What kind of clamps do I need?

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Forum topic by Texchappy posted 05-01-2012 02:50 PM 3616 views 1 time favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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252 posts in 2190 days

05-01-2012 02:50 PM

As the title says, I need clamps. I have some small Irwin clamps and one that’s a little bigger – IIRC ~ 8 inches. At first I won’t need to big as I plan on doing small boxes (no bigger than 30” in the longest direction). I’m surprised at the number of kinds of clamps available. So any suggestions on what I need? I would prefer American made (followed by European, and no Chinese).

-- Wood is not velveeta

16 replies so far

View BigYin's profile


414 posts in 2386 days

#1 posted 05-01-2012 03:02 PM

you need all of them, you will never have enough.
make your own its cheaper and fun

-- ... Never Apologise For Being Right ...

View Texchappy's profile


252 posts in 2190 days

#2 posted 05-01-2012 03:05 PM

Got the never needing enough – but where do I start? I can’t afford to get all the possible variations at the same time. After getting my saw and such I’ll barely be able to afford a few – lol.

-- Wood is not velveeta

View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3547 days

#3 posted 05-01-2012 03:11 PM

If all your going to make is small boxes then a dozen or so of inexpensive Harbor Freight clamps will do the job.

If your budget allows then on the other end of the scale I would recommend Jet Pareallel clamps

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Mosquito's profile


9280 posts in 2262 days

#4 posted 05-01-2012 03:12 PM

Depends on what you’ll be using them for, I suppose…

I’ve got a handful of cheap 36” speed clamps (Chinese made), and some Jorgensen parallel jaw clamps (Made in USA). The Jorgensens are nice, work well, and would work well for panels and boxes, depending on how they’re shaped, I suppose.

I typically buy a clamp or two every now and then when I’m at the box store for anything, slowly amassing a collection of clamps, and spread out the hurt, so to speak. Doesn’t feel so bad having $200 worth of clamps, when you’ve bought them over a 2-month span, than it does to sink $200 on clamps all in one shot, I hear you there! lol

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View dbhost's profile


5705 posts in 3201 days

#5 posted 05-01-2012 03:25 PM

If your requirements are American or European made, plan to hit the Swap Meets, and Craigs List. There is very little these days that isn’t sourced out of a Sampan in China…

There are a few out there though… The “Jack Clamp” is one,

So for made in the USA, you might want to do some googling around to see what you find…

As far as clamp types. It all depends on the work you want to do. But for sure you will want..

#1. F type bar clamps in a range of sizes. I have 6”, 12”, 24” and 36” in my clamp collection. #2. Spring clamps. The kind that look somewhat akin to a giant clothes pin I guess is how you could describe them… #3. Corner clamps. I use these all the time, They help me keep things square as I assemble boxes… #4. Ratcheting bar clamps. Irwin Quick Grip is the primary example that comes to mind. #5. Parallel bar clamps. I don’t own any, but A LOT of guys swear by these…

Good luck with whatever way you decide to go!

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2940 days

#6 posted 05-01-2012 03:34 PM

+1 for Jim’s recommendation.

Those HF bar clamps will get you going and then you will be able to determine what is next. If you want to stay with American made clamps, the Jorgensen bar clamps are about 2 or 3 times more expensive than the HF chinese clamps, but they are better built and stronger. I have a mix of both myself.

Shop built toggle clamps are great for small boxes also.

When you need bigger, more powerful clamps I think a good option is to buy 4 or 5 pipe clamps. You make these as long, or as short, as you need them by having several lengths of 3/4” pipe.

By the way, don’t waste your time with those HF pistol grip ratchet clamps. I bought a half dozen of those and they slip, and after a few uses the pivot point inside the handle breaks. I took some apart and found I could drill through the plastic handle in just the right place and replace the plastic pivot with a 1/4” bolt. That fixes the broken part, but they still slip. Just more hassle than they are worth.

Here’s a link to plans for some nice cam clamps. Some folks call these Luthier’s clamps.

View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3547 days

#7 posted 05-01-2012 03:37 PM

Here is a review I saw that is very helpful

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Texchappy's profile


252 posts in 2190 days

#8 posted 05-01-2012 03:41 PM

Jorgensen has another advantage for me, I can get it at home despot just about ten minutes away. I’ll start researching the home built clamps.

-- Wood is not velveeta

View helluvawreck's profile


30765 posts in 2836 days

#9 posted 05-01-2012 06:24 PM

You’ll always need more clamps and some of every kind. The best way is to start with what you can afford and slowly add the rest. For example, I thought that I had more than enough spring clamps. I keep my spring clamps in a couple of big bin boxes. I made two boxes with trays this past weekend and had to glue the bottoms to the two glued up trays. I figured that I had more than enough spring clamps to glue both up at the same time so they could be drying together. To my big disappointment I did not and it cost me some time. I made a mental note to buy some more the next time I go to Lowe’s. I believe that you’ll always need more clamps.


-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View pintodeluxe's profile


5626 posts in 2783 days

#10 posted 05-01-2012 06:28 PM

pipe clamps are a shop workhorse for me. I like the Bessey H style pipe clamps for panel glue-ups.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View vernonator's profile


75 posts in 2621 days

#11 posted 05-01-2012 08:26 PM

I find I use the F-style clamps most in small projects. Home Depot carries Jorgensen, both the cabinet clamps, the F clamps and pipe clamps and at fairly good prices. If you have a Menards in your area look for their ad with Jorgies on sale and take it to HD for an additional 10% off, I do this everytime I see the sale and have amassed a pretty good selection for a decent outlay

View chrisstef's profile


17312 posts in 2976 days

#12 posted 05-01-2012 08:36 PM

i found some cam clamps at a garage sale that are well over 100 years old and i swear i can squeeze blood out of a rock with those bad boys. Keep your eyes open at flea markets and tag sales.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2660 days

#13 posted 05-02-2012 02:40 AM

I really love my parallel jaw clamps but they are pricey. I bought all big ones with the thought that I can clamp a 6” box with a 4’ clamp but I can’t clamp a 4’ cabinet with a 6” clamp. The other indespensable clamps are my band clamps (Bessey brand but a ratchet strap will also work OK). I never use those square plastic corner thingys that come with the band clamps.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View rdjack21's profile


268 posts in 2897 days

#14 posted 05-02-2012 04:10 AM

I’m just starting out my collection of clamps but have decided that after serious sticker shock I may just make my own clamps. I have found quite a few that I like but one really stands out. I have not built any of them yet but will be after I finish getting a few more things ironed out in my shop.—Scroll down the page the clamp you want is version 2 it is really a pretty neat clamp and a unique solution to one of the main problems to shop built clamps.

-- --- Richard Jackson

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


932 posts in 2324 days

#15 posted 05-02-2012 04:29 AM

For all around starter out clamps, pipe clamps, when your in need of longer clamps, just buy new pipes. However make sure you get some mean green or greased lightening to degrease the pipes before you get them near the clamps.
When buying alluminum clamps, it’s best to get the pony clamps rather than the harbor freight, which may actually give out under pressure oddly enough.

The best clamps though are the heavy I-beam clamps, when you really need to torque down on something, there’s nothing that will beat them.

The wooden hand screw clamps from harbor freight suffice, they usually go on sale from time to time and you can get them relatively cheaply, if the wood goes bad, just replace.

Face frame clamps are awesome, and well I love them, they reduce the need for me to use nails in face frames which is awesome.

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

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