Clamps, clamps and more clamps

A woodworker can never have too many clamps. It sounds like an overused cliché but it is a truth derived from experience and practice. Why? Because there is hardly any job in woodworking that does not require some parts to be held together or to be affixed to something for cutting or finishing.

C-clamps are ubiquitous not only in woodworking but also for metal working applications. We all have seen C-clamps somewhere. They are called C-clamps because of their shape. These clamps are very simple and easy to use for basic clamping jobs. The size of the ‘C’ limits the usable range of adjustment.

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Bar clamps are the next step up in the hierarchy of wood working tools.  These versatile clamps are also called F-bar clamps because their fixed jaw and the adjustable, gliding jaw form an F-shape. Six and 12 inch are the most common sizes. They come up to 30 inches long. The longest bar clamps can have issues with stability under pressure.

A better solution are Pipe clamps. They are great to glue wide furniture pieces together, such as bookcases, cabinets, and wide drawers. These clamps attach to standard plumbing pipes sold in hardware stores. Therefore, you can get them in any length your projects require. Use black pipes, not the galvanized kind. Pipe clamps are very stable, strong, affordable and relatively easy to use. On long pieces, they are often used in combination with C-clamps that hold the end of a block.

No set of wood working tools would be complete with a few quick-grip clamps. These clamps look somewhat like a variation on pipe clamps. Quick-grip clamps leave one of your hands free. However, they are tricky to adjust precisely with only one hand. It is questionable whether they actually are an improvement over regular parallel clamps.