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How many clamps do you really need??

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Forum topic by becikeja posted 01-07-2017 12:10 PM 1150 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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becikeja

823 posts in 2651 days


01-07-2017 12:10 PM

As I watch youtube videos and read FWW etc… I see simple glue ups using an unimaginable amount of clamps. Over the years, I have completed my share of similar glue ups using 1/2 or even a 1/3 amount of the clamps and have yet to have any issues. Maybe I have just been lucky. I do spread the clamps in order to get pressure across the entire project, and will admit I probably have more pressure in isolated spots than using double or triple the amount of clamps.
How do you know how many clamps you really need? When is enough and when do you need to add more.

Just trying to learn all I can.

I appreciate all responses.

-- Don't outsmart your common sense


20 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4761 posts in 2331 days


#1 posted 01-07-2017 12:15 PM

The old adage that “you can never have too many clamps” is an urban myth, IMHO. There are always workarounds if you’re limited on how many you have. That said, there is a minimum number you need for most thigns and it pays to have at least that many. A dry run before applying the glue is useful just for that (and a slew of other) reason (s).

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Clarkie's profile

Clarkie

448 posts in 1679 days


#2 posted 01-07-2017 12:54 PM

Having more clamps than you think you need is a good thing. It’s similar to having a 12” bandsaw or a 16” bandsaw. A big machine can do little cuts, but, a small machine can’t make the big cuts. To have an access at the time of need is always a good thing. Clamps can be purchased at many of the yard sales at a fraction of the present cost, so why not get a few more than you think you should need. Have fun, make some dust.

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

7658 posts in 2752 days


#3 posted 01-07-2017 01:11 PM

I have four(4) of each length of parallel clamps …12, 24, 36, 48, (thinking about getting 60in.). Four(4) of each size F-type clamps & trigger clamps, 4in.&8in. wooden screw clamps, 2in&4in. spring clamps, etc.

In other words, I have at least four(4) of each size and type that I need for a project. And NO, I did not buy them all at once.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Loren's profile

Loren

9631 posts in 3486 days


#4 posted 01-07-2017 02:06 PM

In traditional Japanese woodworking clamps
aren’t use much and most joints are “rubbed”.

Primarily clamps compensate for sloppy
woodworking. Now this is not a slur, because
not being sloppy takes more time and if I clamp
can correct a problem brought on by me being
sloppy, I’ll use the clamp.

They also use rope and wedge clamping in
Japanese woodworking. If you think about it
probably pro woodworkers got by with a lot
fewer clamps than we use today in the pre-1900
era.

But, that said, I have a lot of clamps.

View Redoak49's profile

Redoak49

2902 posts in 1826 days


#5 posted 01-07-2017 02:30 PM

I am a sloppy woodworker and have a lot of clamps. I have a lot of different types but use the Irwin Quik Clamps quite a bit for just holding things and not necessarily for gluing.

I do need a couple more deep throat clamps.

Some of my best clamps are 6 inch cast iron clamps that my wife bought me 30+ years ago and are Craftsman.

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shipwright

7779 posts in 2636 days


#6 posted 01-07-2017 03:05 PM



In traditional Japanese woodworking clamps
aren t use much and most joints are “rubbed”.

Primarily clamps compensate for sloppy
woodworking. Now this is not a slur, because
not being sloppy takes more time and if I clamp
can correct a problem brought on by me being
sloppy, I ll use the clamp.

They also use rope and wedge clamping in
Japanese woodworking. If you think about it
probably pro woodworkers got by with a lot
fewer clamps than we use today in the pre-1900
era.

But, that said, I have a lot of clamps.

