What kind of clamps should I buy for assembling doors and panels?

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Forum topic by noone posted 04-29-2012 04:37 AM 1525 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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559 posts in 1696 days

04-29-2012 04:37 AM

What’s the best bang for your buck for clamps for doors and panels? I need something that can clamp a 20” wide door and a 15” by 60” panel to start with. Bar clamps? Pipe clamps? Are the pipe and bar clamps from Harbor Freight ok or at least comparable to the Home Depot clamps?!

Suggestions and opinions welcomed.

11 replies so far

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559 posts in 1696 days

#1 posted 04-29-2012 04:53 AM

Guess I should get some pony clamps.

View Tyrone D's profile

Tyrone D

314 posts in 1756 days

#2 posted 04-29-2012 08:49 AM

I’ve used the fancy Bessy K-Body clamps on a frame and panel door and they are very nice. Check out Grizzly for clamps, they have decent prices.

-- --Tyrone - BC, Canada "Nothing is ever perfect, we just run out of time."

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3168 days

#3 posted 04-29-2012 12:09 PM

I use Jorgensen72 series bar clamps. They have enough “meat” in the bar to stay flat when tightened down. I have 36” to 72” clamps and they always deliver a nice flat glue up. If you’re talking about frame and panel doors, then you should be able to get away with some pipe clamps, that would be the cheapest.

View SnowyRiver's profile


51452 posts in 2904 days

#4 posted 04-29-2012 12:17 PM

I use Bessy K body clamps too. They keep the work flat and square. The’re a bit pricy, but you may be able to get similiar clamps that will work just as well.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2346 days

#5 posted 04-29-2012 12:26 PM

I use HF clamps and have never had a problem. I have about 2 dozen of them. F types and bar clamps.

-- Life is good.

View noone's profile


559 posts in 1696 days

#6 posted 05-06-2012 02:46 PM

I used those Pony pipe clamps to glue up some panels and the clamps seemed to pinch the top of the wood causing the edges of the frame to bow up. I could not get it the clamps to pinch straight vertically and square to the edges. Even when using wood blocks between the clamp and the frame. It seems the Pony clamps angle in at the top. How do you use pipe clamps?

View RogerM's profile


747 posts in 1823 days

#7 posted 05-06-2012 02:50 PM

I use Bessy K-body clamps for most of my work. Yes, they are a little pricey but ounce you buy them they will effectively fill most of your clamping needs and you will not have to be looking elsewhere.

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

View a1Jim's profile


115177 posts in 3001 days

#8 posted 05-06-2012 02:55 PM

The way to avoid problems with bowing in your panels is to make sure you your wood has been jointed with good flat edges and when you clamp your panels alternate you clamps on the top and bottom of your panels.

-- Custom furniture

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 2492 days

#9 posted 05-06-2012 03:05 PM

I use either 1/2” or 3/4” Pony clamps. When I’m setting up for my glueup, I sit the clamps on the bench spacing them as needed, open them up a bit wider than I’ll need, put on my glue, and lay my workpieces on the pipes. I generally begin tightening near the middle of the glueup and work my way to either end. The first pass just brings everything together and I tweak the algnment as needed. A second pass increases the pressure so I get a small amout of squeezeout all alont the joint. That’s where I stop.

A good glueup shouldn’t need a great deal of clamp pressure – just enough to bring everything together with a little glue squeezeout. Overtightening pipe clamps can cause a glueup to bow, so if you need to really grind the clamps to close up a joint, there’s probably something wrong with your joints.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View jmos's profile


716 posts in 1793 days

#10 posted 05-06-2012 03:33 PM

I had some Bessey and Jorgensen bar clamps, and they work well. I recently bought some Bessey K-body parallel clamps, and they are a lot easier to use. Much more expensive, but worth it. I waited until I found a sale on the door clamping set (2 24”, 2 50” and the little stands for holding them square) and bought two sets. I’m a believer in parallel clamps now; I’m sure most of the brands are pretty good. Well worth the money.

-- John

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


930 posts in 1778 days

#11 posted 05-06-2012 03:52 PM

Half inch pipe clamps are probably your most economical choice, but um harbor freight clamps, well let’s just say I worked in a shop that tended to go crazy buying their clamps and well most of their clamps wouldn’t last a day or two…

But back to the pipe clamps, degrease them before putting your clamp parts on, when they thread them they grease the pipes heavily, which is not good for clamping. And the reason these are probably your best choice is you can buy a few, get a few pipes one size, but if you need a longer just go buy another pipe, which isn’t nearly as expensive as getting the i-beam clamps.

Now if you are going to be doing this alot and can afford it, get the I-beam clamps, they are far better over time.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

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