29 Types of Clamps and How to Choose

clamp on wood

Piotr Wytrazek / Getty Images

As DIYers, we've all got something we picture when we think of a clamp. In reality, there are dozens of types of clamps, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Some clamps are great for complex woodworking tasks such as panel joinery while others simply serve as an extra set of hands in the workshop.

Clamps are extremely versatile tools with an endless list of applications. In fact, you'll likely never stop discovering new uses for your clamps. To help you get familiar with each variety, here are 29 types of clamps that every DIYer should know.

What Is a Clamp?

A clamp is a device used to constrict, bind, or otherwise press together an object or workpiece.

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    Two c-clamps

    Robert Lowdon / Getty Images

    Best for: General woodworking, automotive repair

    A C-clamp, named for its "C" shape, is one of the most basic clamp styles. C-clamps consist of a C-shaped frame with a fixed jaw and a single-threaded screw for tightening against flat surfaces.

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    Extended Throat C-Clamp

    Extended c-clamp

    PhotoSouth / Getty Images

    Best for: Woodworking, face gluing boards, automotive

    An extended throat C-clamp is a c-clamp with extra-long jaws, which allows it to apply clamping pressure furthered toward the center of a workpiece.

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    Two f-clamps

    Aonip / Getty Images

    Best for: Wood joinery, face gluing boards, holding workpieces

    Like the C-clamp, the F-clamp is named for its resemblance to a letter. Rather than being held by a fixed, C-shaped frame, the threaded screw is held by a sliding member that rides along a straight portion in the frame. This allows the jaws to expand and hold much more material than a C-clamp is capable of. F-clamps often have large throats, which allows them to clamp further toward the center of larger materials.

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    Clutch Clamp

    Clutch clamp

    Yevgen Romanenko / Getty Images

    Best for: Wood joinery, face gluing boards, holding workpieces

    Similar in design to the F-clamp, a clutch clamp utilizes a clutch to lock the jaws in place. Engaging the clutch with your thumb releases the jaw's hold on the bar, which allows you to loosen the clamp with one hand. The weakness of both F-clamps and clutch clamps is the tendency for the straight bar to bow as pressure is applied, which can compromise precision wood joinery.

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    Parallel Clamp

    Best for: Wood joinery, panel gluing, large workpieces

    As an answer to the bowing issue found in F-clamps and clutch clamps, parallel clamps feature a strong bar with two parallel clamping surfaces that create full contact with the workpiece. The two clamping surfaces are designed to stay parallel with one another as pressure is applied, which aids in maintaining straight glue-ups.

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    Pipe Clamp

    Pipe clamp on a white background

    Westbahnhof / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0 CA

    Best for: Wood joinery, panel gluing, large workpieces

    A pipe clamp consists of two clamp ends mounted on a custom-cut section of galvanized or black steel pipe. One end screws to the threaded end, while the other slides along the pipe and locks into place. The design of a pipe clamp gives it similar advantages in joinery to the parallel clamp, with the added ability to customize the length of the clamp by utilizing a larger pipe section. Additionally, pipe clamps are much easier on the wallet.

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    Trigger Clamp

    A trigger bar clamp or quick clamp used to clamp wood models and dolls house furniture.

    The Spruce / Lesley Shepherd

    Best for: Wood joinery, face gluing boards, holding workpieces, one-handed operation

    With one fixed jaw and one sliding jaw, the trigger clamp is similar in design and function to an F-clamp but is modified for one-handed operation. This is due to the trigger mechanism which incrementally applies pressure by sliding the moving jaw toward the fixed jaw.

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    Spring Hand Clamp

    Closeup of a spring hand clamp

    Light Capturing / Getty Images

    Best for: Holding workpieces and materials

    Spring hand clamps are clamps that apply pressure with a spring located at the hinge point, much like a chip clip. These handy clamps come in all shapes and sizes, as well as a variety of materials for different uses and strengths.

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    Ratcheting Hand Clamp

    Closeup of a ratchet clamp

    The Spruce

    Best for: Holding workpieces

    Ratcheting hand clamps are similar to spring hand clamps but, instead of a spring, a ratcheting mechanism is used to apply pressure incrementally.

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    Bandy Clamps

    Best for: Woodworking, gluing edge banding

    Bandy clamps are spring clamps with the addition of a band that spans the two jaws. This band allows the clamp to apply force toward the workpiece when positioned on the edge.

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    Gripping Edge Clamp

    Best for: Woodworking, gluing edge banding

    A gripping edge clamp features two spring-loaded cams coated in rubber used to lock against a workpiece. Between the two cams is a threaded screw with a pivoting head that's used to apply pressure against the edge of the workpiece. The cams and pivoting head apply opposite pressure, which holds the clamp tightly in place.

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    Dual-Spindle Edge Clamps

    Best for: Woodworking, gluing edge banding

    A dual-spindle edge clamp is a type of specialty clamp that can be paired with an F-clamp to clamp the edge of a workpiece. To do so, the user places the F-clamp on the workpiece with one jaw on top and one on the bottom. The dual-spindle edge clamp is then placed between the F-clamp and the workpiece, where it uses a notch in its frame to apply pressure against the bar of the F-clamp.

