simple - Clamps are very useful, and used in almost every woodworking project.

There's a bunch of styles and types for different uses, so it can be hard to decide what's the best woodworking clamps for you to own. Most likely you'll start out with a few, and grow your collection over time.

This article will recommend some of the best woodworking clamps, and explain a bit about the different types, and their uses.


The Best Woodworking Clamps


Uses for Woodworking Clamps

The reason you see woodworkers shops littered with different types of clamps is because they're oh so very useful.

Anytime you need to glue woodworking pieces together, a clamp (or several) is usually the easiest way to hold them tight when the glue sets.

Aside from that they can be used for dry-fitting, holding parts steady when working on them, and more.

Woodworking projects vary a lot in shape and size of course, and there's been all sorts of different woodworking clamps designed to fill different uses with these variations in shape and size.

Edge Gluing

Sometimes one board is just not wide enough for a project. Need an 18” wide board for a project but only have 6” inch wide boards? Well, you grab three boards and edge glue them, using bar clamps to clamp them tight until the glue sets. This is a time-proven method for making “wide” boards and you can do it in your own woodworking wood shop.

Face-to-face Gluing

Sometimes a wood worker needs a chunk of wood that's thicker than what's on the wood rack. Need to make a 3” thick table leg but only have 3/4” thick lumber? Face glue four boards together and you have a chunk of wood that's thick enough.

Dry-fitting Parts Before Assembly

Need to hold the four sides of a blanket chest together while marking and later drilling screw holes? Once again, clamps come to the rescue. Hey, a guy only has two hands and there's four sides, so clamps are necessary, unless you have more than 4 hands.

And if you're ever considering NOT dry-fitting, just remember this story. The lesson here is this: always dry-fit.

Holding Parts When Machining

Many times a woodworker needs to safely hold parts when drilling, sanding, etc. Some clamps excel in such tasks. Better to safely hold a piece of wood with a clamp than to have it spin in one's hand when a drill grabs it.


What To Consider When Buying Woodworking Clamps

Picking woodworking clamps doesn't have to be confusing, even with the many options to choose from. It's a matter of know what you need to do and what clamp will do the job for you.

To help facilitate your choosing the right woodworking clamp, we're going to breakdown what to look for choosing your clamps.

Woodworking Clamp Features To Consider

Although they come in many different types and sizes, woodworking clamps are generally pretty simple contraptions.

With that in mind, there aren't that many actual physical features to be considered when choose which clamps are right for you.

Aside from knowing the right type of clamp for the job (which we'll discuss in just a moment), you just need to consider the materials  a clamp is made from, and the handle.

Materials

Clamps are not as glorious as hammers or chisels, so there's not as much to look for in quality other than the materials that they are made of.

Many F-clamps are made of plastic. The right plastic will last for years. Hard brittle plastic tends to crack, so look for a more flexible softer plastic.

Metal parts aren't going to take a pounding, so the don't have to be of the same hardness as chisels, but you do want to look for cracks and such that might have slipped through the quality control inspections.

Wooden parts, such as in hand screw clamps, should be of a hardwood, similar to oak or maple. If you can't determine the species, simply try to scratch the wood with a finger nail. If you can't pass that clamp on by and look for one that doesn't scratch so easily. That clamp will serve you longer than it's softer counter part.

Handle

Clamp handles can be made of wood, plastic, or metal. All should hold up well for years. Check wood handles for cracks when buying.

As always, the handle should be comfortable to use. Ergonomic handles on any sort of tool are almost always a huge benefit.

You might also want to checkout this great video guide to woodworking clamps:


The Right Clamp For The Right Job

In buying woodworking clamps, there are things to consider. If you're going to edge glue boards you'll need bar or pipe clamps. You're going to need something to reach across a number of boards and hold them flat while they are gluing up. Bar or pipe clamps also come in handy when assembling projects such as boxes and cabinets.

One can face clamp with bar clamps, but it's cumbersome to do so. Hand screw clamps or F-clamps will reach into the middle of the boards, thus reducing the number of clamps to hold the pieces together. A neat characteristic of these clamps is the ability to clamp non-parallel surfaces.

Bar or Pipe Clamps

Bar or Pipe Clamps are THE best clamp for edge clamping boards when edge gluing. They can be bought in many lengths, allowing the woodworker to glue up wide boards. Bar clamps are limited by the bar that is part of their construction, so a woodworker might need quite a selection.

Pipe clamps are basically clamps that are made by purchasing the clamp pieces and affixing them to pieces of pipe to make the clamp. By buying pipe clamp parts and various lengths of threaded pipe, the wood worker can amass quite a collection of varied length clamps since the pipes can be interchanged into the clamp parts. A 10” piece of pipe will yield a clamping dimension of about 6” inches. A 36” piece of pipe will provide a clamping length of about 32”.