- Loren

Before around 1950 hot hide glue was the norm in furniture and rub joints would have been common. Joints that did need clamps would have needed fewer. I don’t have a great number of clamps but since I started using almost exclusively hot hide glue I never use them all and seldom use more than a few. For many joints I don’t use any at all.
My point is that the type of glue you choose will affect the answer to your question.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees. http://thecanadianschooloffrenchmarquetry.com/

View Rob_s's profile

Rob_s

171 posts in 460 days


#7 posted 01-07-2017 04:37 PM

I found this article very informative regarding clamping. In particular the force diagrams that helped me understand how many clamps to use and how to deal with having fewer clamps.

http://www.finewoodworking.com/2010/05/11/how-to-glue-up-joints-positioning-the-clamps

-- www.facebook.com/therealbnrlabs

View Ripper70's profile

Ripper70

613 posts in 746 days


#8 posted 01-07-2017 04:56 PM



I found this article very informative regarding clamping. In particular the force diagrams that helped me understand how many clamps to use and how to deal with having fewer clamps.

http://www.finewoodworking.com/2010/05/11/how-to-glue-up-joints-positioning-the-clamps

- Rob_s

Thanks for this link. Very informative for someone who hasn’t yet acquired enough clamps. ;-)

-- "You know, I'm such a great driver, it's incomprehensible that they took my license away." --Vince Ricardo

View Smirak's profile

Smirak

41 posts in 356 days


#9 posted 01-07-2017 05:08 PM

I like to think of clamps like I do guns. The number of clamps you need (or guns) is always n+1 where “n” is the current number you own.

View OCristo's profile

OCristo

12 posts in 395 days


#10 posted 01-07-2017 05:12 PM


As I watch youtube videos and read FWW etc… I see simple glue ups using an unimaginable amount of clamps. Over the years, I have completed my share of similar glue ups using 1/2 or even a 1/3 amount of the clamps and have yet to have any issues. Maybe I have just been lucky.

[...]
- becikeja

I constructed all the cabinets (bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, storage area, laundry and garden), side tables and tables as well some other stuff for our home (since) 25 years ago using only four Merle clamps (great for doors and framing), two 1500 mm Pony pipe clamps, four 24 in and four 12 inch Wise grip, a couple of C-clamps and a couple of F-clamps… nothing more.

I added ten or fifteen years ago some spring clamps I never used for “actual” jobs.

Seeing backwards it is intersting how I survived with so few clamps… :-)

We are planning moving home in the next few months and I will lost my dedicated workshop… I will have a chance to start from the scratch to create a new “workshop”... I am thinking something more generous on clamping tools… I plan to add some parallel clamps also. Let us see… :-)

All the best,

-- An Amateur Woodworker

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

27087 posts in 2176 days


#11 posted 01-07-2017 05:17 PM

I agree pretty much with Loren. Too many use clamps to compensate for sloppy work (BTDT). So spending time with proper cuts and fitting helps.

That being said, it’s wood and I am human. It moves and I make mistakes. I will buy more clamps this year.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Kirk650's profile

Kirk650

514 posts in 586 days


#12 posted 01-07-2017 05:38 PM

I think that saying that having and using clamps is to compensate for sloppy woodwork is a ridiculous thing to say.

More clamps than you need is probably the right amount to own.

View bbasiaga's profile

bbasiaga

1011 posts in 1833 days


#13 posted 01-07-2017 05:48 PM

Just one more…..

-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View jbay's profile (online now)

jbay

1857 posts in 737 days


#14 posted 01-07-2017 05:49 PM

I think of it like this.
When you apply pressure with clamps your compressing the wood and it bends the wood,
there is actually bow back in areas where you don’t have clamps.
This is why you need to place clamps close to each end.

This is an exaggerated picture of what I mean.
And as always different wood, different widths, and all the variables that come with it,
but this is a general idea of how I think about it.

Of course I could be way off, but nevertheless, I put clamps about every 6 – 8”
.
.
.

-- If anyone would like to see my Portfolio, PM me and I would be glad to send you the link.

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Madmark2

373 posts in 426 days


#15 posted 01-07-2017 06:21 PM

Clamp pressure fans out at a 45° angle. Each clamp should be 2x the width of the material starting the width in from the ends.

Same-same with hinges, space at 1/4 – 1/2 – 1/4 for two hinges, 1/6 – 1/3 -1/3 – 1/6 for three, etc.

M

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