Clamps: a recommended starter set?

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Forum topic by startingfromscratch posted 01-06-2010 10:20 PM 5846 views 2 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View startingfromscratch's profile


69 posts in 3191 days

01-06-2010 10:20 PM

It’s slow at work, so I’m firing up questions. I know folks are going to say “well, it depends on what you’re doing” and I get that, but what would folks recommend in terms of a starter set of clamps?

At the moment, I have:
2 HF heavy pipe clamps with 5 foot pipes
2 24 inch bar clamps (no idea who made them)
2 36 in craftsman bar clamps
2 Irwin one hand mini bar clamps
2 6” c-clamps
2 Irwin handi clamps (which I think are useless)
1 random 10” wooden screw clamp

I know you can always use more and it all depends on what you’re working on (I seem to do mostly light cabinetry and furniture stuff at the moment but want to do some custom birdhouses to look like the row homes we live in and make a bitchin’ doll house for my one year old daughter when she gets older…).

Is there a minimum, budget-conscience set of clamps folks would suggest?

12 replies so far

View cliffton's profile


117 posts in 3080 days

#1 posted 01-06-2010 10:56 PM

make yourself a set of wedge clamps, i have found that for many projects they are the perfect clamp. one of the first things i did when i started woodworking was to make a set of 60 of em, they just come in soooo handy.


View Rob200's profile


313 posts in 3168 days

#2 posted 01-06-2010 11:18 PM

like you I ma getting started and clamp are one thing I was wounder how to go at first I thought pipe clamp were the cheep way to go over k body but by the time I both the pipe 72” 16.00 the clamps 12.00 = 28.00 and the k body were 32.00 so to me go with what you like and what make you fell good .it is you working with them buy more when you buy more you will need at lest( 8)48”and up and like I said once buy more when you can you can not have to many

-- Robert Laddusaw and no I am not smarter then a fifth grader ( and no I canot spell so if it is a problem don't read it ))

View pmayer's profile


1028 posts in 3064 days

#3 posted 01-07-2010 05:34 PM

I use a ton of 3’ pipe clamps and 18” bar clamps, so I would start there. I have some 4’ pipes as well, but don’t use them nearly as often. I have pipe couplers on hand to combine pipes when I need more capacity, and these are great to have. On the pipe clamps, get Pony or comparable. Don’t go cheap or you will kick yourself down the road, because the cheap ones will present you will multiple problems including breaking when you need them most. Clamps are the last thing you want to be short on, as the quality of your work will suffer with inadequate clamping pressure and location. Get more than you think you will need, and then start saving for more. Sometimes I laugh when I look at all the clamps I have, but just a few months ago I built something a long complex bench where I used every one of my pipe and bar clamps.

-- PaulMayer,

View a1Jim's profile


117091 posts in 3576 days

#4 posted 01-07-2010 05:40 PM

I have about 40 HF 3/4” pipe clamps there the best for the money a have allot of other brands and types of clamps too.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View MrsN's profile


986 posts in 3525 days

#5 posted 01-07-2010 08:03 PM

I also like 18” bar clamps for most of what I am working on, and they would probably be really useful in making birdhouses or dollhouses. For most of my scroll saw stuff that needs gluing I use spring clamps (like clothes pins with more power, now that I think of it I use a lot of clothes pins also)
At school we use a lot of 3’ and 4’ pipe clamps. Most of what the kids make can be clamped up with them and they are easy to use. we also have longer ones, there is a really long (like 15’) one hanging in the ceiling but I don’t know what it was ever used for.
When clamping smaller pieces at school we have dozens of wooden screw clamps, I personally hate them because students can’t ever get them to clamp well.

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3285 days

#6 posted 01-08-2010 12:33 AM

I use a lot of 4” C-clamps. I also like 3/4” pipe clamps. You can buy multiple lengths of pipe and switch fixtures as needed. That way your money goes further, and you still have versatility. I have always used Pony, and had good luck.

That said, there is no end to the number and type clamps you may need. Buy all you can afford every chance you get.


View knotscott's profile


8015 posts in 3375 days

#7 posted 01-08-2010 01:43 AM

Those HF Pittsburg bar clamps are a really good deal for that style of clamp…. tough to beat for $2 to $4. I use a lot of the 6” & 12” clamps.

I’d add at least a pair of parallel bar clamps. They’re a little expensive and pretty incredible. I find the 24” to 40” range the most useful for what I do…YMMV.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3074 days

#8 posted 01-08-2010 02:59 AM

I probably use my small Irwin one-hand clamps more than any other clamps in my shop. They are so handy. I also get a lot of use out of wooden screw clamps. They are so versatile. If you are doing some heavy duty, large clamp-ups nothing beats the Scott Phillips from Gross Stabil Tool. Of course, they are a little pricy and their advantage over bar clamps may not justify the higher cost.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View stiletta's profile


23 posts in 3212 days

#9 posted 01-08-2010 05:16 AM

There`s nothing like Jorgensen! Their made with acme thread and are easy on the rist. I made the mistake of buying a chineese knock off, what a pain


View KevinVan's profile


91 posts in 3150 days

#10 posted 01-08-2010 05:31 AM

Jorgensen cabinet master clamps took me to the next level after years of struggling with cheap clamps.
You still need a variety, but parallel clamp are the best. Jorgies are made in the USA. Their customer sevice is top notch.

-- ALS IK KAN “to the best of my ability,”

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3068 days

#11 posted 01-08-2010 07:14 AM

I use the Pony pipe clamps for both 3/4” and 1/2” pipe, and have several pieces of 3/4” and 1/2” pipe ranging from 24” to 6’. This lets me make up whatever clamp length I need at that time.

I also have several spring clamps that get lots of use; several Irwin bar clamps; four strap clamps; and a few of the Irwin Handi-Clamps which mostly collect dust.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View scrappy's profile


3507 posts in 3430 days

#12 posted 01-08-2010 08:59 AM

I’m jelouse. I only have 3 “C” clamps and 3 36” bar clamps. Real pain glueing up a small box. haha

Will be getting more soon.


-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

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