What Size Clamps to Buy?

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Forum topic by cFurnitureGuy posted 02-23-2010 10:10 PM 10594 views 1 time favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View cFurnitureGuy's profile


145 posts in 3350 days

02-23-2010 10:10 PM

I need to start buying more clamps… we all know, you can never have too many! i cant afford to buy a bunch at a time… so i think i am going to start buing a clamp or 2 a month and slowly add to my collection!

The big questions is…. what size should i buy? i know i need multiples of every size but, in general what are the most common sizes you use everyday? 12”- 24”- 36”? what brands and styles do you buy? obviously, i would like to have tons of Bessey parallel clamps but they arent always the most affordable!

let me know what you think! thanks!

-- Justin, Savannah,Ga

21 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8541 posts in 3822 days

#1 posted 02-23-2010 10:27 PM

I would say that it really depends on the work you do. if you do boxes – than 6” might be ideal, if you do furniture (as your user id suggest) it depends on what size furniture you make most. do you do lots of panels? what sizes? do you do mostly carcass construction? what sizes?

I find that I mostly use 6” for smaller parts, and 18”/24” for everything else. I find the 18”/24” most flexible as they are short enough to be light weight to handle, but still have a good reach for carcass construction most of the time. the 18” is a bit too short at times. the 24” mostly fits the bill.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Jeison's profile


968 posts in 3282 days

#2 posted 02-23-2010 10:33 PM

It really really depends on what kind of projects you’re working on, personally I find I get the most use out of 6” and 12” one handed bar and F-stlye clamps, and 2” and 4” C-clamps. I stock up on Irwins when Menards has the occasional sale, also the Pittsburgh brand from Harbor Freight is a good quality and inexpensive (esp when they’re on sale, tho I try to stay away from the HF Central Forge clamps – yes they’re cheap in price, but they’re cheap in construction too)

Unless you find a great sale, anything over 24” I’d say pick up some HF pipe clamps, thats probably the most economical.

-- - Jei, Rockford IL - When in doubt, spray it with WD-40 and wrap it with duct tape. The details will attend to themselves.

View cFurnitureGuy's profile


145 posts in 3350 days

#3 posted 02-23-2010 10:38 PM

thanks guys! i guess i left out what size projects i usually work on… i am kind all over the place as far a size! Everything form bookcases, desks to cabinets and smaller box type cabinets! i have been reading about the HF clamps and sounds like they are a good deal and an economical choice… the Bessey F style clamps at Lowes seem to be reasonable as well..

-- Justin, Savannah,Ga

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3460 days

#4 posted 02-23-2010 11:41 PM

If you use pipe clamp fixtures, you can buy multiple lengths of pipe, and switch out the fixtures on the pipe as needed. I even keep a couple of ten foot pipes to use when I need them. That way you don’t have to have near as many clamps. You can always ad fixtues as you can afford them.


View dbhost's profile


5767 posts in 3406 days

#5 posted 02-24-2010 12:10 AM

Depends on what you are doing. BUT… For the most part, I seem to use my 6” and 12” bar clamps, and my strap clamps the most. Every now and then I use my 24” and 36” not to mention the pipe clamps, but it is infrequent…

Watch Harbor Freight for sales on their F bar clamps… I know a lot of their stuff is junk but the clamps I list below are widely considered “HF Gems”...

You will want item #s…

#96210 6” Bar Clamp. I paid $1.99 each for mine. #96214 12” Bar Clamp. I paid $2.99 each for mine. #96211 18” Bar Clamp. I don’t have any 18”, but they go for $3.99 on sale… #96213 24” Bar Clamp. I paid $4.99 each for mine. #96487 36” Bar Clamp. I paid $5.99 each for mine.

On top of the bar clamps I also got…

#45975 18 Piece PVC Spring Clamp Set. I think I paid $8.99 for the set.

