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View Boomer34's profile

Which Clamp Sizes for Newb?

by Boomer34
posted 12-14-2018 02:49 PM

24 replies so far

View tomsteve's profile


983 posts in 1787 days

#1 posted 12-14-2018 03:16 PM

60” clamps canclamp down to 12” but 12” cant clamp up to 60”.
my most used ones are 36”.
however, if your fist project is farmhouse style tables, get the size of clamps that will help with that project.

View Monty151's profile


83 posts in 409 days

#2 posted 12-14-2018 03:30 PM

Hey Boomer,

My very first woodworking project was a farmhouse table myself. As far as clamps go, if you can get the Bessy clamps id go with at least 40”. I however used pipe clamps to save money. I get that they are heavier and a bit more cumbersome to use but they get the job done for me. I would also recommend getting some cheap 12” harbor freight clamps to aid you in your build.

As always have fun building and be safe

View GrantA's profile


2001 posts in 1975 days

#3 posted 12-14-2018 03:32 PM

All of them! Haha
Welcome aboard, Steve is right, 60” clamps can go down to 12” but they’re a royal pain to work with when doing so! I recently picked up some Yost parallel clamps off Amazon at a good price and they’re great. A little lighter duty but plenty of clamping power for gluing straight boards together. If you know you want to make tables you really want to have 6-8 not 4. Get the size best suited to the job.

View LittleShaver's profile


601 posts in 1187 days

#4 posted 12-14-2018 03:35 PM

You can get a heck of a lot of HF clamps for what you would spend for a few Revo’s. Pick up some 3/4 pipe clamps and some lengths of pipe with couplers, then you’ll have the sizes you need.

-- Sawdust Maker

View ChefHDAN's profile


1489 posts in 3417 days

#5 posted 12-14-2018 03:45 PM

Always hunt the deals, for table tops/panel glue ups, pipe clamps work great and you’re only limited by the length of the pipe. You can also get union fittings to join 2 lengths of pipe which can be helpful when the odd very long job comes along.

I am always watching for deals like this Bessey clamp set at HD I’ve got at least a dozen of these in each size, $5 for a Bessy Clamp is a good deal for an F clamp. Revo’s are great clamps but the Jorgensen Pony’s are good too, and they often come up on special deals.

My MOST used clamp in the shop is the Bessy DUOClamp These clamps give GREAT clamping strength and have wonderful one hand operation convenience. I do have irwin/dewalt quick clamps but if I had it to do over again I’d only spend my $$$ on these Duoclamps.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View Monty151's profile


83 posts in 409 days

#6 posted 12-14-2018 03:53 PM

+1 on the Bessy DUO’s. Really smooth operation.

View MikeDilday's profile


260 posts in 1026 days

#7 posted 12-14-2018 04:04 PM

I 6 12”, about 8 36” and two long (I think 52”?). That has worked good for me. I make cabinets and furniture. For multi-board joined tops and sides the 36” work great. Bessey clamps are probably one of the best IMO. Bessey makes a connector that can be used to extend to any length. I would go with 36” and 12” and a few connectors.

-- Michael Dilday, Suffolk, Va.

View JRsgarage's profile


367 posts in 1077 days

#8 posted 12-14-2018 04:17 PM

I skipped the 12” and bought 24”s …bought the 12” in the Tradesman f clamps. After I have added 40’s and 50’s in K body to cover the rest

-- “Facts don't care about your feelings.” ..., Ben Shapiro

View Boomer34's profile


7 posts in 376 days

#9 posted 12-14-2018 06:25 PM

Wow, thanks for all the input! I am really excited to plug into this community. Very encouraging! I’ll post a few other questions today about some other newb questions…but thanks again!

View EarlS's profile


3323 posts in 2916 days

#10 posted 12-14-2018 06:36 PM

Nice thing about Bessey Revo is the extension piece you can buy (or make) that allows you to connect 2 clamps together to make a longer clamp. Check around for the best Bessey prices.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View jutsFL's profile


191 posts in 409 days

#11 posted 12-14-2018 07:35 PM

Those are very nice clamps, and I’ll start by saying id love to have many pairs of varying sizes for them. That being stated, I get a good amount of work done with nothing more than HF clamps. You can sure get.most everything you’ll need for the price of just a handful of the ones you list. Id go with getting a setup of the 60inchers in the nice one’s – say 4. And setup all the smaller of the HF clamps. I cant find anything wrong with their 6in F clamps for about 2.50 each. Ive probably got about 20 of them!

-- I've quickly learned that being a woodworker isn't about making flawless work, rather it's fixing all the mistakes you made so that it appears flawless to others! Jay - FL

View JohnDon's profile


91 posts in 1737 days

#12 posted 12-14-2018 07:47 PM

+1 on HF bar clamps- get a variety of sizes to get started. When your projects and experience get to the point where they don’t meet a specific need, then move up to higher priced clamps- the HF ones will always be useful, though. I’d avoid HF pipe clamps, though- I always have trouble getting them to grip the pipe.