F-Clamps

F-clamps are similar to bar clamps in that they use a bar as the main body of the clamp. They are different in that they don't clamp close to the bar, as do bar or pipe clamps. Instead f-clamps clamping fixtures extend 2 or so inches from the bar. This allows reaching further than bar clamps can.

F-clamps are not only great for clamping wood while gluing, but also for clamping wood to the bench to hold it while sanding or carving. They are also great for clamping router tables and belt sanders to work benches, allowing for both hands to handle the work piece and not the machine.

F-clamps can also be used to edge glue boards, if the bars are long enough. They are a VERY versatile clamp and come with screw clamp and ratchet actuating systems.

Hand Screw Clamps

Hand screw clamps are much different than bar/pipe clamps and F-clamps, in that these clamps are comprised of two bulky pieces of wood connected by two wood-handled screws. Hand screw clamps are commonly used for clamping work to work benches, as wells as face gluing pieces.

Hand screw clamps are not the clamp of choice for edge gluing boards, due to their limited opening capacity, but they have great reach.


3 Best Woodworking Clamps

Jorgensen 7272 72 I-Bar Clamp

Jorgensen's I-bar clamps are heavy duty clamps that are designed for edge gluing boards into panels. The steel I-bars are extremely strong and resistant to bending and twisting. These clamps are available in a variety of lengths, but the clamp reach is only about 1 1/2” so they won't be as versatile as other clamps. The quick adjusting tail clamp provides for rapid set ups.

PRICE

The Jorgensen l-bar clamp can be a little more costly than the other two in the selection but the sturdy nature and heavy-duty usage make up for it. 

CLAMPING MECHANISM

These clamps are quick adjusting with the final force provide by the screw clamp. One can quickly open or close these clamps as necessary and then rest assured that good clamping force will be provided by the screw mechanism.

BAR

The backbone of these clamps are the heavy steel I-bars. The combination of the bar and the quick adjusting mechanism make for quick glue ups. These heavy-duty clamps should last a wood worker's life time.

CONCLUSION

These are heavy clamps that are available in multiple lengths, these clamps will provide for many clamping options. They shine when edge gluing stock for larger panels. The only limitation is there ability to only reach about 1 1/2” inches into a board, so they are not the best for clamping wood to work benches.

Bessey GSCC2.524 2.5-Inch x 24-Inch Economy Clutch Style Bar Clamp

Bessy economy clutch style bar clamps are medium duty clamps that are suitable for a wide variety of woodworking project. The clutch plate system on the tail end of the clamp allows for quick adjustments. Protective pads are included to cushion the clamping jaws, preventing marring the stock.

PRICE

Bessey F-style clamps are reasonably priced and a good choice for the new wood worker. The cost will vary depending upon the length purchased. It pays to buy longer clamps than necessary, as you never know when you're going to need a longer clamp.

CLAMPING MECHANISM

These clamps are quick adjusting with the final force provide by the screw clamp. One can quickly open or close these clamps as necessary and then rest assured that good clamping force will be provided by the screw mechanism.

BAR

The backbone of these clamps is the flat steel bar. The combination of the bar and the quick adjusting mechanism make these clamps a great fit for any woodworker's shop. Rest assured that these clamps will do the job with their stout “back bones.”

CONCLUSION

These are a great first addition to any woodworking shop. Available in multiple lengths, these clamps will provide for many clamping options. They shine in their versatility. The only limitation is there ability to only reach about 1 1/2” inches, so they don't serve as well for clamping wood to work benches.

Grizzly G8066 12-Inch Hand Screw

Grissly hand screw clamps are another great addition to any woodworking shop. Although designed for clamping parts together, these clamps also serve well to hold small parts when drilling and routing, thus keeping the woodworker's hands safe. These clamps can also be adjusted to an infinite number angles.

PRICE

Grizzly's hand screw clamps are reasonably priced, with the price based upon the size of the clamp. These clamps are definitely within reach of the new woodworker, looking to outfit his shop.

CLAMPING MECHANISM

Hand screw clamps use two parallel screws, with handles mounted on opposite sides. These clamps are adjusted by cranking them with both hands to adjust the opening. Final adjusting is done by twisting one, or both, handles.

BAR

Hand screw clamps don't actually have a bar like the other two clamps discussed, but instead use two wooden “jaws” that act as the bar or back bone of the clamp. These clamps have deep throats, so they can reach far into boards, or a workbench. Being made of wood, these clamps can crack if over tightened. This can be prevented by only using one's hands to set the clamping pressure.

CONCLUSION

Hand screw clamps do not lend themselves to gluing up panels, but they sure shine when it comes to holding parts for machining and clamping odd or thick projects. Not necessarily the first choice in woodworking clamps, these clamps fill a void that other clamps cannot.

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Best Woodworking Clamps 2018 - Full Buying Guide, Top 3 Clamps
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Best Woodworking Clamps 2018 - Full Buying Guide, Top 3 Clamps
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What to consider when buying, different types, and reviews of the best clamps. Everything you need to know before choosing the best woodworking clamps.
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Woodworkboss.com
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