Checked and updated on November 10, 2020 by Aaron Barnett
The best wood clamps have a quick-release tensioning system, that can hold extreme pressure and weight. For building and DIY work Irwin quick grips are the most popular and are the most affordable option. For woodworking, you want a more ridged throat that has a more precise ability to adjust the tension on your wood joins. So this means that Bessey makes the best woodworking clamps.
The best metal clamps have a vise-grip mechanism that allows strong clamping power on even hard surfaces. Metal clamps need to also be made to withstand heat and built to last with more aggressive work. Make sure to use both metal corner clamps for miter joins and the right sized G clamps for other jobs in your workshop as mentioned below in this review.
Best Bessey clamps [For woodworking]
#4 Best Bessey F wood clamp
Bessey GSCC2.524 24-inch clutch wood clamp
#5 Best Bessey woodworking clamp
Bessey LM2.004 lm wood clamp
Best Irwin clamps [For building]
#3 Best Irwin quick grip clamps
Irwin quick-grip builder clamp 4 pack, (2) 6-inch, (2) 12-inch, 140 lbs
#4 Best Irwin DIY quick grip clamp
Irwinquick-grip DIY wood clamp, heavy-duty, 18-inch 600 lbs
Best pipe clamp
Best Corner Clamp
Best metal clamp
Best metal corner clamp
Clamps are the most underrated pieces of equipment in the workshop. They aren’t used for cutting, boring, smoothening, or shaping, but they are just as important as other tools. You can never have enough clamps, as they free your hands and take out a lot of frustration as they do all the heavy pushing and pulling work for you.
Clamps can be used for a wide range of jobs, from keeping work-pieces in place to holding glued pieces together while drying. They can even take the place of an extra hand or two when you need to do complex work like when your trimming circles and curves with your makita cordless jigsaw.
Clamps typically have two “jaws”, one of which remains in a fixed position. The other jaw moves along a rail as you adjust and tighten it. Clamps generally fit into different categories depending on the system used for tightening the moveable jaw.
There are many different types of clamps, each of which specializes in certain jobs. Bessey twist-type clamps are good choices for woodworking, given their ability to hold tight without slipping. For building work, I highly recommend Irwin quick-grip clamps for their fast clamping action, and their ability to push as well as pull.
Many DIY’ers have at least two clamps in each major tool category, builders normally have too many to count.
Woodworkers or metalworkers may only have one or two hammers, for example, or only a single saw. But that minimalist approach doesn’t apply when it comes to clamps. You need to have several clamps in different sizes and designs to cover every possible job.
When it comes to clamps, you really can’t have too many in your toolbox as they save lots of time and hassle.
Features to consider first
Think about the clamp jaws size.
Make sure to get jaws that are the right size for the type of work you have to do. Jaws that are too small can damage the surface of your workpiece, while large jaws may not provide enough concentrated clamping power where you need it.
Go for a high rated clamping pressure.
Different types of clamps put out different amounts of pressure. You will usually need the most pressure when putting together edge-to-edge joints. When joining perfectly-fitting pieces, you may not need as much pressure. For building work, you might want to push or pull timber that you cannot move manually by hand that’s when the big Irwin clamps help.
When using clamps to support your work, the integrity of a clamps holding power is essential to avoid damage to yourself or your workpiece.
For example, imagine you are using metal clamps to support a steel-beam that you are cutting with your grinder tool, you want to trust that the clamp that you are using will hold under the pressure.
Another example, if you are doing delicate carving work, you want to make sure your woodworking are clamps holding your work steadfast without worrying about slipping when applying pressure from your carving chisels on your work.
Make sure to have enough throat-depth.
This refers to the distance that the jaws have to reach over the work surface. Working with wider wood often requires greater throat depth so that the pressure is also distributed more evenly over your work surfaces.
Opt for an easy tensioning mechanism.
The clamp mechanism or action determines how much pressure you can get and how long it takes to engage the clamp. Clamps that have threaded bars and cranked handles are easy to use while still providing lots of pressure.
When to get a Bessey clamps?
For working with thick slabs of wood, what you need is a clutch-style clamp. Bessey makes excellent woodworking clamps that have as much as 24 inches of space between the jaws. With this much clearance, you can clamp together even thick pieces that other clamps would not be able to work with.
Many clutch-style clamps have metal plates that are tightened along a rail. This design limits the amount of pressure that you can apply, so they may not be suitable for heavy-duty clamping jobs. But Bessey’s GSCC2 should work for most tasks, with up to 600 pounds of clamping power available. Although it still has the clutch design, it is much stronger than other types of clutch-style clamps.
Bessey clamps are pretty much the gold standard for professional woodworkers and cabinet makers. Their metal clamps are also popular choices among welders and steel fabricators.
Bessey was founded in Germany in 1889, and quickly become known for its clamping and cutting solutions. Over the years, the company became the leading manufacturer of precision steel products and tools in the world. Now in its 130th year, Bessey is still known for innovative and well-built products using the highest quality materials.
When to get Irwin clamps?
Irwin is another popular manufacturer of tools and building gear. Irwin quick release clamps are good choices for novice DIYers and experienced builders because they can be tightened and released quickly. Irwin quick grip clamps are also able to bear and pull/push a lot of weight and can serve as second–and even third–hand for builders and DIY workers.
The small Irwin clamps can also be used to hold straightedges without over-tightening them and damaging the straight edge. The larger 550-pound and 900-pound models can pull a lot of weight with minimal user effort.
Irwin has always been known for its innovative products, beginning with the founding of the company in 1885. In its nearly 120 year history, the company continues to produce quality handheld and power tools.
Best clamps for woodworking?
