Synopsis Of Wood Clamps
A wood clamp is a device that has two or more adjustable nails with flat tips that are used to hold pieces of wood together while the glue dries.
Wood clamps are similar to bar clamps but they have flat surfaces for making gentle contact against wooden materials.
Larger wood clamps, like pipe and bar clamps, may also be called ‘pipe’ or ‘bar’ clamps (or vice versa).
There’s no hard rule for this it just depends on who you’re talking to and what he or she thinks is easier to say.
Pipe and bar clamps can be used as wood clamps as well as other types of jobs such as gluing pipes, reinforcement bars, steel, and many other metals.
During the design process of any project, you have to plan out your materials.
Woodworkers need wood, fasteners, and clamps. While there are various types of clamps, not all are created equal.
Here are different kinds of wood clamps with tips on what uses they are best for.
Clamping is the act of using pressure or force to hold two pieces together while either dry fitting a piece or gluing something into place.
The longer the clamping time, the stronger the bond between boards will be when finished.
These devices can be simple devices powered by hand or foot levers that slowly pinch together boards pressed in their jaws or more complicated designs that give us higher degrees of control over how much pressure we apply and where we apply it.
Types of Wood Clamps
Hand Screw Clamp
A hand screw clamp is a small vise that mounts to your workbench with bolts or screws. There are all sorts of different styles of these gadgets available.
A quick search online will turn up several models, many of which can be purchased for less than $20 at local hardware stores.
The one shown here costs about $12 new and has an adjustable jaw to accept workpieces up to 1-3/4″ wide, making it ideal for smaller projects like tabletops, pens, wooden spoons, etc.
If you already have a larger bench-mounted vise in your workshop, you might consider also buying one or two hand screw clamps so that areas requiring assembly can be worked on – you’ll want to use clamps if you’re gluing up smaller pieces such as pens, for example.
Besides the cost savings, another advantage of using hand screw clamps is that they are easy to carry around and move about your work area because there are no steel rods that need to stay plugged into a large vise or powerhouse clamping system.
Screw-Type Bar Clamp
These multi-purpose workhorses are available in various sizes with jaws joined by either a threaded rod or an expanding bolt. Both styles can handle both small and larger projects because you can set their jaws to any width imaginable.
Even though these devices are not particularly expensive (around $25 at most home centers), they do require a bit more muscle to use than most other woodworking clamps.
That’s because their beams are thicker and the threaded-rod design requires you to turn a large handle – sometimes as much as three or four revolutions – to achieve maximum holding power.
A toggle clamp is a small hand-operated device that looks like a C-clamp.
Toggle clamps work well for smaller projects, but they can also hold very heavy pieces in place during assembly operations.
A typical toggle clamp only costs around $20, yet it can securely grip items up to 1″ thick.
Like all of the best woodworking clamps out there, this tool makes light work of almost any project involving boards from thin veneers up to 2-1/2″ thick.
The workpiece is pressed between two soft pads attached to an over-center toggle mechanism that locks the jaws closed as you pump the handle.
A spring clamp works like a hand screw clamp, only it has a trigger and uses tension provided by a coiled steel spring. Simply squeezing the grip releases the hold instead of cranking down on an arm or knob as with other clamps.
Spring clamps are ideal for small and medium projects that involve narrow boards held in place using either end stops or corner blocks; this tool can apply pressure without marring your wood surfaces or leaving visible marks from rapidly spinning knobs and levers.
A typical 1″-wide version costs less than $10, yet it can secure a workpiece that measures up to 3-1/2″ in width.
Spring clamps are available in three main types: An all-metal lamp with a wooden handle; this useful tool costs around $15 and is easy to use when gluing up small projects like cutting boards.
A plastic version with a metal screw, trigger mechanism, and steel spring costs around the same price as its metal cousin but is easier on wood surfaces because it has no exposed metal parts that might scratch your workpiece.
If you’re building smaller items from thin stock, consider buying a tiny tabletop version of this versatile clamp for under $5.
A bench vise is a powerhouse that solidly secures your workpiece and makes light work of all kinds of tasks that require holding power.
Bench vises clamp onto the top edges of woodworking workbenches and support tables, and they typically feature either a swiveling wooden jaw or a machined aluminum face with replaceable steel jaws.
A good bench vise costs around $100 but can last a lifetime if properly cared for – you should add oil to its screw mechanism on occasion to keep it working smoothly over the years.
Plus, when compared to other woodworking clamps, this tool has an excellent track record when it comes to safety: Because its jaws are stationary during use, there is no chance of getting injured by accidentally contacting a rapidly spinning arm.
Drill Press Vise
A drill press vise is a powerful holding tool that lets you secure boards with drill holes for routing operations.
Drilling into the edge of your workpiece isn’t usually recommended because this can split or crack the wood, but these vises feature sturdy clamping mechanisms that reduce the likelihood of accidents if you’re careful not to apply too much downward force when drilling.
These tools are especially useful at the router table, where they help keep your workpieces aligned as you rout grooves and rabbets across their edges.
A good vise costs less than $80 and comes with hardened steel jaws designed to grip materials between 1/8″ and 1-1/2″ thick.
