Clamping tools buying guide
Alice, Furniture Maker, Manchester10 guides
- Clamping power
How can clamping tools be classified?
There are two main types of clamping tools, which can be defined as:
- Assembly tools - to tighten two pieces together when assembling;
- Holding tools - to keep a piece in place while you work on it.
Six assembly tools...
Depending on your needs, you can choose between different presses and clamps.
- Panel press: consists of a set of parallel threaded rods, held at the ends by a square wooden or metal element, allowing you to press together wooden batons for bonding. Pressing height is about 1m on an average-sized model; length can be increased by adding as many rods as you need!
- Frame press: ideal for assembling decorative frames, these presses can work with a strap or a cord. In either case, this flexible element surrounds the frame assembly and, by means of four reinforced corners, consolidates the corners of the frame. Pressure is then applied by means of a ratchet mechanism.
- Bench clamp: as the name suggests, this tool is fixed to your workbench. It will keep a firm grip on any iron component (e.g. rod, flat iron) so you can machine it without risk - it's a sturdy workhorse! These clamps will accommodate fairly large pieces (up to 40cm).
- Quick-release clamp: this small, handy clamp lets you rapidly press two pieces together; super-practical in delicate situations! Pull the trigger and the jaws instantly lock.
- Spring clamps: these look like giant clothes pegs made of rigid plastic or metal. Very practical for gluing small pieces together, their aperture varies between about 2-7cm. However, clamping power is limited by the strength of the spring.
- Adjustable clamps: coming in different sizes and designs, these clamps are characterized by their aperture, clamping power and depth. They can be tightened by screwing (pump clamps, screw clamps, C-clamps) pinching (one-handed or quick-release clamps) or striking (masonry clamps).
Two holding tools...
Essential kit for any DIY enthusiast!
- Vice: the essential workshop tool. Made of hardened steel, with a rotating base and variable jaw aperture, it includes an anvil . Its role is to immobilize everything that passes between its jaws with a turn of arms. The clamping lever operates a screw, closing the movable jaw against the fixed jaw along a parallel slide. Other, more compact and portable models can be attached to a drill press table. These let you keep your pieces (e.g. planed timber, metal sections) dead still while you work on them. You can get angular jaws (90° angle) and U-shaped jaws (for round pieces such as tubes), generally made of hardened steel or aluminium. Some vices allow transverse clamping, while others are tiltable.
- Angle vice: also made of hardened steel, these are fixed to your workbench. An angle vice lets you lock two separate pieces together at right angles for assembly (i.e. welding etc). It also consists of a fixed and a movable jaw.
A final word of advice on clamping tools?
Apart from vices - an essential tool in any workshop - clamping tools should be chosen according to your specific needs and DIY plans.
Learn more about woodworking equipment...
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How to choose your spot welding machine?
How to choose your masonry tools?
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How to choose your workshop vacuum cleaner?
How to choose your lubricant, oil and grease?
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Alice, Furniture Maker, Manchester 10 guides écrits
I've been working with my hands from a young age. For as long as I can remember, I've been keen to discover new tools and equipment for building things. I'm always on the lookout for new materials, and I find different kinds of construction techniques fascinating.
I'm also trained in marquetry, which is a highly specialised form of inlay work. As a professional artisan in the field, I've been lucky to master a material that is both noble and commonplace: wood.
Not only am I surrounded by carpenters and other builders in my job, I also get to share ideas and methods with professional and amateur woodworkers alike, including a range of manufacturing specialists.
In my free time I'm also an avid gardener. We get a lot of rain where I live, so I'm able to keep a pretty amazing vegetable garden in the allotments near my home. I love helping the other people who have plots there, and I've become the local go-to person for gardening advice.
I'm here to share my experience about all the different ideas, materials, tools and equipment out there. You may have your (wood)work cut out for you, but my tips will make it a little less overwhelming!