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    C-Clamp Edge Clamp

    Best for: Woodworking, gluing edge banding

    A C-clamp edge clamp has a similar use as the dual-spindle edge clamp but doesn't require an F-clamp to operate. Instead, it uses the jaws of the C-clamp to hold it to the surface and features a perpendicular screw and pivoting jaw to apply pressure toward the edge of the workpiece.

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    Hose Clamps

    Best for: Pipe fittings, water hoses, automotive repairs

    A hose clamp is a metal strap with a screw that is used to tighten the strap around an object such as a pipe fitting or water hose. Hose clamps come in a wide array of sizes and can handle many different applications.

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    Strap Clamps

    Best for: Wood joinery, furniture making, irregular workpieces

    Strap clamps use a cloth strap to tighten around irregularly shaped objects. This strap can often be fitted with adjustable plastic pieces which are used to protect the corners of the workpiece.

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    Wooden Hand-Screw Clamps

    Best for: Wood joinery, furniture making

    Wooden hand-screw clamps are one of the most traditional varieties of clamps. These use two identical wood jaws connected by two opposing threaded screws. The wooden construction is beneficial for protecting the surface of the workpiece.

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    Locking Plier Clamp

    Best for: Holding workpieces

    Locking plier clamps are nothing more than locking pliers with larger throat and flat clamping surfaces rather than standard plier jaws. These are great for quick, temporary holds.

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    Corner Clamp

    Closeup of corner clamp on white

    MD ISAHAQUE ALI / Getty Images

    Best for: Wood joinery, box building, frame building

    A corner clamp is designed to sit inside a 90-degree joint while applying pressure on the outside of the joint with threaded screws fitted with pivoting heads. This custom shape allows the clamp to hold perfect 90-degree angles, which is of great value when building boxes and frames.

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    Self-Squaring Frame Clamp

    Best for: Wood joinery, frame construction, box construction

    A self-squaring frame clamp consists of two V-shaped bars connected in the middle by a threaded screw. On each bar are two sliding 90-degree brackets. A square workpiece such as a picture frame is set on top of the two Vs with a bracket placed on each corner. A threaded screw can then be tightened to pull the V's together, clamping the corners and squaring the piece in the process.

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    Toggle Clamp

    Best for: Holding workpieces to work surfaces

    A toggle clamp is a clamp that is mounted to a work surface to hold materials in place. The clamp features one jaw that applies pressure against the top of a workpiece, holding it tightly to the work surface.

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    Fence Clamp

    Best for: Holding workpieces to tool fences

    Like a toggle clamp, a fence clamp is also used to hold a workpiece steady. However, rather than a workbench, a fence clamp is mounted to a tool with a fence, such as a table saw or miter saw. While there are many applications for fence clamps, these are often used to position stop blocks for quickly duplicating cuts.

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    Drill Press Clamp

    Best for: Holding material on a drill press

    Drill press clamps or drill press vises are designed to hold a workpiece steady on a drill press, which promotes more precise drilling. The drill press clamp is mounted to the drill press and can be quickly adjusted to hold the material in whatever position is needed.

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    Spring Miter Clamp

    Best for: Holding mitered joints together, frame construction, box construction

    A spring miter clamp is a shaped piece of spring steel that uses spring tension to hold two workpieces together while boasting a minimal footprint. The clamp is stretched using special pliers and placed onto the outside of a miter, where its sharpened tips bite the wood.

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    Locking Chain Clamp

    Best for: Grabbing irregular workpieces, twisting smooth pipes

    A locking chain clamp looks like a set of locking pliers with a looped chain instead of jaws. This chain can tightly lock around materials with irregular shapes as well as smooth surfaces like round pipes.

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    Straight-Edge Clamp

    Best for: Woodworking, carpentry

    A straight-edge clamp is a long, perfectly straight tool that clamps to a workpiece, creating a straight edge for a saw or ride against. This handy clamp allows a standard circular saw to operate like a track saw.

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    Table Clamp

    Best for: Welding, soldering, mounting tools

    Table clamps are small, flat C-clamps used for holding items to a table or workstation. They're used for everything from holding material for welding to mounting monitors to a desk.

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    Bench Vise

    Closeup of a bench vise clamp

    Manuel Faba Ortega / Getty Images

    Best for: Holding workpieces, automotive

    A bench vise is a strong clamp mounted to a work surface such as a workbench. A vise features two parallel jaws, one fixed and the other sliding, and is operated by a threaded screw with a long lever for extra tightening power.

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    Cabinet Face Clamp

    Best for: Mounting cabinetry

    A cabinet face clamp utilizes two perpendicular threaded screws to adjust cabinets for mounting. A sliding jaw pulls the cabinets tightly together while a non-marring head applies pressure to the cabinet faces and aligns them. Many cabinet face clamps feature holes for drilling pilot holes directly through the clamp.

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    Flooring Clamp

    Best for: Installing flooring

    Flooring clamps feature two independent jaws connected by a strap which are used for tightly installing tongue-and-groove flooring. One jaw is positioned on a mounted flooring piece, while the other is placed on a piece to be mounted. As the strap is tightened, the new piece firmly seats in the fixed piece, freeing the user's hands up for driving fasteners.