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Discussion Starter #1
I've been on an "organizing my shop" kick lately, and I am a little fed up with the way that I have been storing my F clamps....so I was thinking that I should build a storage rack. Of course, if I am going to build a storage rack, it would be smart to make a floor standing thing that holds ALL of my clamps...including my bar clamps. More like a colossal, trojan horse sized rolling cart storage rack. I have also been considering whether or not I should upgrade from bar clamps to parallel clamps. I actually need more bar clamps...mostly for a project that I hope to be working on in a few months, but if parallel clamps are better, instead of buying more bar clamps, I should be buying those instead.
I need to figure this out before I work on the clamp storage "cart". (See how my brain works?? It's a wonder that I can ever get ANYTHING accomplished, isn't it?)

Sooo, my real question is: Do I need parallel clamps? Are they better than bar clamps? I'm just a hobbyist, but I realize the importance of having the best tools for the job at hand, and I am a bit of a "tool whore" (meaning that I appreciate owning good tools and have on occasion spent almost as much for a specific tool to work on a project than I would have paid to have the job contracted out!). In case you haven't guessed by now, I am also slightly anal retentive and OCD.
I have a small collection of bar clamps, some of which are 50+ years old (hand-me-downs from my father), but I will want to add several more. I don't own ANY parallel clamps, and they are AWFULLY expensive. I'm pretty sure that I can "get by" with the bar clamps, but I would like to know what the parallel clamps are used for, and if they are, why they are better than just plain 'ol bar clamps.

Thanks in advance, and sorry for the long post. I appreciate that you guys put up with me. :)

Brad
 

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not really a "one answer fits all" to your question.
I have a very assorted collection of clamps - I suspect most wood workers do.
certain styles and types make certain clamping jobs either (a) easier or (b) at all possible.

parallel clamps on a bar are supposed to exert even pressure over the clamp (pad) area.
supposed to - I suppose some of the best designs actually get close - but the cheap ones don't manage the task at all.

when you absolutely must have even pressure over a clamped joint, use a thick chunk of scrap wood and a $2 Harbor Freight clamp.....
 

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Discussion Starter #4
You should buy clamps based on needs. What kind of work you intend to do and projects coming up....
I agree. I do a lot of different things but the project that I was specifically speaking of would be cabinets. At first, a few different bathroom vanities, and then I want to make my own kitchen cabinets. One day, I hope to work on things like a bedroom set, but I am not "furniture grade" yet.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks Tom, but I get nauseous at the thought of buying pretty much anything from Harbor Freight....especially tools.....but I think I get the gist of what you are trying to tell me.

(Not meant to offend anyone who purchases stuff from Harbor Freight...don't send me hate mail!) 😁
 

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If I could reasonably afford parallel clamps, I would buy them. However, I can get 4 pipe clamps and the pipe for the price of 1 parallel clamp.
I never did have enough clamps.
The Harbor Freight bar clamps can be had for a reasonable price. They are far from being the best but are good for what they are intended for.
Starting a new shop a short while ago, I am clamp poor mainly because of not needing that many yet.
My immediate plan is to buy more pipe clamps and spend a good amount of money on the pipes themselves. Buy plenty of the pipes and interchange them with the clamps. At Home Depot, you pay for the pipe and the cutting and threading is free. For around $15 you can get 12' 3/4 inch black pipe then have it cut and threaded (one end) into several size pipes. If you need larger clamps, just buy larger pipe sections and swap the clamps.
 

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The Nut in the Cellar
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I agree this is pretty much a personal thing. I have been dong woodworking for nearly 40 years and have never used parallel clamps. I don’t think I’ve missed them (ignorance is bliss?). I have always had a small shop with not a lot of storage space, so things that do one or more things work best for me. I have 14 3/4” Pony bar clamps fitted with 24” pipes. I also have another 14 3/4” 24” long pipe extensions permanently fitted with unions wrapped in PVC tape. There are also 7 10” 3/4” pipe extensions also with extensions. These all store in a roll around cart That fits under my workbench when not needed. This arrangement gives me a lot of flexibility for clamping nearly any sized project. The cart also stores 4 6” quick grip clamps, 3 18” quick grip clamps, and a few other clamp things. There are pictures of the cart in my tool album here.
 
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I use my parallel clamps quite often. I like how I can adjust the jaws to even out the pressure OR move the pressure to the heel or toe of the clamp. Also there are times I have a clamping job where the outside surfaces are slightly out of parallel. Simple matter to adjust the angle of the jaws to match the work being clamped. Your mileage may vary. ;)

420779
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Hi Dave,

I have to remember that you have the sarcasm gene like I do. :rolleyes:

I should have been more specific...I was thinking about buying 50" parallel clamps.

:cool:
 

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Thanks Tom, but I get nauseous at the thought of buying pretty much anything from Harbor Freight....especially tools.....but I think I get the gist of what you are trying to tell me.

(Not meant to offend anyone who purchases stuff from Harbor Freight...don't send me hate mail!) 😁
What do you want us to think about the open mouth episode you just had?

George
 

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Discussion Starter #14
What do you want us to think about the open mouth episode you just had?

George
Well, George, I don't think that makes me look foolish...just particular. Some people like fish, some people don't. To each his own. I'm not going to get excited about what other people like or don't....it doesn't affect me.

Cheers
 

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About the only time I use parallel clamps is when I can't get a bar clamp to stay on a curved surface. I use doubled tape with sandpaper applied to the clamps to the two sufaces, then use bar clamps on the parallel clamps to glue the edges together. It is easier than cutting blocks to fit a curve
 

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The clamps that @Dave McCann shows in his photo are known around here as "handscrew clamps." Until now, I have never seen them called otherwise. It took me a while to appreciate them and their versatility, but now I use them often.

The clamp style shown in @Rebelwork's photo above are what I know as "parallel clamps." You can get them from a variety of manufacturers. I do not own any of them, partly because of cost and lack of storage space for them.

I have an assortment of clamps, but never quite enough of the type I need for the job at hand. I still use the same set of pipe clamps from the 1970s. They aren't broken yet.

Lacking a full set of every clamp that I need, I get by through improvisation. Sometimes I use boards as clamping cauls to "stretch" the utility of my clamps. On a recent project, I cut the project size down slightly (3/4 inch) from my original design, just so it would fit the clamps I planned to use.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks guys...

Yeah, the handswrew clamp had me a bit confused...thought Dave was pulling my leg.

Thanks TA and Redeared...I have had to improvise on quite a few things too, but in the back of my mind I would wonder what a pro would do. I think though...in some cases, that IS what a pro would do.

Rebelwork....I am one of those guys who has to fight off the desire to compulsively buy...you nailed it.

I think I'm going to plan my clamp storage colossal with room for a few more bar clamps, and more pipe clamps and call it good. I can probably get by without the parallel clamps just fine. Besides, I'll use the extra money to buy more wood so I can practice making firewood on my lathe! ;)

Cheers!

Brad
 
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