While shopping for your woodworking tools, have you ever wondered why wood clamps are so expensive? Well, there’s a simple explanation for that.
Wood Clamps are expensive simply because it’s made of metal. Also, manufacturers of high-quality wood clamps make sure to give every woodworker the toughest wood clamp possible. In addition to that, woodworkers use wood clamps longer without the need for replacement. So, supply and demand also affect the price.
There are many types of wood clamps for a specific use. In this article, we will discuss each class, other essential things in using wood clamps, and more reasons why they are expensive.
What Are Wood Clamps?
A wood clamp is a fastening device for holding your wood securely in place. Other than woodworking, it is also applicable in carpentry, furniture making, welding, construction, and metalworking. The purpose is to prevent movement or separation by applying inward pressure. There are many types of wood clamps, which we will discuss in a while, and each kind is for a specific purpose.
Why Are Wood Clamps So Expensive?
Wood clamps are expensive because they are made with high-quality materials – primarily steel, iron, or metal. It’s also because wood clamps are not consumable. Other woodworking accessories like sandpaper allow you to buy on an ongoing and relatively frequent basis. Buy one great clamp, and you will never have to buy another one – unless you need another kind of wood clamp. It can last for a lifetime.
What are the Different Types of Wood Clamps to Buy?
As mentioned, there are different types of clamps for various use, that come in different sizes. Wood clamps are one of the must-have tools for a woodworker to create quality in their masterpiece.
They are one of the essential tools in woodworking, so you’d probably have to invest in a set of wood clamps.
1. Trigger Clamps
Trigger clamps are small, lightweight, and handy. Usually, the length ranges from approximately 4″ to 12″. Trigger Clamps come in plastic pads around the jaws to reduce any risk of damaging your workpiece.
- When to Use This Clamp? Trigger clamps are perfect for small woodworks because the material used primarily is plastic. It’s specially designed to provide a handle or trigger that you can press to tighten or loosen the grip on your project quickly.
- How Many Should I Have? You should have at least four pieces of these trigger clamps. It’s always good to have a few pairs in case you need some extra. You’ll never know when you’ll need them.
2. C Clamps
These C-shaped clamps have been around for a long time. Metal is the primary component of C Clamps. They have a wide range of sizes as small as 1″ up to 12″ for home use. It can go more prominent for industrial applications. Moreover, C Clamps require you to turn a handle to tighten or loosen your workpiece.
- When to Use This Clamp? You can use it in clamping both softwood and hardwood. Just remember to use the most suitable size for your project.
- How Many Should I Have? Pick two to three C Clamps in different sizes. It’s nice to have these clamps primarily if you work on different workpieces with various sizes.
3. Pipe Clamps
These are the most heavy-duty clamps that you can buy, which only means that Pipe Clamps are sturdy. These clamps are interchangeable. You have to obtain the clamp and the pipe separately. It’s because there are multiple pipe lengths available for its clamp, but remember to purchase tubes with the same thickness to suit the clamp.
- When to Use This Clamp? 3/4-inch pipe clamps are suitable for larger jobs like making a glue-up for a tabletop or a raised panel cabinet door. It’s also ideal for edge gluing panels.
- How Many Should I Have? You only need one or two clamps and at least three pipes with sizes that are suitable for the braces. It’s always great to have some extras, especially if you’re working in both small or big workpieces.
4. Bar Clamps (F Clamps)
Bar clamps work like Pipe Clamps but in a smaller size. It looks like a letter “F” when they are on their sides. Just like C Clamps, Bar Clamps also have a turning knob to adjust the pressure of the grip on the material. They also have paddings on the jaw for protecting the wood from scratches or marks by tightening. You can choose from 6″ diameter and above.
- When to Use This Clamp? Bar Clamps or F Clamps are excellent for all-around use. Using 36″ bar clamps are also recommendable for various projects. They perfect for sticking table legs, turning blank or bent lamination.
- How Many Should I Have? Just like C Clamps, have at least two clamps that can hold tubes for approximately between 12″ and 24″ different sizes and lengths.