Like most other clamps on this list, it works best when used with a helper who holds the workpiece as you tighten the vise around it.
Lag Bolt Clamp
A lag bolt clamp is a useful tool for storing and transporting boards because this unique method of securing your materials makes them easier to handle.
A standard set consists of either six or eight hinged U-shaped jaws (usually made from wood) that are secured to one another using small lag bolts, washers, and wing nuts; each jaw is attached to its lag bolt, which has threads on only it’s the head end.
To use this device, simply fasten each jaw onto your workpieces before stacking them together – there’s no need to pre-drill holes in your pieces because wood naturally expands when clamped into this vise.
Plus, if you’re transporting your workpieces in the back of a truck or van, this clamp makes it easy to tie them down or stack them into place without worrying about boards slipping off your load and getting damaged on the road.
A standard set of lag bolt clamps costs less than $60, which is comparable to other types of woodworking vises.
A g-clamp’s simple design makes it an effective choice for many different projects, ranging from picture frames to edge banding applications on cabinets and furniture parts.
You can use one of these devices by attaching its double-jawed head directly onto a workpiece so it sits flush with the surface you want to secure; then, tighten the device’s single screw mechanism to apply pressure onto your workpiece.
G-clamps are often used in conjunction with a holding jig that allows you to secure one end of a board while routing its opposite edge; because these vises let you adjust their jaws for optimal positioning, they’re great for making repeated cuts on longboards without having to reposition clamps or fasten boards into place.
You can also combine two or more g-clamps to create larger clamping forces around thicker pieces; this is especially useful when gluing wider panels together – simply attach extra g-clamps onto the ends before tightening them all at once.
A set of 4″ diameter clamps typically costs less than $20 and can be used for a wide range of projects.
A hose clamp is another old standby that’s considered easy to use and fairly reliable when it comes to securing boards during routing operations.
These vises are very inexpensive – you can typically find heats with steel levers that come in sets of four or five for less than $4.
Each vise has two adjustable arms linked together using an S-shaped bolt; this mechanism allows you to open the clamping jaws so they fit around your workpiece, then simply release the tension on the lever arm to tighten them down onto your workpieces.
However, there are several downsides associated with using hose clamps: For example, these vises can’t be tightened enough to grip boards thicker than 1/4″, and you must be very careful not to damage the clamp’s jaws because they’re made from aluminum, which is relatively soft.
Quick-Release Bar Clamp
A quick-release bar clamp can easily secure workpieces between 3/4″ and 1-1/2″ thick; this device features a metal rod that slides through an L-shaped head with adjustable teeth inside its throat.
To use one, simply place your workpiece into the vise’s throat and raise or lower its handle until it tightens securely onto your material; then, slowly pull down on the release lever above its handle to tighten the vise around your board.
Quick-release levers offer moderate pressure when tightened; however, their release levers can be difficult to pull and their L-shaped heads tend not to apply even clamping forces when used at severe angles.
A simple bar clamp is probably the most commonly used device when gluing up large panels or face frame material; this vise features a flat steelhead with several parallel grooves running across its surface.
To use one, simply place your workpiece between two lengths of bar stock, then tighten down the steel screw in its center using an Allen wrench (or hex key) for added pressure between opposite faces to keep everything stable while gluing.
Bar clamps tend to cost more than other types of vises because they’re considered heavy duty; you can find standard models made from tubular stock that runs between 2′ and 5′ long for around $20 a piece.
If you need to glue up wide panels or create edge banding around large pieces of plywood, consider investing in an edge clamping kit; strap clamps are among the most versatile types available.
This vise features a flat steel base with rubber straps attached to its sides that let it conform to almost any shape – plus, most kits contain several different-sized bases and interchangeable metal straps that can be used for either face work or edge applications.
A typical kit costs around $30 and is very easy to use; simply position your workpiece against the base (or attach it using suitable jigs), then tighten its adjustable central screw until all parts are secure against your material.
Although they’re great for many common jobs, these vises must be used carefully because they can mar the surface of your workpiece if you tighten them too much.
Spring clamps are similar to strap clamps in many respects, but they have a very distinctive appearance because one side of their head assembly features an adjustable screw.
This device operates much like a bar clamp in that you need to squeeze it together around your workpiece before tightening its central screw; however, unlike bar clamps which feature grooves on the heads of their bars, spring clamps have ball-shaped mechanisms that let them hold much less material.
Because each vase has been designed with stainless steel springs inside its head, they’re also considered more durable than other types of vises – plus, most models come equipped with cushioned grip handles and can be found for prices comparable to those of bar or strap clamps.
As you can see, there are many types of wood clamps available for a variety of purposes. Although bar and strap clamps tend to be the most common types used when gluing up furniture because they provide even clamping pressure, quick-release models do offer substantial advantages in certain situations – such as when you’re gluing thin material together or need to move your workpiece from one surface to another during assembly.
For this reason, I typically keep both types in my workshop because they each serve their unique purposes.
If I only had enough money to buy one type of wood clamp, however, I would spend it on a pair of strap clamps; these versatile vises can handle almost any job and don’t cost nearly as much as other types of clamps.
However, you should buy whichever type meets your needs the best because each one has its advantages that are worth considering when making a purchase decision.