As a Woodworker, you must have basic types of clamps. You will need carpentry clamps to hold your workpiece while cutting or after a glue-up session. Most carpenters have these in their workshops & use them regularly.
I’ll go over them really quickly. There is a lot of variety when talking about types of wood clamps, but I’m going to focus on four types. These are an f-style clamp, a squeeze clamp, a pipe clamp, and a parallel clamp. You can add one or all of them to your clamp arsenal.
Introducing 4 Types of Woodworking Clamps
Now there are different levels of quality when it comes to f-style clamps. The quality is basically dictated by the metal bar that comes with them. An F-style clamp can provide you with up to 200 PSI clamping pressure range. These are definitely useful.
If you have ever used f style calm, you might have an idea of their different quality levels. The medium-duty f style clamp has a clutch and a much thicker back. And then there are the heavy-duty ones which have a much thicker steel bar in them.
One of the biggest problems with f style light-duty 36-inch clamps, you can bend that with just your bare hands. The more you crank on it, you start to lose that clamping pressure. You can only go up so high you’ll never be able to max out that PSI.
And you know, what’s really important about these is the rubber handles. Some of the old f style clamps had wooden handles; currently, the best-quality f style clamps have either wood or rigid plastic handles. Softer rubber handles are much easier to grip and crank down on.
Now let’s look at the squeeze clamps. A squeeze clamp and an f-style clamp provide about the same level of clamping pressure. They tend to pull things out of the square when it comes to squeezing clamps. You should use a squeeze clamp: take the top of the clamping non-tightening side & hold it flat and then bring the bottom of the clamp up to it.
Squeeze clamps tend to pull things out of the square but not to the same degree as f-style clamps; because they’re troublesome to get parallel. This problem is solved quite substantially with parallel and pipe clamps.
Parallel clamps are really around the same clamping pressure range as f-style clamps. Probably a little bit more, but the numbers are about the same. However, there is a much bigger surface area. So that thing’s power is spread out over a much bigger distance. So you will actually get much more PSI over a bigger distance.
Parallel clamps and pipe clamps are amazing because they support your project at the same distance. They have feet on them. Most of the parallel clamps have much bigger feet on them. It might be a little bit hard to balance, but they create a great area for you to set your work on.
Parallel clamps are like the Ferrari of clamps because even if you put up to a thousand pounds, they will stay parallel no matter how much you crank on them. The parallel clamp has such thick steel to it that it’s never going to bend. With a parallel clamp, you will get a perfect 90-degree clamping pressure no matter how hard you crank on it. So that’s why they’re so so incredible.
To protect the clamps, you can usually put tape or a piece of paper down before starting to have glue dripping out on them. The better you treat your clamps, the longer they will last.
pipe clamps are great when you’re using calls because they exert so much pressure. They’re great to put a piece of wood in between in your project as it spreads out that pressure and has less chance of denting your work. Pipe clamps are the strongest of your regular clamps. They can provide you with up to a thousand PSI clamping pressure.
Wood Clamp Guide
All about the PSI
Clamping is one of those things that many woodworkers view as a mystery, and you hear these different statements like, “oh!”. Just make sure it squeezes out and this and that, but there’s a lot of science behind it for getting a correct glue line.
Clamping is just comfortable and not that big a deal as long as you learn about spacing and different pressures. What does clamping really do? Well, first and foremost, it creates a strong glue line. The modern PVA glues we mostly use are more robust than wood, and that’s been tested repeatedly, so once you get a good glue line, that is now stronger than the rest of your project.
But clamping creates a thin film. You’ve seen when the glue drips on your bench are sitting there, and you come back the next day, you can still squash them. And that’s not a good glue joint; you don’t want too much glue because it needs to be thin to dry. But you don’t want to overthink it.
Clamping also takes care of minor surface imperfections. So, if you have a slight bow on your board very slight, it’s not going to fix a massively warped board, but it can eliminate some minor imperfections.
When you’re clamping, alternate above and below your board. But when you create a lot of clamping pressure, it may cause your boards to bend up. So you want to alternate above and below your boards when you are clamping.
Let’s talk about the numbers, the different types of woodworking clamps, and what kind of psi they produce and again, you’ll see on manufacturer’s websites that clamps make 8000 pounds but really, what you want to measure is psi.
So when you think about Woods, there are basically two types: softwoods and hardwoods. Now, hardwoods vary pretty significantly in denseness, and the denser the wood, the more psi you need for clamping.
Now when you think about pine. You’re going to think about 150 to 300 psi and hardwood 250 up to 1200; the psi matters by grain. So grain, when you think about quarter-sawn wood, the grain direction runs sort of up and down or diagonal in quarter-sawn wood. Whereas if it’s a flat sawn, then the grain runs sideways the growth rings,
So when you ask why quarter sawn versus flat sawn. The growth rings of flat sawn are more rigid than the center part. So, if you were gluing up the edge and you looked at the side of the board, and you saw it was quarter sawn. It is much easier to compress this because you’re compressing the squishy bits.
But let’s say it was flats sawn where the growth rings were running sideways, and you were gluing up the edge. You will surely see the difference there.
So if you’re doing flats sawn, it’s much harder to compress this growth rings lengthwise than it is when they’re quartersawn, and you’re squishing the squishy bits, so that’s why the psi is needed for quarter sawn it is half.
When you think about it, you know that an F style clamp does about 370 psi, Max, but that varies greatly depending on the user. Things like parallel clamps and squeeze clamps are roughly in that same realm, around 400 psi. But when you think about a parallel clamp, it is a big flat surface that will spread that clamping pressure out a little bit more.
When you think about woods, these are the numbers of psi needed for different woods
- Pine quarter sawn grain running up and down or diagonal, that is going to be about 150 psi, when it’s flats on the growth rings or running horizontally, that’s gonna be about 300 psi
- cherry 250 quartersawn & 504 flats swan, it’s nearly half from flats swan to quartersawn
- oak 450 to 900 psi
- Maple 600 to 1200 psi,
- Walnut is 250 to 500 psi
so you know, basically goes cherry walnut oak and maple as far as the increasing amount of psi.
Which Carpentry Clamps Should You Buy
Now as far as buying, it’s better to sort of mix it up as far as a light-duty, medium-duty, and heavy-duty clamp. Sometimes, you just need to clamp a little piece of wood to something like a bit of stop block. Throw a little super glue on it and put a light-duty clamp. It’s easy to grab & just slap it on. It’s great for small projects.
When you get into clamping things where you need more reliability, a heavier-duty f-style clamp will be perfect; they are stronger & they don’t move as much.
It starts to bend and move around if you need to exert a lot of pressure with one of these light-duty ones. Anybody who owns the cheap ones knows that the chances of those things staying straight Are pretty low.
When you get in a pipe clamp, you’re not going to bend a 3/4-inch piece of Steel. And what’s incredible about pipe clamps as you can build any size clamp you want. You can go to online marketplaces to get the size you want and get couplers for them. By the way, if you get black clamps when they get wet with glue, they will stain your wood. So spend a little bit more and get the steel ones.
So if you have some massive glue-up, you need to do it, and you don’t know how you’re going to get it done. You can get a couple of 4-foot-long pipe clamps; get a coupler for them. Now you have an eight-foot-long pipe clamp.
Pipe clamps are pretty versatile & pretty cheap. They have some limitations to them, of course. The most notable downside to these clamps would be; they have such a small clamp area & they’re cumbersome. So, picking these up will be quite tricky; they carry a lot of weight.
Whereas parallel clamps are more expensive than pipe clamps, they make your life so easy. You can get massive clamping areas. They stay 90 degrees, and It just works great.
Now here’s the thing to consider about parallel Clamps. They are notorious for being hard to adjust, like opening and closing. It will take a considerable amount of time for you to get consistently good at using these ones. Sometimes it may feel impossible to open.
When you are doing glue-up, and you only have five minutes of open time, The last thing you need is to be fighting with your clamps. Find a parallel clamp that can easily pop up slides back and forth.
Let’s go with just more clamps, and you don’t have to worry about really crank down on them. I just need to get that good squeeze out of them. You need to get them snug, but you don’t want to struggle with them and squeeze too much glue out of the joint. And of course, it helps; the cleaner and straighter your edges are, the less you have to fight with clamping pressure.
Also Read: Top 5 Picture Frame Clamps for Woodworking.
I hope you have got the proper gist about the types of wood clamps.
Use your suitable clamps when it matters. If you just need to clamp something quickly, grab a light-duty one. All in all, you can’t have enough clamps for sure when it comes to clamping pressure.
However, if you’re worried about it, just add a few more clamps. You don’t need to sit there and calculate the number of clamps.