What size Wood Clamps?

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by woodmaker posted 01-03-2013 06:04 PM 3691 reads 0 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch

That old saying you can’t have too many clamps is true. I have 6”, 12”, 24” and a few 36” right now but I’m needing more clamps for a book case project coming up.

Dimensions 8’ tall and 36-42” wide (can’t decide) most likely will build from Red Oak, with crown moulding up top.

Now, what size clamps do I need? Bar clamp or pipe clamps?

I saw 72” jorgesson I-bar clamps at Home Depot for $53.68 each, and I have a $200.00 gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket. 50” Bessey costs that much at Lowes. I figire I neeed a minimum of 4 clamps?

Is 72” too long; will I ever need a clamp that long or should I stop at 48”? I’m soooooooooooooooo confused right now.


-- Mike

21 comments so far

View TimN's profile


12 posts in 3456 days

#1 posted 01-03-2013 06:24 PM

Those would be great, but unless you are going to be building a lot of cases in that size, you may not use them much. I have 50” Jorgensens, and then pipe clamps. Beauty of pipe clamps is that you can always switch out longer pipe. You can also just couple two shorter pieces to make whatever length you need. If this is a one time project, or if money is an issue, get some pipe clamps. If you are going to be doing a lot of case work this size, then the bar clamps or parallel clamps are great. But you can always use pipe clamps. Every shop should have a few pipe clamps in their clamp inventory.

View helluvawreck's profile


31030 posts in 2861 days

#2 posted 01-03-2013 06:43 PM

I’m thinking that you’ll need 6 clamps if you have three stationary shelves. You can have only two stationary shelves. However, whenever I build full size bookcases I always have 3 stationary shelves. It just seems to make for a sounder bookcase to me.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View rkober's profile


137 posts in 2286 days

#3 posted 01-03-2013 06:49 PM

Right now I have the 24”? and 48” Bessey clamps. I then bought the coupler to join clamps when I needed longer clamps. I like it because I have the shorter clamps that I use all the time but can take care of the long jobs as well fwiw.

-- Ray - Spokane, WA - “Most people don’t recognize opportunity because it’s usually disguised as hard work.” - Unknown

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2104 days

#4 posted 01-03-2013 06:53 PM

Once clamps get longer than around 60”, I greatly prefer aluminum bar clamps.

Pipe, parallel jaw, and steel bar clamps get HEAVY when they get that long. Lighter clamps are far easier to get into proper position on larger casework, especially without a helper. Also, once you get that long, parallel jaw clamps don’t stay as parallel as we’d like to believe, so the extra money spent on them doesn’t return much.

My favorites are “Universal” brand, I think they’re even made in Iowa. They’re sold at many sources, including Woodcraft and Tools for Working Wood.

View woodmaker's profile


321 posts in 2685 days

#5 posted 01-03-2013 11:32 PM

I’m thinking I wouldn’t clamp the full 8’ just across the shelf areas; so my thought this evening is 48” clamps about 6 of them. I agree on pipe clamps as they can get heavy and they tend to mar the wood. I will be doing more casework as time goes on.
Once I retire I would like to be able to build period furniture; but that is going to be awhile; I’m 62 and my “Full” retirement age is 66. :-)

Thanks for all the comments!

-- Mike

View Grandpa's profile


3259 posts in 2669 days

#6 posted 01-04-2013 01:17 AM

I have some 6 ft pipe clamps and use them. Not many but once in awhile I need one or two of them. I keep pipe so I can has some more of them.

View derosa's profile


1577 posts in 2830 days

#7 posted 01-04-2013 02:46 AM

A 72” clamp isn’t going to reach on the 8’ length so you’re better off going with the 48” ones for the case. Only issue is that Home Depot isn’t that cheap on these. I buy mine at and hunt around for a free shipping coupon. To do the 8’ section if you have a floor that is ok to damage you could bolt a cross board to the floor with another at just over 8’ away. Lay your case in between for glue up and use some wedges between the case and one of the cross boards to clamp it together. I’ll be doing this for a headboard as I don’t see me needing 84” clamps often enough to bother buying them. The Jorgensens are universal clamp co and made in the US, I’ve got some, want more and think they’re great. Just don’t plan on attaching more then 4 or 5 of them and then plan on moving the piece. The weight adds quickly.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

View pintodeluxe's profile


5653 posts in 2807 days

#8 posted 01-04-2013 05:20 PM

Despite building large projects, I rarely find the need to span 72” with clamps. My standard shop clamps are 48” pipe clamps. They are a little cumbersome for some projects, yet they always work. If I were just starting a clamp collection, I would get a few bessey pipe clamps (“H” clamp head) and 1/2” 4’ black pipe.
They can be linked together with a metal threaded fitting, which works well for the rare occasion where long clamps are needed. From there add some 2’ pipe clamps or parallel clamps.

