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Forum topic by HokieMojo posted 05-22-2008 10:15 PM 1852 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 3694 days

05-22-2008 10:15 PM

I know that the selection of which clamp to use is very specific to the task at hand, but I’m wondering about some of the varieties. I feel I need to geta few more because my current work process involves working on cutting during the weekend, then doing several glues ups (one face per night) during the week.

Right now I’ve got 4 3/4” pony pipe clamps. These are definitely the best quality ones I’ve got. I have 3 ft and 6 ft pipe lengths (4 of each) so I can switch the clamps between the pipes as needed. I’ve been thinking of buying 2 or 4 more, along with some shorter lengths of pipe, but maybe for shorter clamps bar clamps would be better? These seem kind of pricey and not as versatile.

I just bought 2 24” irwin quick clamps at a going out of business sale. I think these are 12” clamps. They are nice because I can clamp with one hand free. They seem to clamp pretty strong, but no where near my pipe clamps.

I have 2 vise clamps (?) they have 2 threaded scrws going through 2 wooden jaws. They have about an 8” opening. They work ok when trying to clamp things down, but I do need a bench vise for this sometime soon. I got these at big lots for $5 a piece. Hopefully they will last a while longer, but I feel like I push them to their limits anytime a twist them tight.

Finally, I have 4 k clamps (?). They are lbar clamps where the jaws extend out about 2-3 inches? These are about 24” long. they were $5 each at big lots too. They tend to move when tightening and I feel like they flex under stress. They are also harde to tighten because of the odd shape of the handle. I do use them, but they are not my favorite.

Anyway, I guess my question is what do you think the best type of clamp is for gluing up cabinet frames (I think that the pipe clamp is the best of what I’ve got, but I see a lot of people using bar clamps)? Also, are there better clamps for what I’m using mine for? Also, I’d love to hear about any other clamps you guys use that you think are nearly indispensable!

16 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4184 days

#1 posted 05-22-2008 10:21 PM

I’m no expert, but I find that my bar clamps are the ones I use most. Sure, a bar clamp will flex some when you tighten it, but you don’t want to overdo it on clamping pressure either. Too much force will squeeze most of the glue out of the joint and weaken your bond.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View benhasajeep's profile


30 posts in 3635 days

#2 posted 05-22-2008 10:44 PM

I have 14 4’ aluminium bar clamps, decent but tend to twist when you really tighten down.
I have about 36 bar (f type) ranging from 36” down to 6” They are ok for decent everyday glue up.
I have 4 3/4” pipe clamps 6’ long. Would like to get about 8 more.
Other than that have a good selection of spring clamps, c-clamps, and a couple quick clamps.

Next on my clamp want list is to get some parallel clamps.

-- Ben, Living the good life in Maine now (almost, just need to retire in 2 decades time)

View Greg3G's profile


815 posts in 4051 days

#3 posted 05-22-2008 11:02 PM

I find the clamps I go to the most are my pipe clamps. I have about a dozen 1/2” pony clamps on 4’ pipes, about 1/2 doz 1/2” on 6’ pipes, about 1/2 doz 3/4” on 4’ pipes. I did try the Harbor Freight version. Big Problem, the casting broke the first time I used one. I tossed them.

I also use spring clamps quite a bit as well, I have 8 jorg. and 8 cheep black plastic ones from China. The ones from China do pretty well.

I also have about a dozen small Irwin quick clamps. They have earned their money so far.

I was given a pair of Craftsman 4’ aluminum bar clamps. I don’t use them at all anymore. They easily distort under pressure and the notches where the clamp head fits into have bent.

I did have some small quick clamps (about 4”) from China, threw them away. They would break under pressure.

I just picked up a bunch of F-style clamps from a neighbor who is moving. This added to my current count of about 1/2 dozen of these.

One of these days, I am going to build a clamp rack and get them more organized.

-- Greg - Charles Town, WV

View brunob's profile


2277 posts in 4135 days

#4 posted 05-22-2008 11:10 PM

I too use my bar clamps most. I find they provide sufficient pressure for glue ups. I have sizes up to 3’. Much more than that and they flex too much. For distances over that I have 4 and 6’ pipe clamps. I have a few 12” Irwins that I use a lot because they are quick and easdy to use. I have a few cheap spring clamps and they work fine. I got them at the dollar store.

-- Bruce from Central New, if you'll pardon me, I have some sawdust to make.

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3954 days

#5 posted 05-22-2008 11:48 PM

I like the Bessey K-body clamps. They are expensive but I bought what I have over a couple year period.
They are very versatile. You can clamp them from the back, side or front. They are very heavy duty.

For small job I like the spring clamps. I wait for them to be on sale and will buy 10-15 of them all at once.

I also like C-clamps. Harbor Freight usually has at least one size on sale every week. I usually get them for $2 each, which is a great deal for a 4” or 5” clamp.

Click for details

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 3688 days

#6 posted 05-23-2008 02:49 AM

I am of the beleif that the size of the job determines the size of the clamp. When working on big panels of cases I grap the pipe clamps. For most jobs though I reach for bar clamps. I like the grip and the feel I get from them and they provide sufficent clamping pressure to achieve the clamping I want. Like Gary, I also grab the spring clamps for the small work: I have even used clothes pin a time or two.