5. Parallel Clamps
These clamps are versatile and suitable for many uses. Parallel Clamps are heavy-duty and offer excellent clamping power, which makes it the best wood clamp. They also have large throats that can hold up to 3 to 4 inches of wood. It’s probably the most expensive kind of clamp, but it’s worth the price for what it offers.
- When to Use This Clamp? Parallel Clamps are great for clamping or gluing up boxes or cabinets. They can always ensure that your products are square because they form a 90-degree angle around both of the jaws.
- How Many Should I Have? Since Parallel Clamps are a bit pricey than other kinds of clamps, you should at least have one 24-inch parallel clamp. It would be suitable for any woodworking project. If your budget allows, you can also buy two of each for the 40″ and the 50″ ones for added versatility.
Choosing the Best Wood Clamp for Your Project
Since wood clamps are a bit expensive, choosing the best wood clamp for your project is wise; although it’s great to have various sets of it.
Knowing the right wood clamp for your project is an extraordinary part of improving your growth as a woodworker. So, here are things to consider in choosing the best wood clamp for your project.
- Know the Purpose
Determine what is your purpose in using wood clamps. Both bar and pipe clamps are perfect for clamping boards when your gluing edges. Meanwhile, F Clamps are versatile in many projects. It’s all about figuring the right size. Parallel Clamps are excellent for clamping wood to a bench while sanding or carving.
- The Metal Used in Clamps
The type of metal used in clamps affects the performance and results of your woodwork. For example– high-quality ductile iron, high-carbon steel, zinc, chrome plating, and anodized aluminum are stronger and the most durable. So, expect a premium price. Clamps with Metal plating adds resistance against rust.
- The Type of Wood You’re Going to Use
Sensitive kinds of wood or those that quickly get scratches require quality clamps with rubbers. It’s always safe to test its quality by merely scratching your fingernail lightly on the wood. Another trick that you can use is to place a piece of scrap wood between your workpiece and the clamp to avoid any scratches.
- The Handles of your Clamp
How the handle of the clamps feels in your hand also affects your work. As a rule of thumb, your clamp should always fit and feel right in your hand. It affects the way you hold and clamp it on your workpiece. The right kind of plastic and wooden handles will do just right, but Ergonomic handles are your best option – both in quality and longevity of use.
- The Amount of Clamping Force that You Need
One common mistake of many woodworkers includes under-clamping during glue-up. It results in inaccuracy in gluing woods. The key to clamping is simple – apply the right amount of clamping force for each type of wood.
Usually, dense and tight-grained woods require a higher clamping force. Less dense and less grained woods only requires a low clamping force. Additionally, consider the wood orientation – flatsawn or quarter sawn. It also determines the amount of clamping force needed.
How Much Pressure Do You Need to Glue Wood?
There’s no exact answer to this, and it all depends on your project. However, you mustn’t put pressure too much. Over tightening can cause small movements to your workpiece. Remember, wood clamps are for ‘holding’ your piece in place.
Another essential thing to consider is the softness of your wood. For example, you can ruin pine woods by over-tightening. If you’re working on sensitive material, it’s always better to put a cloth under your clamp pads until the glue dries. It’s to protect the wood to any dents or scratches.
To learn more about gluing wood, click here.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How Many Clamps Should I Use?
Use wood clamps as many as your project requires because you can never have too many or too little. Just make sure that it maintains consistency in all parts of the wood to avoid any weak spots.
What size Clamps do I need?
It also depends on your project. If it’s mostly about gluing and wood bending, you’ll probably need dozens of C or F clamps to ensure consistency. For smaller projects like cutting boards, four to six pieces of 24-inch pipe clamps are enough.
What are the Types of Clamps that I should Buy First?
If you’re starting, although it’s not a requirement, it’s always better to pick a couple of different clamps and test them before heavily investing in one type. You can start with C Clamps with sizes 4″, 6″, 8″, set of 4 Trigger Clamps, and a couple of 24″ Bar Clamps. You can invest later with a set of Parallel Clamps since they are the most expensive.
What Brand Should I Buy?
It depends on your preference, but the brands like Bessys, Jets, and Jorgensen have been the popular choice for most woodworkers. They’ve been making durable and reliable wood clamps for years. Remember, there are many kinds of wood with different characteristics that require specific clamping pressure – that’s where you should put your focus more than the brand.