DO NOT buy any of the clamps that are the Ratcheting Bar Clamps. Those things are utter junk and not worth the gas to go get them…

Not HF related…

I have picked up a couple of the BigHorn 19632 strap clamps. Cheapies yeah, fiber reinforced PVC construction yeah, but GREAT for the dollars they sell for. IF I were willing to spend more, I would go with the Bessey Vario clamps instead…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Swede's profile


191 posts in 3192 days

#6 posted 02-24-2010 12:17 AM

I have several Jorgesen Handscrew clamps of various sizes they are nice being made of wood they don’t dent my clamping projects. I also have some of there Bar Clamps. I also agree that you can’t beat pipe clamps for the price and being able to use different length of pipes.

-- Swede -- time to make some sawdust

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3242 days

#7 posted 02-24-2010 12:36 AM

I build cabinets and furniture and have several of the Pony pipe clamps (in 1/2” & 3/4”). Most of my pipes are galvanized and were salvaged from house repipe jobs. I keep a few threaded couplings around to make up really long clamps when needed.

I also have eight of the 12” Irwin “Quickgrip” clamps and two of their 24” clamps.

Then, there are the 6” and 3” spring clamps, as well as the four strap clamps.

There may still be some “C” clamps around, but I’m not sure where I put them. – lol

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Blair Helgason's profile

Blair Helgason

169 posts in 3588 days

#8 posted 02-24-2010 12:44 AM

I just recently bought four 24” Jorgensen Cabinet Master clamps from Lee Valley. They are insanely expensive but worth every penny. When I use then they feel more like a bench vise rather than clamps. They’re so solid and force every piece square. After tax these were almost $200 which was hard but I’m pretty sure I’ll have them forever.,43838

-- Blair

View RKW's profile


328 posts in 3621 days

#9 posted 02-24-2010 01:35 AM

Hey Justin, check out the blog i did on pipe clamps a while back. Between what i wrote and everyone’s comments, I think it might help.

-- RKWoods

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3248 days

#10 posted 02-24-2010 02:13 AM

I have clamps in all sizes and styles. The clamps I use the most are the little 6 inch one-hander clamps (Irwin). I’m also a big fan of the old fashion wooden hand screw clamps. I probably like them because, if I need to, I can modify them. Need an extra deep throat – no problem – make new, longer 2×2s of maple and move the mechanics to your new maple.

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

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3654 days

#11 posted 02-24-2010 04:02 AM

I have quite a few Jorgensen ISD clamps. I was doing the same thing, buying one hear and there. I now have 4 each – 12 inch, 18 inch, 24 inch, and 36 inch. I love them. I use them not only clamping joints, but they work great holding wood down while routing etc on the workbench. I think the 12 and 18 inch ones I use the most. I am working on buying the Bessey Revo cabinet clamps now, but thats going to take a while to build up the stash :-) I also have Jorgensen pipe clamps among others but the ISD ones I use the most.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View a1Jim's profile


117273 posts in 3751 days

#12 posted 02-24-2010 05:44 AM

I agree with kent.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View cFurnitureGuy's profile


145 posts in 3350 days

#13 posted 02-24-2010 05:41 PM

thanks everyone for the feedback! i have several pipe clamps that i use from time to time… i also have 3-4 jorgs clamps which i like! but i will look into HF clamps as well. they just built a HF store here about a year ago… yay (good for me! bad for my back account!) next on the list will be a clamp rack to display my “trophies” ;)

-- Justin, Savannah,Ga

View Sarit's profile


550 posts in 3314 days

#14 posted 02-25-2010 12:55 AM

I started w/ the pipe clamps too, but now i’m using lots of HF aluminum bar clamps. When I total the price of the black pipe and the clamp, i can get 2 HF alum bar clamps of the same length for the same price. You gotta clean or cover the black pipes so they don’t leave black marks on the wood. Plus they are heavy, especially when you are using 4 or more at a time. If you use galv pipe instead then they slip. Just a pain in my opinion.

View ackychris's profile


103 posts in 3187 days

#15 posted 03-14-2010 09:04 AM

I was just clamp shopping on the harbor freight site, and I came across this thread. Everyone’s got it covered, pretty much, but I thought I’d mention that lately,’s handscrew clamps have been on sale frequently. I got 3 10” Rockler handscrews for under $10 each—great deal, IMO.

-- I hate finishing. I never manage to quit while I'm ahead. --Chris

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