Tag Archives: clamps

A Clamping Good Time

After I posted an entry a while back that pictured a few different clamp styles, I received a number of questions on what clamps I use and why I like them. This entry explains many of my choices and is a good primer on clamps – at least from my point of view.

IMG_0773First up are spring clamps. As you can see in the photo, I have a few different varieties on hand. I can say that all the springs clamps that look such as these have never disappointed me in use. I have run across a few plastic-handled spring clamps that ended up in the “don’t use” pile rather quickly. My favorite story about spring clamps is when I was demonstrating for the Sunflower Woodworker’s Guild in Wichita. I asked for a couple of spring clamps and was brought a five-gallon bucket full. As I looked at the full bucket, I asked, being a smart-ass, if there were any more available. Les Hastings, owner of the shop and host of the two-day seminar immediately showed me two additional buckets full of clamps. That shows you how useful these clamps really are. (Or maybe Mr. Hastings like them more than I do.)


When it comes to other clamps, I am partial to F-style clamps  but not in a big way. I have a few of these clamps in the shop. Mainly, these clamps hold jigs for me and occasionally I’ll clamp together a couple workpieces. IMG_0315I do have a favorite F-style clamp. Pictured above are two different clamps. Both are Bessey, but one has a smooth handle and the other (on the right) has a rubber grip. The rubber grip is way easier to use. I would go with that style when I need to make another purchase.

There is one additional clamp that I really like using. Also from Bessey is the Kliklamp. Technically, this is considered a lever clamp, but I use this just as I would F-style clamps. There are a few different sizes from which to choose, but the larger sizes I find a bit odd to use. Stay with the smaller sizes.

Lastly, and not because there are any less useful, are my pipe clamps. I began woodworking with these inexpensive clamps and still today find that I would use these for glue-ups over any other clamps available. To me these are blue-collar clamps that get the job done. And I can switch between pipe lengths if I need to to get the exact length needed for the job at hand. I have a wall of these clamps sitting in wait. You cannot ask more than that. Pipe clamps are easy to use and easy to store – clips used to hang brooms and garden tools, found in any hardware store, make excellent holders. I couldn’t glue up panels without them.


Those are my favorites. What clamps do you use?

Build Something Great!




Filed under Shop Tips

Handscrews: More than Clamps

IMG_0661I gonna bet that many of you reading this post do not have any of these clamps in your arsenal. You should. Handscrew clamps do not do a lot in my shop, but when I do put them to use, they work. My primary use of handscrews is to hold parts upright as I work. What they do not do, unless I have an odd setup to clamp or need a great amount of force, is clamp parts together. The combination of threaded rods and pivoting barrel nuts allows for large amounts of torque and for these clamps to move into odd shapes to grip and clamp.

IMG_0662The problem today, is that the handscrews we have available in most stores and online are not the same as the old clamps my Dad purchased 30 years ago. And not all old handscrews are worthwhile either – I hate handscrews with wooden dowel rods. I think they’re junk. At the right is a photo of a relatively new handscrew I have in the shop. A close look shows a mixture of wood dust and cobwebs. I don’t use these often.

I don’t know why these are so different. It may be the arrangement and location of the barrel nuts, or it could be that over time parts wear to make actions smoother. Whatever it is, I suggest you grab any old handscrews when your find them. I scout antique malls and old farm auctions – if I run across any this day and age. I’m sure you can find them if you hang out with old tool collectors, but those guys know the value and I doubt you get a steal.

Below are two examples of how I use handscrews. In the top photo I position the clamps to hold the clock waist sides vertical as I attach a face frame. (Yes, in the photo my face frame is already attached.) The bottom photo shows how you can use handscrews to hold something from moving. Clamps grip the case and butt against the front edge of my bench to make it easy to cut grooves for stringing.

IMG_0659IMG_0660If you have handscrews in your clamp arsenal, leave a comment to let me know how you use them and how much you use them while woodworking.

Build Something Great!



Filed under Hand Tools, Shop Tips