View ChefHDAN's profile


1489 posts in 3417 days

#13 posted 12-14-2018 07:57 PM

Boomer welcome to LJ, keep in mind that many newbie questions can be answered by searching the forums, lots of knowledge here.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View muleskinner's profile


941 posts in 3004 days

#14 posted 12-14-2018 08:02 PM

I’ll second the HF clamps. I’d like a wall full of those nice pretty Bessy clamps but as far a bang for the buck it’s hard to beat HF. They seem to squeeze the glue out just as well as the few higher quality Bessy and Irwin bar clamps I own. Out of 16 36” ratchet type that I got, I ended up tossing one that wouldn’t grab. Not bad when you consider they’re about 1/3 the price of the premium name clamps.

With pipe clamps, I use 3/4” rigid aluminum conduit. Makes them much less bulky and cumbersome.

-- Visualize whirled peas

View pottz's profile


7175 posts in 1552 days

#15 posted 12-14-2018 08:20 PM

i give a thumbs up for the hf clamps,ive had good luck and the price is right.also i have used pipe clamps for years with good success,i just cant justify the price of the k body clamps,i mean the purpose of a clamp is to apply pressure and they all do that.being new id go for quantity over fancy high dollar ones.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View MikeDilday's profile


260 posts in 1026 days

#16 posted 12-14-2018 08:24 PM

If you are making cabinets and furniture you need true parallel clamps. Pipe clamps and cheap clamps don’t cut it for me when you spend $1,000 on materials for a piece of furniture. Gotta be dead on.

-- Michael Dilday, Suffolk, Va.

View WoodenDreams's profile


836 posts in 478 days

#17 posted 12-14-2018 10:59 PM

The clamps I use most are 6” & 12” F-clamps. Next is the 24” U-bar clamps. Then the Irwin Quick-Grips 6” & 12” clamps. But I also have and use but not as much are the 24” & 36” F-clamps, 36” 48” & 60” U-bar clamps, Irwin 24” & 36” Quick-Grips. The 1/2” & 3/4” pipe clamps I have in 36” & 48”, I don’t use very much because of the weight, the aluminum U-bar clamps are so much lighter, which make them easy to use. Don’t get hung-up on clamping pressure, because you only need between 100 to 250 maximum psi clamping pressure, depending on soft or hardwood. What your clamping, determine the length of clamp to be used. HF will save you money on clamps (U-Bar and F-clamps), but for hand clamps, I like the release lever on the Irwin Quick Grip clamps.

View Andybb's profile


2237 posts in 1171 days

#18 posted 12-14-2018 11:47 PM

You can get a heck of a lot of HF clamps for what you would spend for a few Revo s. Pick up some 3/4 pipe clamps and some lengths of pipe with couplers, then you ll have the sizes you need.

- LittleShaver

+1 to everyone else who said this.
You turn, they squeeze! Never had a glue up issue caused by HF clamps. Maybe because of poor technique on my part but I’ve never been able to blame it on the clamps. You need far less pressure than you would think. Two boards glued and butt jointed overnight with just the weight of the boards and no clamps will not break along the glue line the next day. The saying is true. You can never have too many clamps especially if you are doing furniture. You can get 3 or 4 times as many HF clamps vs name brand. Like someone else said grab a few Irwin quick grips. I can’t find them online but they make a really nice big hefty version.

Edit: Irwin HD clamp They clamp and are reversible and can be used for spreading.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View pottz's profile


7175 posts in 1552 days

#19 posted 12-15-2018 12:23 AM

yeah dont waste your money on high dollar clamps,anything that puts pressure on two boards is a clamp.a wall of bessey clamps might look impressive but your can better spend that money on better tools and wood.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View Lazyman's profile (online now)


4225 posts in 1955 days

#20 posted 12-15-2018 06:19 AM

+1 for the Harbor Freight clamps. They’re so inexpensive compared to others and work very well. Wait until you need the Revos before you spend that kind of dough.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View oldnovice's profile


7511 posts in 3935 days

#21 posted 12-15-2018 07:12 PM

Ditto on Bessey clamps.
I was fortunate that the Bessey clamps I have were purchased at a “clearance” sale and got them at bargain prices.
My only regret is that I didn’t buy a bunch more!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Jack Lewis's profile

Jack Lewis

536 posts in 1646 days

#22 posted 12-15-2018 09:03 PM

Here is an idea I copied in the past. Haven’t tried but up to you.

