5 essential clamps

When you're in the middle of gluing up, there's no such thing as too many clamps. But using the right kind of clamp is just as important as having enough. Applied with sufficient pressure, the perfect clamp makes joinery a snap. Remember to dry-fit joints first, protect the wood's surface by padding your clamps, space them evenly on the workpiece and, if a joint feels like it's not fitting, don't fall prey to the temptation to crank the clamp just a little harder.

1. Handscrews have been around for centuries; earlier versions used wooden screws, although they're made of metal on modern ones like a No. 2 Jorgensen ($30). Handscrews excel at clamping irregular surfaces because the two jaws can be adjusted independently.

2. C-clamps are universal in woodworking because they're economical and versatile. C-clamps are made in a range of sizes, including this 2" Craftsman ($5) and 3" Adjustable ($5).

 

 

3. Bar clamps are another workhorse of the shop designed for a range of applications (Craftsman 24" Speed Clamp, red, $22). For edge-gluing and other large projects, choose a pipe clamp, which can be as long as the length of pipe you select (Pony Original 3/4" Pipe Clamp, orange, $17). In recent years, quick-action clamps have become popular, prized for their convenience. As with this Irwin Quick-Grip 12" One-Handed Bar Clamp/Spreader, many can be adjusted with one hand (blue, $29).

4. Special tasks require special clamps. A mitre clamp is ideal for corners on projects such as picture frames (Irwin Light-Duty Corner Clamp, blue, $29). An edge clamp applies even pressure to attach edge banding to a workpiece (Lee Valley Edging Clamp, silver, $14). A band or strap clamp is required when gluing odd-shaped pieces such as chairs (Lee Valley 16' Web Clamp and Web Clamp Corners, orange, $13).

5. Spring clamps or ratcheting clamps are perfect when you need light pressure to hold together small parts (2" Wilton Multi-Grip Ratcheting Clamp, blue, $4; Pony 2" Spring Clamp, orange, $3; Craftsman Mini Spring Clamp, black).


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