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    Basics of Clamps

    After “measure twice, cut once,” the most well-known woodworking saying is “you can’t have too many clamps.” And it’s true. But you can have enough clamps. For 90 percent of assembly jobs, called “glue-ups” by the veterans, a few sets of a few types of clamps will do the trick.

    The great thing about woodworking projects is that yellow glue works for almost every joint, and it is stronger than the wood itself—but only if the joint is clamped properly. And for that you need the right type of clamp, and not just one of them in most cases.

    There are many, many types, and you will collect lots of them over the years. But here are the ones to start with:

    For small workpieces and assorted clamping jobs of all kinds, you’ll need a set of small bar clamps, sometimes called F-style clamps based their shape. Get the medium- or heavy-duty models. They will last forever and work great.

    Small bar clamps

    Small bar clamps: Small bar clamps like these 8-in. models above are the workhorse of the shop. They can apply plenty of pressure directly onto joints, and they don’t move the workpieces out of alignment as you twist the handles.

    Quick-grip clamps

    Quick-grip clamps: Quick-Grip-style clamps are not as precise as bar clamps, but they let you keep one hand free to hold workpieces in place. Just a couple of these are all you need.

    Pipe clamp

    Pipe clamps: For long clamping jobs, like cabinets and bookcases, pipe clamps are the most affordable option. They attach to standard plumber’s pipe, and so can be made as long as you need. Get the 3/4-in. size, not the 1/2-in., because the pipe will be more rigid, and buy at least 4 sets—or 8 if you can afford them.

    Tabletop glue up

    In the photo above, a woodworker glues up a large tabletop from individual boards, using pipe clamps. Note how he alternates the clamps over and under the panel. That will keep the panel flatter. And he is using C-clamps to keep the ends of the boards level with each other.

    Parallel-jaw clamp: The BMW of woodworking clamps is the parallel-jaw clamp. They are expensive, but they do almost everything other clamps can do, plus a few things they can’t, like standing on end out of the way while the glue dries. You don’t NEED these, but it sure is nice to have at least four in the 3-ft. length.

    Box glue up

    Square glue ups: The jaws on parallel-jaw clamps are long and flat, so you need fewer clamps and they keep assemblies perfectly square. Also, glue won’t stick to the jaws, and the jaws won’t mar the wood.

    Flat panel glue ups

    Flat glue ups: And best of all, the jaws are parallel, which means this frame-and-panel door stays flat and true. What more can ask for in a clamp?

    Small C Clamps

    C-Clamps: A few C-clamps are worth having, too, and they don’t cost much. They fit into tight places, and are great for odd little jobs like attaching a temporary fence to the base of a router.



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    Jack Daniels writes:

    Your article had provided me with another point of view on this topic. I had simply no concept that things can possibly work in this ways as well. Thank you for sharing your opinion. Obat Asam Urat

    ashley danielle writes:

    Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon. Big thanks for the useful info.


    sheila steele writes:

    It is imperative that you have to start with the basic before using those complex equipments in making furnitures for your safety. - Feed the Children

    Farrell Mackennon writes:

    I have recently gotten myself into carpentry and woodwork, and it is a good respite from the usual electrical plumbing services that I attend to day in, day out. Doing carpentry and woodwork, it is essential to have a good wood clamp among your basic tools, and the best way to start educating yourself if you are getting into this is to read this blog/article. It is a good start. 


    It is good to keep tools and equipment at home even though not the entire set. They will surely come in handy should a problem crops up out of a sudden. This is especially true in cases of a pipe leakage that might cause a lot of waste. Thus, while waiting for the plumbers near Sydney to arrive, you can just DIY and try to alleviate the plumbing problem if you have the right set of tools. Do remember not to DIY anything if you are not confident enough, else you might cause more trouble instead.

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