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I just use 3/4" black iron pipe that I bought at Lowes and cut into the sizes I needed. The upside of pipe clamps is they're super strong (sometimes too strong) and won't flex.

The downside of the black pipe is that it can "rub off" onto wood resting on the pipe during glue ups. I've taken to coating the pipe in painters tape to avoid this.
 

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Black pipe is the way to go ,in time the galvanized peals off of pipe clamps.Also 3/4 " pipe is much better than 1/2"it flexes a lot less than 1/2". When you get the pipes make sure you get both ends of the pipe threaded so you can join more than one pipe together with pipe couplers. Another point get some pipes that are 3" or so, longer than sizes used mostly ,as an example ,instead of getting 24"pipes get 27 " so that you can easily clamp 24" projects.
 

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I am going with the 3/4 black pipe. My son in law is running a gas line for my garage and there will be 40' of pipe left for clamps. You can't beat free pipe. I have used regular bar clamps and pipe clamps work just as good. Go with the black pipe my old ones have been in my shop for 35years and still work great.
 

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The black sands off pretty easily. It bothers me most when glue squeeze out seems to get stuck between the pipe clamp and the wood, leaving behind a hardened black glue glob that you can't easily scrape off without removing the clamps during that "skinning over" phase… hence the tape.
 

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Endgrainy makes a good point about leaving marks on your wood with black pipes but Galvy pipes leave marks also.
I always slip my fingers under pipe clamps so they are not in contact with the wood to prevent this problem.

Harbor Freight has sales on pipe clamps sometimes , where you can get 3 of them for the cost of a brand name pipe clamps. Some times HF clamps are not good or need a little Vaseline on the threads to have them work well,but for the most part the biggest percentage of them work fine. The ones that don't work well they will take back.
 

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Endgrainy makes a good point about leaving marks on your wood with black pipes but Galvy pipes leave marks also.
I always slip my fingers under pipe clamps so they are not in contact with the wood to prevent this problem.

- a1Jim
But what do you do if you have more than 10 clamps?? :)
 

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I usually put one clamp on at a time(I think most of us do) it takes two seconds to slip your finger under each end as you tighten them
2 seconds X 10 clamps = 20 seconds extra :)
 

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Get a roll of cut rite wax paper and tear a strip about four inches wide, crease it down the center and lay it on the pipe clamp and then put your wood on and clamp it. Also, put a strip in top. The wax paper keeps the wood and any dripping glue from touching the pipe clamps and thus the stain is prevented. I use wax paper between wood and a caul too. It keeps the caul from inadvertently getting glued to the wood.
 

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As Bobin 29 said in my shop you will always find a roll of wax paper just for when I do glue ups works great plus when you are done I keep some handy to use to wipe down my miter slots in the table saw makes things slide so much easier especially my cross cut sled that has wooden runners
 

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I just use 3/4" black iron pipe that I bought at Lowes and cut into the sizes I needed. The upside of pipe clamps is they re super strong (sometimes too strong) and won t flex.

The downside of the black pipe is that it can "rub off" onto wood resting on the pipe during glue ups. I ve taken to coating the pipe in painters tape to avoid this.

- endgrainy
I second getting long lengths of black iron pipe for your clamps.

Black pipe is the way to go ,in time the galvanized peals off of pipe clamps.Also 3/4 " pipe is much better than 1/2"it flexes a lot less than 1/2". When you get the pipes make sure you get both ends of the pipe threaded so you can join more than one pipe together with pipe couplers. Another point get some pipes that are 3" or so, longer than sizes used mostly ,as an example ,instead of getting 24"pipes get 27 " so that you can easily clamp 24" projects.

- a1Jim
Definitely get it cut to longer lengths and threaded on both sides for more flexibility.

I've been toying with the idea of cutting PVC pipe spacers to insert into my pipe clamps to help with glue spacing. Haven't had a chance (or motivation) to do it yet. It's too easy to steal my wife's wax paper. (And stocking up on parallel clamps this past year doesn't help either. But that's another story…)
 

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I own 4 pipe clamps that I thought I absolutely needed at one point, and I rarely ever use them. I did get the black marks on my first glue-up, too. The next time, I put a strip of painters tap along the clamp and that helped.

What I ended up going with was :
- Measure the distance from the bar surface to the pad on the clamp, multiply by two, then add 3/4"
- Cut a softwood square with the side lengths equal to that measurement. I used softwood so, if it accidentally glued to the panel, which it never has, it's softer than the panel. If you were worried about glue, you could slap some poly on the squares.
- Drill a 3/4" diameter hole in the exact center of the block (you may need to roughly sand it to get it to slip over the pipe)
- When you go to glue up a panel slip a few of those on each bar. It keeps your workpieces off the bar, and makes gluing the panel up easier because the pieces are held at the height of the pads.
 

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Get a roll of cut rite wax paper and tear a strip about four inches wide, crease it down the center and lay it on the pipe clamp and then put your wood on and clamp it.

- Bobin29
Bobin, I've tried waxed paper but the problem is the length. When I tighten the clamps the length shortens and the paper either bunches up at the ends or it gets stuck between the boards. How do you deal with it ? Other than the bunching, waxed paper seems like a viable solution.
 
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