Woodworking clamps apply pressure to hold pieces of wood together temporarily. Says Carl Lewis, qualified joiner and owner of DIY website thediyfix.com, “Clamps are extremely useful. They are perfect for holding timber in place while cutting or ripping down the length with a circular saw. They are also extremely useful for holding wooden pieces together as glue or other adhesives dry.”
We researched the best woodworking clamps available online, evaluating ease of use, quality, sturdiness, and overall value. Our top choice, the BESSEY Clutch Style Bar Clamp with Composite Plastic Handle, stands out for its ergonomic design, versatility, and durability.
Here are the best woodworking clamps.
Best Overall: BESSEY 36-Inch Clutch-Style Bar Clamp
Superior clamping power
What do buyers say? 200+ Home Depot reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
A versatile bar clamp like this 36-inch model from BESSEY easily clamps material together. This version offers strength and durability, with strong powder-coated cast-iron jaws tipped with non-marring pads, a nickel-plated bar, and an improved comfort-grip handle. And most importantly, it clamps like a champ. The spring-loaded clutch plate slides along the bar smoothly and easily, and then locks in place right where you want it. Once locked in place, the jaws won't slip, even if you shake, jar, or drop the clamp.
This light-to-moderate duty clamp is 36 inches long and has a 3.5-inch throat, which is the maximum depth of the jaws extending from its bar or frame. It exerts up to 1,100 pounds of clamping pressure, which is more than enough for most DIY projects. The clamp itself weighs 4.5 pounds. It's a must-have for any carpentry or woodworking shop, whether professional or hobbyist.
Best H-Style: BESSEY 3/4-Inch H-Style Pipe Clamp Fixture Set
Sturdy, stable feet
Handful of complaints about clutch slipping
A pair of H-style or pipe clamps offer the ability to secure projects of various sizes, since the clamps themselves fit onto a metal pipe of your choosing. If you need to clamp a large tabletop, long shelves, or other similar projects, simply choose a pipe that is long enough for your purpose, and then slide the pair of H-style clamps onto opposing ends of the pipe. These BESSEY H-style pipe clamps fit any 3/4-inch pipe.
These handy clamps have cast-iron jaws with non-marring, protective tips and an ACME threaded spindle. The clutch-disc design is easy to adjust and holds very securely once locked into place. The clamps have high "feet" that provide lots of clearance and stability. These clamps have a throat depth of 2.13 inches. The clamping force varies depending on how far apart you set the jaws.
Best Trigger: DEWALT 6-Inch Trigger Clamp
Easy one-hand use
Might not slide smoothly when opening
A trigger clamp is a bar clamp with a ratchet system to quickly apply and release pressure, allowing for easier one-handed operation. The DEWALT 6-inch trigger clamp has a strong heat-treated steel bar and reinforced nylon handle for durable, smooth performance. The non-marring tips on the jaws protect your material from scratches and scrapes. This is a light-to-medium duty clamp that's perfect for many projects around your workshop.
The clamp has up to 100 pounds of clamping force, a maximum jaw opening of 6 inches, a 2.43inch throat. It's a great all-purpose clamp that you'll reach for over and over while working with wood or other materials.
Best C-Clamp: IRWIN 6-Inch Quick-Grip C-Clamp
Superior clamping power
Some complaints of misalignment
Our favorite C-clamp is the IRWIN Quick-Grip, which gives you heavy-duty holding power and yet is easy to use. This steel clamp has 1,000 pounds of holding power, a 3.5-inch throat, and maximum opening of 6 inches. The double-rolled bar turns easily, and the large handle reduces fatigue to your hand. so you'll make quick work of closing the clamp securely.
Every woodworker's tool box should have a few of these clamps, which come in handy for holding all sorts of pieces together while glue or other adhesives dry. It is also perfect for holding metal pieces in place while being welded or drilled, or for general-purpose clamping. The large swivel pad helps reduce the risk of damage to the surface of the material being clamped.
Best Face Clamp: Milescraft 3-Inch Face Clamp
Not for very large or heavy materials
The Milescraft 3-inch Face Clamp is a popular option if you need a clamp that is specially intended for use with pocket-hole joinery, which is basically screwing wood pieces together on an angle. It's a technique used frequently when building cabinets or similar pieces. Of course, the clamp can also be used for any other clamping purpose.
This face clamp from Milescraft has round, oversized clamp pads that apply evenly distributed pressure and thumb screws that make it easy to adjust the clamp. The clamp has a 3-inch throat and opens far enough to clamp materials up to 2.75 inches in thickness. It provides up to 300 pounds of clamping force.
Best Clamp/Spreader: Jorgensen E-Z Hold 6-inch Expandable Bar Clamp
Easily converts to spreader
Can link two together for extra length
Few complaints about trigger breaking
A quick clamp offers the convenience of being able to adjust the clamp by squeezing the trigger with one hand. If you’re looking for this convenience without losing strength or integrity, the Jorgenson 6-inch Spreader/Bar Clamp is a great option as a woodworking clamp for light-duty projects. Use these clamps to apply inward and outward pressure, since they’re adjustable to both spreader and clamp configurations.
The quick-release clamp has a throat depth of 2.5 inches along with a maximum opening of 6 inches. It has up to 150 pounds of clamping pressure. However, one unique feature of these Jorgenson clamps is the ability to join two clamps together for more than double the maximum opening width.
Best for Corners: MLCS Can-Do Clamp
Very accurate right angle
A little tricky to use at first
If your woodworking project involves corners or other 90-degree angles, a right-angle clamp is a simple solution to securing any corner. The Can-Do Clamp is especially popular as a woodworking clamp for picture frames or cabinets, and it offers plenty of pressure and stability for your projects. The moveable jaws open wide enough to clamp down on material up to 2.75-inches thick.
