It's easy to overlook the importance of woodworking clamps when preparing for a project. Many people assume that any old clamp will do. As long as it will mash down on the wood, that is all that is needed, right? The truth is that good woodworking clamps can make the difference between a decent, finished product and a great one. They can also make the woodworking experience more painless since proper tools make the job easier.
There are many different types of woodworking clamps, and it's... easy to get confused on the types you should buy for a project. Each clamp is meant for a different purpose. While they all should clamp down, some can tackle thicker woods. Others are good for quick applications when you need to briefly hold something down. Even more are specialized like corner clamps, so the most important thing to consider is the project you have to complete.
To help you see which woodworking clamps are best for your project, here’s a list of the top clamps you can buy today.
For any typical woodworking project, you will find plenty of uses for clamps. Normally, clamps come in handy for gluing, nailing, or other joining steps that bring two or more pieces of wood together. For these purposes, having a few general purpose clamps around like the Bessey LM2.004 LM makes the work quicker and easier.
The LM2 is a 4” adjustable bar clamp that should be in reach any time you are working with wood. The large span makes it a perfect tool for projects like wood laminating where... you have to apply a lot of force to many layers at once. The clamp is light and easy to hold with the ergonomic wooden grip, which is why this is a top choice selection.
Shopping for woodworking clamps will require you to figure out how many clamps you need to buy. Most projects will rarely be finished with just one. To save some money, clamp kits are a great value. The Irwin QUICK-GRIP Clamp Set will give you an assortment of eight mini clamps you can use right away.
The set comes with six one-handed bar clamps and two handi clamps. The mini clamps use a pistol grip design, so you can hold down wood with one hand while applying the clamp with the other. The size... of these clamps is also ideal for smaller projects when space is an issue. The mini clamps come in different sizes, so there should be enough to use in a variety of projects.
The H-style clamp is the tool of choice for many projects that have small pieces to clamp together. The Bessey BPC-H34 includes a large span to fit thick pieces and large rubber pads at each end to protect the wood.
The base of the clamp will keep it stable as you work with smaller handheld pieces. With a clamp like this, you can work with short pieces of wood or pipe when you have to join more pieces together than you have hands for. The zinc components offer a tough build so you can clamp down... with more pressure and less worry.
Ratchet clamps are great for quickly setting and securing a clamp while working. The ratchet mechanism allows you to set the clamp force with an extra degree of precision with the assurance that the clamp will stay together. The TEKTON Mini takes the top spot for ratchet clamps since its 6” bar clamp makes it suitable for large and small projects alike.
The Mini also comes with a quick release mechanism, making it one of the quickest clamps to set up and take down as you need. Simply press down... on the trigger as you close the jaw for a smooth movement, then release when you have the desired force. Press the quick release button to undo your work when finished.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
Heavy duty spring clamps are the tool of choice for projects where you need extra hands to hold everything together. Spring clamps will rarely give you the necessary force for gluing projects, but they are great for temporarily holding pieces together as you work. The Evelots 18 Piece Heavy Duty set is the top choice when you need a lot of extra hands.
The set comes with an astounding 18 heavy duty clamps: 12 small and 6 large clamps round out the selection with a jaw space of 1-2 inches. These... are multipurpose clamps, so consider them if you have projects that don't involve wood. Painting, crafting with fabrics, and mechanical work are all great candidates.
Woodworking projects can get complicated as you start to work with more and more pieces. A good single handed clamp can make the task easier since you don't have to give up your grip to hold a clamp down. Irwin’s QUICK-GRIPOne is specially designed for this kind of easy use. Coming in a pack of four, each clamp is light, but strong enough to provide 140 pounds of force.
The clamp’s one handed operation relies on the pistol grip design. Pressing down on the trigger lets you adjust the bars.... The entire clamp is made of hardened resin and steel which can take a good amount of abuse. If you have a project with a lot of pieces or complexity, this clamp set is a good one to consider.
A clutch-style clamp works by moving one end of the jaw along a rail. Usually, the moving end is held down by friction using metal plates, so they can be limited in the amount of force you can apply. What makes them special then? The 24 inches of space between the Bessey’s GSCC2.524 clamp ends should give you an idea.
When the wood is extremely thick, a clutch clamp is the way to go. The GSCC2 gives you nearly four times the clamping space compared to other options. Despite the clutch design, it... is also strong enough to give you up to 600 pounds of clamping force, making this one an absolute must for large projects.
Special application clamps are rare since most general woodworking clamps are meant to be used in many types of projects. One area they fall short, however, is corner joining. For projects like small framing, furniture construction, or doweling, a corner clamp like the MLCS 9001 Can-Do is required.
The Can-Do works as a jig where you can fit two wooden pieces together precisely. The sliding T-handle adjusts to apply force directly on the corner so you can reliably glue and hold the pieces... together as it dries. You can also mount the clamp to a work table for extra stability. The setup is quick and easy to use, so consider the Can-Do for special projects.
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