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It probably seems as though the list of workshop tools is endless. While there are some that you might consider to be extra, there are others that are an imperative part of your workshop and that you should not do without. The clamp is one of them.
These are versatile pieces of equipment that help you to safely and precisely work on your chosen material. Without a clamp, you would find it massively difficult to do many things but what confuses a lot of newcomers to woodworking is that there are so many different kinds. While this might feel a little overwhelming, it is important to familiarise yourself with the different types of clamps. Each has its own purpose and will serve you in a different way.
For this reason, we have put together a list of the most important workshop clamps that you simply cannot live without.
The Importance Of Clamps In The Workshop
We have already stressed the importance of having clamps in your workshop and when you begin to understand how versatile they are, this becomes blindingly obvious. Your clamps will help you to work much more safely but will also make life so much easier, allowing you to work with both hands without having to hold your wood at the same time.
Holding Material Whilst Glue Dries
If you have ever tried to glue material together without using a clamp, then you’ll know that it just won’t bond as well; if at all, depending on what you’re glueing. Now, you could sit and hold the pieces tightly while the glue sets, but nobody wants to do this.
It’s time-consuming and quite frankly, boring and uncomfortable. What’s more, most of us wouldn’t have the same consistent pressure as a clamp which will hold the pieces together while the glue dries.
Dry Assembly Of Parts
When assembling products without glue, you’re going to need a way of ensuring that everything stays together. This is an important step in any project as it will help you to determine that everything is going to fit together correctly.
The last thing you want is to glue your materials together only to then find out that your plan didn’t work out as intended. Dry assembly will help you to make sure that your project is everything you expected and your clamps will aid massively in this.
Holding Material On A Workbench
Working with wood involves a lot of little intricacies and you’ll find that you need a lot of tools to get everything done. A single piece of material may need to be cut with a saw before performing more precise work like planing and chiselling.
If you are trying to do any of these things on a free piece of wood then you’ll find that the material moves around. This makes it much more difficult to work on the wood not to mention the fact that your safety will be massively compromised. Using a clamp to hold the material in position on the workbench as you do what you need to is of the utmost importance.
Types Of Clamps
Now that we understand the importance of using clamps, it’s time to get to grips with some of the most important ones. You may find it useful to invest in a selection of clamps so that you have something for every occasion.
As its name may suggest, a bar clamp features a metal bar and this is designed to stand up to the pressure of working with heavy or large pieces of material. It’s ideal for heavy-duty clamping since the metal bar is typically made from steel, making it very strong and durable. This bar is also very long which means the clamp is much more easily able to hold wider pieces of material.
You’d normally use bar clamps in sets of two, unless you are working on a very big project, in which case, you may need to use more. Each clamp will be placed along the width of the stock depending on how you need to secure it.
Normally, this type of clamp is used for woodworking but it isn’t uncommon to see it being used in metalwork as well. The bar clamp is perfect for making things like doors, cabinets and furniture as it allows for precision when joining pieces together. In terms of glueing things perfectly, this should be your go-to clamp. However, if you’re working on a smaller project, a bar clamp may not be the most practical solution.
A sash clamp is a type of bar clamp and is probably the most commonly used one. It features a long bar with two jaws and while its design is simple, it’s certainly a very useful tool. The jaws can be adjusted in two ways; one slides along the bar while the other remains connected to a screw. Along the length of the bar, there are perforations that are designed to keep the jaw in place using a peg while clamping.
There are many different types of vise but their purpose is very similar. This type of clamp is used to hold an item securely while you work on it. For woodworking, you will need a woodworking vise although there are also those designed for metalwork.
Whether you are working in construction, engineering, manufacturing or DIY, the vise is one of the most common tools you will use. Pretty much all models work in the same way; clamping the workpiece into place using a set of jaws. Once in position, you can chisel, cut, saw or work on the material in various ways.
Generally speaking, a vise will either be fixed or portable. The portable ones can be moved and then attached to your workbench in any suitable location. On the other hand, a fixed vise, often called a permanent vise has to be bolted to the surface. The benefit of this is that the vise is much more heavy-duty.
F clamps are, as you might imagine, shaped like the letter F. Two shorter horizontal jaws are connected to one long vertical bar. Many would agree that this type of clamp worked in a similar way to the G clamp owing to the fact that there is one moveable jaw and one fixed. The main difference is that the F clamp can open much more widely.
These are incredibly heavy-duty tools and can take a lot of pressure meaning that they are ideal for larger pieces of material. In DIY, the F clamp is frequently used when glueing stock together as the wide jaws allow you to hold pieces together parallel as your glue dries.
You may sometimes hear the C clamp being called a G clamp, but they’re one of the same things. They are versatile in that they can be used with both wood and metal and, much like the F clamp, it gets its name from its shape.
This clamp features a screw design that allows you to secure irregular shapes. What’s more, the C clamp comes in a wide range of sizes so you can find one that perfectly matches the size of your project.
There are different types of corner clamp and each comes in very handy, depending on what you are trying to achieve.
If you need to clamp two pieces of material together at a right angle, then naturally, a right angle clamp is going to be your best bet. This is ideal when adding shelving into a cabinet, for example. The clamp is designed to hold the material together during glueing and offer excellent precision.
There is also the angle clamp which is used when creating joints. Whether you’re creating a butt joint, a mitre joint or a T joint, this is an essential tool to free up your hands and join the material accurately. You’ll often use this clamp when making things like bookcases and picture frames.
The band clamp is normally used when assembling things made from wood, plastic and non-ferrous metals which might include copper, stainless steel and aluminium. It is possible to use them when working with ferrous metals but the shape may be affected if the clamp isn’t in just the right position.
This type of clamp features a long strap that is used to hold the material in place and works very well with irregular shapes or larger pieces. The strap goes around the entire piece and is incredibly flexible. Once in place, the strap will lock as you tighten it making this one of the most consistent types of clamp.
Quick Grip Clamps
If you’re in a pinch for time and need a clamp that can be used quickly then the quick grip clamp might be just what you’re looking for. They can be used with one hand and are typically made up of one sliding jaw and one fixed jaw. There is also a lock that stops the clamp from opening once in position.
One of the great things about the quick grip clamp is its versatility; you’ll be able to use them for creating joints as well as for glueing, not to mention how easy and fast they are to use.
When you’re in the workshop, there are a lot of tools you will need and there aren’t many that are as important as the clamp. Coming in a wide range of types, these versatile pieces of equipment ensure that you can work safely and easily with your chosen material. They’ll hold stock still while you’re cutting, planing or chiselling and will be a massive help when it comes to dry assembly. There are many other things your clamps are invaluable for and one you start using them to their full potential, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without them.