Both K and F clamps have an advantage over G clamps as they have much more able to do different types of jobs. Both have an adjustable end-piece to push or pull. Remember though that the k clamp can do even more than an F clamp.
Bessey F And K are the best clamps for woodworkers, Bessey can also take a hex key for more spreading and tightening above what you can do by hand.
Miss Bessy F can only move one jaw, the other jaw is fixed in place. The revolutionary Mrs. Bessey k is more-able and can move both her jaws on the rod.
If you are a serious woodworker you might want more serious output from Bessey K.
When to use a G-clamp instead
G-clamps (also known as twist-type clamps) are useful as cabinet clamps and for holding together work-pieces and preventing them from slipping. This is especially important when gluing together joins.
G clamps are more simple than F and K clamps and there is less you can do with them. G clamps are never a favorite go-to clamp but because they can be cheaper to buy, they are handy to have around, to use as extra holding support when you need additional wood clamps for a big gluing job.
When to use a wood corner clamp
Other types of clamps that you will find useful for woodworking are corner clamps, which are also known as “miter” clamps. These are often used for assembling furniture and building shelves. corner clamps are for joinery work, and not needed for building and construction work.
When to use a pipe clamps
Pipe clamps have large openings that make them excellent choices for woodworking. They are also frequently used for metalwork. Old school builders use pipe clamps for building work, but the new clutch style clamps work much faster with more pulling power.
Best clamps for builders?
Irwin clamps are the best for building and DIY work. If you regularly work with a skill saw, a clamp will let you work more efficiently, reduce the risk of injury, and damage to the work-piece. By using a good quality clamp to secure the work-piece as you are cutting, you will have both hands free to hold on to your saw.
It is often a good idea to have at least two clamps. For example, when installing a barge board having two clamps will allow you to secure both ends without fixings giving you time to get the positioning right. By attaching a clamp to each end of heavy boards, you could do a two-person job single-handedly.
A good trick for this is to also use the Irwin clamp horizontally as a ledge to sit boards directly onto.
Irwin quick-grip clamps [900 lbs pull power]
You can use larger quick-grip clamps to secure your work-piece. Clamps will provide a more secure grip than you ever could achieve by just using your hands. The larger models that are capable of 900 pounds of pull power can even be used to move walls.
For heavy-duty work, I recommend the Irwin Bar Clamp 18 One-Handed 3-3/4. You can undo the end of these models and twist it around so that the clamping mechanism pushes instead of pulling. The Irwin models that have 900 pounds of power are especially useful for building and DIY work.
Irwin quick-grip clamps
A smaller Irwin grip can help secure straight edges for cutting, but they aren’t really suitable for securing large and heavy workpieces. Small quick-grip clamps can also be used to secure skill saw guides so that you can avoid damage to your straight edges, that bigger clamps can do.
Use a manual hand winch when more power is neeeded
For some tasks, you might need even more pulling power than a clamp can provide. If you have to pull a lot of strong walls down, it might be necessary to use a truck ratchet or a manual hand winch instead of a clamp.
As with large clamps used for tearing down walls, make sure to get one that is capable of 900 pounds of pulling power.
Best clamps for metalwork?
C-clamps are the most popular types of metal vise grip clamps for many reasons. They are simple and easy to use, inexpensive, and extremely versatile. Anyone who is just starting out with metalwork and DIY work should have a few different sizes of C-clamps in their toolbox.
In general, it would be best to avoid clamps that have plastic parts or runners that can melt when the heat is indirectly exposed.
Metal corner clamps
Make sure to pick up a couple of corner clamps as well. Commonly known as “miter clamps”, corner clamps are useful for holding corner metal pieces together. They are often used for assembling corners that will be used to bear heavy loads.
Never be short on clamps!
Clamps can make a lot of woodworking and metal crafting tasks a lot easier, whether you are a DIYer or a pro. They can help prevent damage to your work-piece, and more importantly, protect your hands when cutting timber using your compact circular saw or planing timber down with your electric hand planer .
In most cases, they can even provide you an extra hand or two, allowing you to single-handedly perform tasks that would typically require two or more people. Or to stabilize straight edges and guides for your woodworking routers.
Clamps are cheap enough that it makes sense to have several types around. It’s always a good idea to have clamps that can handle light as well as heavy loads for different tasks. You will also need several clamps if you want to hold wide work-pieces together for gluing.
Tips for using clamps
Always work on a flat surface. Working on buckled or warp surfaces can throw out your clamp, which could result in twisting. For best results, many woodworkers opt to use a cast-iron table. However, the big Irwin clamps have adjustments to clamp work on a slight angle.
Not all work-pieces require the same amount of pressure. Always make sure that the clamp you are using provides enough pressure for the job you are doing. For example, if you are gluing slabs of wood together for your tree table, you want clamps with maximum clamping power, more info here.
Too little pressure can cause glued work-pieces to slip or fail to stick properly. Apply too much pressure with a metal end piece on timber and you risk damaging the work-piece.
To keep the work-pieces from twisting, place your clamps in alternate over and under positions. This is especially helpful when gluing large laminated boards together.
Bessey and Irwin are the highest quality clamps you can get. I recommend the Bessey KR3.524, which is a strong and durable 24-inch wood clamp that keeps work-pieces perfectly parallel when gluing and assembling panels for woodworking.
I also recommend at least two Irwin Bar Clamps, an 18-inch model that provides 900 pounds of pressure for building work. These two pieces should give you a good start to your clamp collection that you can add to as your needs grow.
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My name is Aaron, and welcome to Bangingtoolbox.
As a qualified builder and DIY’er, my goal with Banging Toolbox is to provide the #1 building and DIY resource on the internet for my readers.
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