-- "PLUMBER'S BUTT! Get over it, everybody has one"

View derosa's profile


1597 posts in 3403 days

#23 posted 12-18-2018 10:32 PM

My opinion on clamps based on my collection and how I use them, I’ve got
4 4” light duty
15 6”
12 12”
6 18”
6 24” and 4 24” Heavy duty and 1 24” I beam
3 36”, 2 36” heavy duty and 3 36” I beam clamps
2 60” of the Dubuque 60”

If I were starting over I’d do the 6”, 12” and 18” the same though add some more 18” which I will be doing. Making curved pieces from glued laminations or cutting boards require a lot of the smaller sizes, especially when needing to glue more then one thing and not wanting to wait several hours between glue ups. Cutting boards which are popular and turning blanks tend to need more as well. the 4” have proven there worth and I’d like to add 2 more, there have been a few times a couple more would have helped but not many times and not lots more, also still wouldn’t bother with longer light duty. at 24” I wouldn’t bother with any of the regular duty clamps; although properly prepared wood doesn’t need lots of clamping pressure the regular duty just tend to bend a lot along the beam even at low pressures. At this level and above I also wouldn’t bother with any of the I-beam clamps and have been considering selling them, the aluminum universal clamps from Dubuque clamps (toolsforwoodworking has the best prices I’ve found) would become my go to clamps of choice. Like the heavy duty clamps they have 1000lb of force but sit flat on their own and weigh a lot less. a 48” I beam clamps and even f-clamps become unwieldy at this size when working alone for me.
HF clamps aren’t as good but will work fine with the F-clamps, they have slightly less then the jorgensen and bessy which are 600lb of force but still enough to do fine with proper prep and are cheap. They do make a heavy duty quick clamp, I’ve hung 3 16’ tongue and groove ceilings with them and they’ve held up perfectly; they are easily the match of the irwins. The standard duty quick clamps suck big time and aren’t worth the free coupon to get one. I also found their aluminum clamps to not be worth it, Paul Sellers has a nice vid for making them stiffer but the Universals are stronger without the need for reinforcement and not a lot more money.
No matter what, you’ll probably never have enough so just get what you need.

-- A posse ad esse

View Ocelot's profile


2374 posts in 3206 days

#24 posted 12-19-2018 12:27 AM

Clamps tend to multiply in the shop. Here’s a list I cut and pasted from my shop thingies list…

2 ea 12.5” Cincinnati Tool Hargrave C clamps (1916 patent). 10+ lb each (I never yet used, but cool)
12 ea 6” HF “F” type screw-handle clamps, (Very cheap and useful, easier to use than C clamps)
6 ea 6” Bessey Economy Clutch-type F clamp (not any better than the HF, and the wooden handles can break)
6 ea 12” Bessey Economy Clutch-type F clamp
4 ea 24” HF “F” type screw-handle clamps,
4 ea 24” Bessey Economy Clutch-type F clamp (A little weak for this length)
4 ea 36” Bessey Economy Clutch-type F clamp (These are pretty bendy at 36”)
2 ea 60” Jet Parallel Bar Clamp (from the super deal a while back on Amazon. HEAVY)
12 ea 36” HF aluminum bar clamps (most frequently used longer clamp for me)
1 ea 60” HF aluminum bar clamp (just needed one – they are like $17!)
1 ea 48” HF aluminum bar clamp (cut down from 60” – just to get a piece of aluminum extrusion))
8 ea 12” Wolfcraft Yellow squeeze-handle bar clamps (plus 1 broken. These I’ve had for 15+ years and use alot))
4 HF 6” queeze handle clamps (meh…)
2 ea 12” HF handscrew clamps (handy sometimes)
1 ea 10” handscrew clamp
4 ea 1” C clamps (tiny, but have used a few times)
3 ea 2” C clamp (ditto)
1 ea 2 1/2” C clamp (big enough to use)
10 ea 3” C clamp (actually pretty useful)
4 ea 4” HF C clamp +
12 Bessey 4” C clamp ( (so total 16)
2 ea 6” HF C clamp
2 ea 5” HF C clamp
1 ea HF 3 1/2” x 8” deep C clamp (weak, very)
Assorted hand spring clamps
4 Gramercy holdfasts (insert smiley face here)
4 ea KHC-1420 6” Kreg Automax face clamps (wish I had bought more when cheaper)
6 horizontal toggle clamps, 500lb (you have to screw these to jigs and fixtures)
6 vertical toggle clamps, 500lb (ditto)
4 ea Rockler Universal Fence Clamp (nice things when you need ‘em)
1 ea 3” Wilton Drill press vise (v. nice – fits HF 8” drill press)
1 ea 4” HF Drill-press vise (too large for 8” drill press, but really cheap on sale)
1 ea 6” HF Cross Slide Vise (pretty nice, 38lb)

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