Before we even get started on this post, I want to point out that YES, I know this list is subjective. Yes, I know what different clamps do, and why it is important to have a variety of clamps. But right now, I’m just talking about the 3 most useful/used clamps at the shop. These three clamps are versatile, easy to use, and can be found at pretty much any woodworking/big box store.
So maybe for clarification, I should have titled this post “The 3 most Versatile and Useful Clamps That Are Also Readily Available For Your Purchase and Use”. I feel that’s a bit long.
#1 The Spring Clamp
The spring clamp is one of the most helpful clamps to have around. They are extremely versatile and come in so many sizes. I use them a lot when I don’t have anyone to help me…they become like a third hand. If you need to glue up a small project…BOOM spring clamp. Need to hold a project to the table…BOOM spring clamp. Want to learn some new words…BOOM accidentally get your finger in a spring clamp! The spring clamp though is not great for bigger projects, and if your project needs to stay perfectly still, spring clamps might not be the best option. But to just hold something relatively still, a spring clamp works like a charm.
#2 Squeeze Clamp
Some people like to call this a one-handed bar clamp, but I don’t…it’s too long. Squeeze clamps are the next step up from spring clamp and are just as easy to use, just place the jaws on one side of your project and start squeezing. The beauty of the squeeze clamp is that they are powerful, light and only require one hand for use. The squeeze clamp is perfect for glueing up small projects, or if you really need to hold something in place. The squeeze clamps are still a relatively small clamp, usually measuring out between 18 and 24 inches. If you need to clamp up something bigger, you’ll need the next clamp.
#3 The Pipe Clamp
The pipe clamp is the big daddy of them all. These clamps are heavy, bulky, and rugged. They’re the semi-truck of the clamp world. When you need to hold something in place, or your glue ups NEED to stay put, the pipe clamp is your answer. The pipe clamp requires some assembly, usually you have to buy the pipe and clamp components separately, but you can find everything you need at your local big box hardware store (and some mom and pop shops!). The pipe are sometimes too bulky for small projects, but they work really well on large projects like tables and cabinets.
And today’s tip also includes pipe clamps…
What do you do if you have a long project that needs to be glued together? Probably freak out, cry and give up. WRONG! You clamp the pipe clamps together.
It can be a little tricky at first and you need to be careful when tightening that you do it somewhat evenly or it can slide your project around. But this is a nice little method to glueing up longer projects like countertops or life-size wooden cutouts of your favorite NBA star.
So those are our favorite clamps. Remember, there are more out there and each does serve its own purpose, so its best to research more if you are looking for something specific. But, these three clamp styles will always be useful for a wide range of projects.
What say you?