Norm always says: “You can never have too many clamps.” I always seem to be fighting the opposite in that I never seem to have enough.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View David Freed's profile

David Freed

113 posts in 3633 days

#7 posted 05-23-2008 03:21 AM

Several years ago I drew up some plans for some shop-made bar clamps, but I never got around to making them. I thought I would post the plans here in case anyone is interested. If anyone would happen to make some from these plans, I would like to know how well (or if) they work. Here is the link-

-- David, Southern Indiana

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 3694 days

#8 posted 05-23-2008 04:47 AM

Thanks for the posts. I actually forgot a few I’ve got. I’ve been buying spring clamps at the dollar store. I think it is two 2” clamps for a dollar or one 4”. That might actually be a worse price than the hardware store, but I’m not sure.

I also had two 90 degree angle clamps from irwin. They had the problem so many people have mentioned where the c-clip on the clamp pops off. Well mine popped off into the hole in the cinderblocks of my garage, probably gone forever. That is a serious design flaw there.

I also have two bandclamps. They came in handy whan I made a small box. I’ll post pics someday (soon I hope). Thanks for all the advice. I’m going to try to pick up a few 1/2” pipe clamps from a cabinet shop that is closing. I’ll try to get 8, but who knows what will be left by the time I get there.

Thanks for the great posts. This is interesting to me because as expenseive as individual clamps seem, they are one of the few things i can afford that peopel discuss here and I have no past experience to draw from so your input is apprecaited. Thanks all!

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3859 days

#9 posted 05-23-2008 05:08 AM

I havent a clue how many clamps I have but I know I have a lot and I also know that there is never enough of them.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Matt (Upper Cut)'s profile

Matt (Upper Cut)

264 posts in 3779 days

#10 posted 05-23-2008 06:15 AM

I just got rid of most of my clamps after buying the Jet clamps. When I made my most recent project, the parallel faces were a real dream.

Rockler had wooden handscrews onsale recently, but I don’t have any. Can’t figure out why I’d use them. I do have a ton of the little german F clamps in various lengths, they are really handy.

-- Matt Gradwohl, Upper Cut Woodworks,

View Al Killian's profile

Al Killian

273 posts in 3718 days

#11 posted 05-23-2008 07:10 AM

I use my bar clamps the most. Most of mine are the Jory brand from home depot. I also love haveing cuals on hand for larger clamping projects.

-- Owner of custom millwork shop

View RonPage's profile


58 posts in 3665 days

#12 posted 05-23-2008 07:35 AM

Aside from the myriad c-clamps, these clamps, those clamps, my go-to is the pipe clamp. I have them in lengths from 6’ down to 2’. They can be cumbersome at times but I know that when I get a piece locked down, it’s not going anywhere.

-- Ron, Bakersfield, CA. Measure twice, cut twice anyway.

View gator9t9's profile


331 posts in 3670 days

#13 posted 05-23-2008 07:59 AM

Al Killian …... That url is no good .....At least i could not get it to go anyplace (The requested document was not found on this server.)
I noticed tonite I was watching Norm Abram and he was doing his show 1 of Router usage and he was using a couple of clamps with vice grip handles ..they looked pretty neat …they were med large clamps ….Anyone know the name of those clamps Norm was using in the Router show #1 ??
I have a number of clamps ….about 12 i got from Penn State Industries ….a number of them are the Clamp and Spread , of which are very easy to grip and tighten ..tho i do not think they tighten extremely tight …and i am not sure if that is good or bad ..
I see now that Penn State Industry has them on sale at 1/2 off …the 24 in are at $7.50
Clamps are very expensive …(what isnt these days though) I was at Woodcraft store the other day looking at the deep throated Bessey Tradesman man those babies are heavy duty yes …
To have a good selection of clamps costs as much as a good power tool …and David Marks says …you can never have enuff clamps ….

-- Mike in Bonney Lake " If you are real real real good your whole life, You 'll be buried in a curly maple coffin when you die."

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1283 posts in 3702 days

#14 posted 05-23-2008 08:59 AM


I have around 300 different clamps. They all get used. It just depends on the project.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View Doug S.'s profile

Doug S.

295 posts in 3673 days

#15 posted 05-24-2008 01:43 PM

I should proabaly sell me pipe clam;s but the You-can-never-have-too-many-clamps thing makes me think I shouldn’t. But they haven’t been used since I started using parallel clamps. They take a lot less fussing than adjusting pipe clamps to make sure you aren’t applying pressure wrong and causing non-flat glue-ups. Mine are all Gros-Stabils but if I were buying now, I think I’d go with the Jet. I’ve also got some of the BowClamp cauls and they work great but if you’re just doing frame/panel type glue-ups I think the clamps are enough. The BowClamps would help out for something like bookmatched panel glueing or wide/tall carcases.

-- Use the fence Luke

showing 1 through 15 of 16 replies

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