Clamps - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 09-10-2019, 03:00 PM Thread Starter
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Clamps

When I began hand-tooled woodworking, I "invested" in a series of Harbor Freight bar clamps of various lengths, like these: https://www.harborfreight.com/hand-t...ar-clamps.html

These are not high quality clamps, and I don't expect lifelong use. But I did improve them by inserting wood into the channels to increase rigidity, and glue 1/4" wood to the pads. They've worked great for the last few years. What I like about them is they are light, easy to manipulate, don't tend to damage my work, and they just do the job.

I've been recently considering buying better quality to replace them as they die. I've only looked in the big box stores, and what I find are generally very heavy and bulky in comparison. See https://www.homedepot.com/b/Tools-Ha...5yc1vZc266Zdep

Even the "clutch" type clamps seem very heavy and cumbersome.

What I get concerned about is that the weight of these "better" clamps can cause imbalance and possibly twist or otherwise damage a piece of work.

I'd like to know what kind of clamps you guys use. How do you like them, etc.
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post #2 of 13 Old 09-10-2019, 04:08 PM
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I have Bessy's and Jorgensen bar clamps as well as pipe clamps, C-clamps and spring clamps
The bessys are my first choice but some times they are to big and bulky.
Best to have an assortment.
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post #3 of 13 Old 09-10-2019, 07:29 PM
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Have HF and Bessey F clamps, Irwin one-handed clamps, and a few pipe clamps. For my next clamps, I'm thinking about making something like these.

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post #4 of 13 Old 09-11-2019, 01:40 AM
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There are a lot of clamps on the page you linked to, so I'm not sure which ones you are comparing to, but for smaller, lightweight clamps, I constantly use the disc style bar clamps. I have both Jorgenson and Bessey, both of which work very well, as long as you get the disc style. The Bessey friction style, which I had a couple of, didn't work very well. I don't find them to be at all cumbersome or bulky, especially as compared to pipe clamps. But I only use the 18" sizes. Beyond that, I go with Jorgenson pipe clamps.
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post #5 of 13 Old 09-11-2019, 08:20 AM
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Most woodworkers I know have many different clamps in many different styles, including me. I accumulated them over many decades. I buy clamps as I need them, and get by using the "wrong" clamp because it is good enough and does the job I need.

I don't like C clamps, especially not for woodworking, although I use them when I have to. Sometimes "have to" means "ran out of the other clamps that I prefer."

Another thing to keep in mind is that you do not need a lot of clamping pressure for most glue-ups. According to Titebond, you need only 5 pounds (PSI?) of clamping pressure for their wood glues. The clamp keeps the pieces in place and ensures a uniform thin layer of glue in the joint. Some people clamp so hard they starve the joint of glue and make it weaker than it should be.

Most of the time, those cheap one-handed ratchet clamps work best for me. They are easy to position and clamp with one hand. When I am clamping work to the table, I use the Besseys. That's when clamping power is useful.
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post #6 of 13 Old 09-11-2019, 08:38 AM
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The way i see it, clamps are stupidly simple devices weve had since shortly after humanity invented the screw. Not a lot of improvement to be made there, so very little difference between the cheap ones and the expensive ones.

That in mind, i just go to Harbor Freight and stock up. Several 4 inch C-clamps, 18 inch bar clamps and a few 1/2" pipe clamp fittings, all cheap and get the job done. May have to clean a spot of paint off a clamping face or oil a thread, but given that HR bar clamps are about $5 a piece and Besseys are $20 and they both get the job done equally well, well, the price works out

I need cheaper hobby
etsy.com/shop/projectepicfail
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post #7 of 13 Old 09-12-2019, 01:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by epicfail48 View Post
so very little difference between the cheap ones and the expensive ones...... and they both get the job done equally well,

I have to disagree with you on that. I have Jorgensons that have held up for 27 years. I have had HF clamps, and Besseys, that had the loose clamp face fall right off the screw. Probably 6 or 7 of them had that happen, all within 2 years of purchase. Pardon me, but screw that, I will buy clamps I can rely on.
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post #8 of 13 Old 09-12-2019, 03:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tool Agnostic View Post
Another thing to keep in mind is that you do not need a lot of clamping pressure for most glue-ups. According to Titebond, you need only 5 pounds (PSI?) of clamping pressure for their wood glues. The clamp keeps the pieces in place and ensures a uniform thin layer of glue in the joint. Some people clamp so hard they starve the joint of glue and make it weaker than it should be.

I've read this in a lot of places, and yet seen a lot of videos where woodworkers (including known ones) crrrraaaaannnnk those clamps down. And therefore I am frequently confused.


Question: when a clamp is listed as 48", does that mean it's 48" long or that it will accommodate a span of 48"?

Last edited by gj13us; 09-12-2019 at 03:04 PM. Reason: added the question
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post #9 of 13 Old 09-12-2019, 07:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gj13us View Post
Question: when a clamp is listed as 48", does that mean it's 48" long or that it will accommodate a span of 48"?
It's the span . . .
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post #10 of 13 Old 09-12-2019, 11:49 PM
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I like the universal bar clamps by
https://toolsforworkingwood.com/stor...sal_Bar_Clamps
have pipe clamps also, along with some heavy I beam clamps, c clamps, f clamps etc
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post #11 of 13 Old 09-13-2019, 01:57 PM Thread Starter
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I splurged on some 24" and 48" Dubuque clamps. Plan to get other sizes when the money is available.

Many good points were made. Thank you all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScubaDoog View Post
It's the span . . .
Certainly should be, but isn't always the case. For instance, the HF clamps are the total length, so you have to subtract a few inches. But the Dubuque are supposed to be the clampable span.
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post #12 of 13 Old 09-13-2019, 04:45 PM
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If you need me this weekend . . . I'll be in the shop measuring all my damn clamps now!😜
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post #13 of 13 Old 09-13-2019, 06:00 PM
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Good chuck on that. I like the bar clamps that have a trigger to tighten. Ease of use I guess but also hard to over tighten.
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