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

View thedude50's profile


3603 posts in 2472 days

#9 posted 01-04-2013 06:00 PM

i prefer the bessey K body revo to the Jorgenson as far as that goes but you cant pay at lowes with a home depot card . I have a few long clamps for holding ends onto the tops of table. however anything over 50 inches rarely gets used in my shop and if you need longer clamping bessey sells a add on kit so you can join two 50 inch clamps I think most high end clamps work fine i just prefer Bessey I am sure you wont mind an orange clamp in the rack If you really need the clamp for a big project buy it. you can never have enough clamps

-- Please check out my new stores and

View DocSavage45's profile


8547 posts in 2837 days

#10 posted 01-04-2013 06:18 PM

Will you be building more large projects like the book case? I like the idea of pipe clamps and different length pipe as identified before. Jorgenson makes a nice clamp. Just checked them out at Menards. (Like Home Depot) Just my home away from home..LOL!

I used the Jorgenson clamps to make my heavy duty bench frame. Didd’t realise how much they bent with torque. I have a friend who has been working for some time in wood. Likes pipe clamps. Can use cauls?

Depends on where you spend your money. I only buy “cheaper” tools when I’m pretty sure it’s limited usage, And sometimes I’m wrong. LOL!

K clamps are great for bench projects and I have seen creative use of jigs for Jorgenson bar clamps.

Just my two cents cause that’s all I can afford right now…LOL!

Depending on time and money you could make your own clamps out of 2×4’sand 2×8” using similar design to bessy clamps?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View woodmaker's profile


321 posts in 2685 days

#11 posted 01-07-2013 08:33 PM

Well, with the HD gift card I bought 4ea 48” jorgesson clamps and 2ea 36” clamps
With the Lowes gift card I bought 2ea 50” clamps
I built a nice clamp rack for them Sunday so now they have a nice home and not laying about.
Hopefully I have enough clamps now to do the book cases and etc.

-- Mike

View thedude50's profile


3603 posts in 2472 days

#12 posted 01-10-2013 09:02 PM

nice start your on your way I try to buy a pair of clamps every month some big on good months some small on bad months

-- Please check out my new stores and

View woodmaker's profile


321 posts in 2685 days

#13 posted 01-10-2013 09:15 PM

Yep, it is a good start but I have a lot of other clamps not in the picture, my most used clamps are attached to my assembly table and in easy reach; you know the 6”, 8”, 12”, 24” and smaller spring clamps.

I priced the 50” Bessey on Woodcraft and they were $71.00 each, I paid less than $50.00 at Lowes, plus I got a 10% military discount (military retiree). I ain’t pasing that up. :-)

BTW if you don’t know it, Home Depot and Lowes will give active duty and retired military this discount, just ask and show your ID Card.

-- Mike

View Rex B's profile

Rex B

320 posts in 2245 days

#14 posted 01-10-2013 09:41 PM

Congrats on your new clamp purchases. I’m sure they will come in handy in the future.

I just wanted to point out for others that may come across this thread that there are always work-arounds for clamping across long distances, for example:

(images borrowed from around the web, mostly

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that if you’re a person who mostly works on small projects and need to do one large project, buying huge clamps isn’t the only option. However, I in no way mean to belittle your recent clamp purchase.

-- Rex

View woodmaker's profile


321 posts in 2685 days

#15 posted 01-11-2013 12:19 AM

Rex, no offense taken, and thanks for those tips you added.
I don’t picture myself doing a lot of long-distance clamping just yet. I’m still a rookie, but my desire is to build reproduction furniture (period pieces) but I’ve got a long way to go yet.

-- Mike

showing 1 through 15 of 21 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics