Highland Woodworking Wood News Online, No. 150, February 2018Welcome to Highland Woodworking - Fine Tools & Education Learn more about Highland Woodworking View our current woodworking classes and seminars Woodworking articles and solutions Subscribe to Wood News
All Kinds of Clamps
By Alan Noel
Professional Wood Finisher

When taking wood shop in high school the shop was well stocked with bar clamps, pipe clamps, wooden screw clamps and C clamps. There were no strap clamps or light duty bar clamps with the turned wooden handles. We were taught to use a rope with a stick for twisting the rope tight instead of the strap clamps that are used today. While touring the Gibson Guitar factory I was surprised to see all of these guitars all strapped together with rope! Light duty bar clamps were not available at that time as far as I know. We also used masking tape in various situations when appropriate in a pinch.

I went to flea markets, junk stores and yard sales to stock my shop with what I could find and it wasn't too long before I had an ample supply of what I was taught to use in shop class. As time went on mailers were sent promoting the latest in clamping and of course I was interested in the latest and greatest so I bought some of the "F" style light duty bar clamps and immediately put them to work and found out very soon that they were REALLY only designed for light duty and for nothing much else. When applying pressure the bar clamp would actually start bending, limiting the amount of pressure the clamp could exert to the situation. limiting the usefulness of the clamp itself. An old 3/4" pipe clamp or a heavy bar clamp would never give like this and could apply a tremendous amount of reliable pressure. And a very big plus to the pipe clamp is the pipe can be as long or short as you need and the clamp could be reversed to make a "spreader" by sliding off both ends and reversing them. Quick and easy.

When the new strap clamps came along they came with a ratcheting device or a nut that can be tightened with a wrench. Clamping round or irregular shapes is a breeze and these clamps are made with a very strong material that can exert a lot of pressure making the job at hand much easier, faster and the clamps can be tied together to create a clamp as long as you may need.

Quick grip clamps, or "K" style clamps are the type made with a light gauge steel rail and plastic handle that you squeeze with your hands. This is another good clamp when not a lot of pressure is required for the job. Some of these are also designed so you can make a spreader as mentioned above.

I think it safe to say we all know what a C clamp is and wooden screw clamps, too. Both can exert a lot of pressure, are versatile and easy to use. My wooden screw clamps get a good cleaning after each use to make sure there is no dried glue left behind which can cause a big problem when clamping another project.

Nowadays there are a myriad of choices for all kinds of clamping situations on the market but every now and then something will come along where you need to use some imagination to figure out a way to clamp it. They're going to have to pry the rope and stick out of my cold dead hands…

CLICK HERE to visit the Highland Woodworking Clamps Department

Alan can be reached directly via email c/o Alan Noel Furniture Refinishing at anoelfurniturere@bellsouth.net. You can also visit Alan's website by CLICKING HERE.

Visiting Atlanta? Attend one of Alan's upcoming highly informative Highland Woodworking wood finishing seminars:

February 7, 2018  Finishing the Finish
March 21, 2018  Coloring Wood
March 24, 2018  Finishing 101
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