The clamp has sturdy, aluminum construction that is very durable. The T-handle is easy to adjust and the movable jaws hold your piece firmly in place from both sides. The clamp also has mounting holes so you can fasten it to your workbench to serve as a vise if desired.
Best Value: WORKPRO 6-Piece Woodworking Bar Clamp Set
Very reasonable price
Easy to use
Only for relatively lightweight clamping
If you only need lightweight clamps for occasional projects, then you'll appreciate what a bargain you get with the WORKPRO Woodworking Bar Clamp Set. There are six clamps in the set: four 6-inch clamps with a 2-3/8-inch throat and two 12-inch clamps with a 3-1/2-inch throat. All of the clamps have steel rails and heavy-duty reinforced nylon handles. Plus, all can convert into a spreader at the press of the red button.
The clamps all provide up to 150 pounds of holding pressure. When used as spreaders, the 6-inch clamps extend up to 11-9/64 inches and the 12-inch clamps extend up to 17-21/64 inches. All of the clamps have a large, anti-skid gripping pad that won't mar the surface of the material being gripped.
If you want a versatile clamp that works for many different types of projects, is large enough to handle even sizable pieces, and has enough clamping power to keep your project firmly in place for as long as you need, then look no further than the BESSEY 36-Inch Clutch-Style Bar Clamp But if you just want to add a few lightweight bar clamps to your collection without spending a bundle, then the WORKPRO 6-Piece Bar Clamp Set is perfect for your needs.
What to Look for in a Woodworking Clamp
No woodworking shop is complete without a wide assortment of clamps in different types and sizes. Just about any carpentry or woodworking project that goes beyond merely hammering a couple of boards together requires the use of a clamp. But while all clamps serve the same basic function—holding two or more pieces together temporarily—there are many different types of these handy tools available, each with a slightly different use or benefit. Below are some of the more common types of clamps you’ll want to consider adding to your workshop.
C-Clamp: Also called a carriage clamp, these basic clamps resemble the letter “C” and come in a range of sizes, although 4, 6, or 8 inches are the most common. These are useful for holding narrow boards or wood pieces together while glue or another adhesive dries.
Bar Clamp: Also called an F-clamp, due to its shape, the bar clamp opens much wider than a C-clamp, allowing you to hold much larger workpieces together. There are bar clamps as small as 6 inches, but most woodworkers find that 24 to 36 inches is the most useful for large projects.
Pipe Clamp: Also called an H-clamp, these are sets of clamp heads that allow you to use them with any length of pipe needed to create a clamp that’s just the right size for your project. These are handy for a wide range of tasks, including holding edging in place while an adhesive dries.
Trigger Clamp: This is basically a bar clamp that has a trigger for quick and easy opening and closing of the clamp, even with just one hand.
Pinch Clamp: Also called a hand or spring clamp, these simple clamps are useful for holding delicate materials together.
Corner Clamp: This is a specialty clamp that’s designed to hold pieces together at a 90-degree angle. It’s a very useful clamp if you are building picture frames, drawers, or similar items.
Face Clamp: These clamps are something like a pinch clamp, but with a square shape and wide pads that clamp securely without marring a delicate surface. They are useful for holding delicate pieces in place for gluing or drilling.
Clamp/Spreader: These are bar clamps, usually trigger-style, that can be reversed to apply outwards pressure to hold pieces in an extended position, as well as used for clamping pieces together.
Clamps come in a wide range of sizes, allowing you to choose which best suits the size of the material you are clamping. There are a few numbers to consider when it comes to size:
- The overall length of the clamp.
- The jaw opening size, which is the maximum distance the jaws can separate. This determines how wide of an object the clamp can hold. Often, it's the same as the overall length, but not always.
- The throat, which is the depth of the clamp, measuring from the frame of the clamp to the tip of its jaw. This measurement determines how far the clamp can reach into the material being held.
Clamping force is a measurement of how much pressure the clamp can exert when fully tightened. Too much pressure may split or damage the wood and too little pressure might prove ineffective for the job. Look for the clamping force in the specifications of any clamp you're considering.
The material that the clamp is made of will determine its durability. There are light-duty clamps made of resin or anodized aluminum, while heavy-duty clamps will typically be made from drop-forged steel or cast iron.
How do I store woodworking clamps?
You want to store woodworking clamps in a location that is accessible and makes it easy to retrieve them when needed. Some of the best options for storage include a drawer in a tool chest or using a pegboard with hooks to hang the clamps when not in use. Pipe clamps could also be stored on shelf brackets.
Keep your brackets away from moisture and temperature extremes to avoid damage.
How many types of clamps are there?
There are at least 30 different types of clamps to offer various methods of applying pressure. The design of the clamp determines its type, while the material, manufacturer, and warranty of the clamp will impact its cost.
How many clamps do I need to use?
You will need to use at least two clamps for most projects, but the specific number of clamps to use will vary based on the size of what you're working on and the PSI required (largely based on the type of wood you're working on).
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Michelle Ullman, the tool expert for The Spruce. She has extensive experience not only in writing about all things related to the home, but also in carrying out various DIY projects, including landscaping, painting, flooring, wallpapering, furniture makeovers, and simple repairs around the house and yard.
For this roundup, she considered dozens of wood clamps, evaluating each for clamping power, durability, ease of use, and value. She also considered feedback from customers, both positive and negative. Carl Lewis, qualified joiner and owner of DIY website thediyfix.com, provided further input.