Pipe vs Parallel clamps

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Forum topic by Gixxerjoe04 posted 11-18-2015 03:42 AM 6287 views 0 times favorited 36 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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850 posts in 2492 days

11-18-2015 03:42 AM

So what’s the real difference between these two types of clamps besides a pipe and metal bar and big price difference? I only have a handful of pipe clamps and some random other kinds, wanting to get a few longer ones for a table I’m wanting to build. Also with the jet clamps being half off next week, was wondering if they’re worth it even though up to 40” is on sale. So what’s everyone’s opinions on the two types of clamps, pros cons, the big price difference has mean leaning towards just getting a bunch of different size pipe clamps for the price of a couple parallel clamps. Also, anyone use the aluminum style clamps HF sells and I saw my woodcraft is selling basically the same thing now, but surprisingly it’s not that much in price difference I don’t believe from the HF ones.

36 replies so far

View JAAune's profile


1891 posts in 3232 days

#1 posted 11-18-2015 03:52 AM


1. Black pipe is the preferred bar stock for pipe clamps and it will leave black marks on wood if water-based glues are used. The marks have to be cleaned up afterwards or the clamps need to be kept from contacting the wood.

2. Parallel clamps have less deflection due to the bar shape which makes it easier to keep panels flat.

3. Parallel clamps have built-in, non-marring faces whereas pipe clamps need to have aftermarket pads installed.

4. Parallel clamps have a deeper throat and are less likely to slip off the wood if the surfaces aren’t perfectly square.

As a professional I prefer the parallel clamps because time is at a premium. I need to get stuff clamped fast and accurately. Before going into business however, I just used pipe clamps. They are slower to use but that’s not a big issue when glue-ups happen once a week.

My favorites are the Jorgenson cabinet clamps. The fiddly, locking lever on the Jet is a pain to mess with. Jorgenson clamps slide easily (and smash fingers too) which makes them easy to operate with one hand after some practice. Menards puts them on sale a couple times a year at 30-40% off.

-- See my work at

View Mark's profile


1054 posts in 2890 days

#2 posted 11-18-2015 03:58 AM

I’ve used pipe clamps for the last 5 yrs solid and off and on before that. They always seem to work out fine. Having said that. the Mrs got me 4 Jorgensen’s for Christmas (can I say the “C” word?) and those are killer. I think the parallel clamps will grip lower down on your project than pipe clamps. Parallel C has a deeper throat that than Pipe c’s. if your using black pipe instead of galvanized you will get a nasty reaction between the glue and the pipe. That can be over come with either masking tape on the pipe or saran wrap on the pipe or laid over the wood. If I had the bucks I would have nothing but Parallel C’s…..But.

-- Mark

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6571 posts in 3409 days

#3 posted 11-18-2015 03:45 PM

No doubt the parallel jaw clamps have all the advantages listed above, and for they cost they should have advantages. I have a really good selection of them and wouldn’t want to give them up. That said: really nice work has been (and still is) being done with pipe clamps…they work just fine.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View pintodeluxe's profile


6231 posts in 3729 days

#4 posted 11-18-2015 06:01 PM

I use both. Black pipe and Bessey “H” style clamp heads for panel glueups, and a variety of Bessey parallel clamps for everything else.

Uniklamp is their smallest, light duty clamp. They are useful for holding corbels in place until the glue dries, but not a ton of clamping pressure. They feel more like an “F” style clamp in parallel clamp clothing.

Revo Jr. clamps are pretty good all-around shop clamps. Good clamping pressure, and a moderate sized clamp jaw. Yet they are still lightweight and easy to use. My only complaint is that the Revo Jr. uses wooden handles. I prefer the larger rubber handles to reduce hand strain. If they changed the Revo Jr. to use the full sized Revo handle, it would be just about perfect.

Revos are larger and more stout. They are good for cabinet glueups, and securing mortise and tenon joints. Clamping pressure is excellent, but they can be a little tricky to engage sometimes. Great grip with the oversized rubber handles, and the large jaw really extends the reach.

Good luck in your search.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View bondogaposis's profile


5891 posts in 3267 days

#5 posted 11-18-2015 06:41 PM

When I started out, I used pipe clamps because they were fairly cheap and they work fine. However after purchasing a pair parallel jaw clamps the advantages were obvious and quickly replaced all of my pipe clamps w/ them. JAAune, pretty well spells out the advantages.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View JimRochester's profile


574 posts in 2530 days

#6 posted 11-18-2015 09:12 PM

I use both. The parallel clamps require no pre-glue adjustment. Just open them up, plunk down the wood, close and turn the handle. The pipe clamps need to be set the right distance first which as others have said can take a minute.

I’ve never had a big problem with staining the wood black. My biggest complaint about the parallel clamps, is that unlike the pipe clamps, dried glue doesn’t just chip right off. In fact it’s a pain to get dried glue off my Jorgenson clamps. So you’ll need to constantly be taping them up, or use alternate solutions. I keep a bunch of scrap pvc piping to lay over the bar to keep it clean. Either way, IMHO, the time you save by not having to set up the clamps, you lose through the additional step. The deep parallel jaws are very nice.

-- Schooled in the advanced art of sawdust and woodchip manufacturing.

View BJODay's profile


528 posts in 2859 days

#7 posted 11-18-2015 11:00 PM

1. Black pipe is the preferred bar stock for pipe clamps and it will leave black marks on wood if water-based glues are used. The marks have to be cleaned up afterwards or the clamps need to be kept from contacting the wood.

I recently added this and it reduces the chances of leaving black marks.

Sometimes it’s not easy to use, (when gluing together several narrow strips), but I’ve had good luck with it.

View joey502's profile


558 posts in 2434 days

#8 posted 11-18-2015 11:24 PM

What is the dimensions of the table top you are working on?

I ask because parallel clamps over 36” are heavy and a bit costly, not that any are cheap. You could use pipe clamps for this table and get smaller parallel clamps that would be used more often.

I have 24” and 36” Jorgensen cabinet masters and really like them. I do not think I have used a pipe inside this range since I bought the Jorgensens.a only for the reasons stated by others.

View Gixxerjoe04's profile


850 posts in 2492 days

#9 posted 11-18-2015 11:59 PM

Yea after thinking about it, I’ll probably get some parallel clamps that are on sale but will go with pipe clamps for the real long stuff, cant really justify spending $100 for one clamp and have to buy two of them. The table I plan on building right now will be probably 6 or 7 feet long, haven’t decided 100%.

View Tooch's profile


2013 posts in 2792 days

#10 posted 11-19-2015 10:54 AM

About 4 years ago I went clamp happy, and bought about 16 Irwin 2’ clamps, and 4 4’ Irwin clamps. the amount of use that I have gotten out of the 2’ clamps is exponential to the amount of use that the 4’ clamps received. we actually wore out a few of the 2’ clamps, while the others rarely come off the rack.

+1 to buyin the smaller parallel clamps and going cheap on the longer ones. the amount of use you’ll get one the smaller ones makes it a no-brainer.

-- "Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too..." - Judge Smails

View joey502's profile


558 posts in 2434 days

#11 posted 11-25-2015 01:40 PM

The Jorgensen cabinet master sale mentioned above is on for the next week and a half. Good buys to be had. The HDs in my area sell the Jorgensen also and will match the price plus 10% off because it is an identical item.

View bonesbr549's profile


1588 posts in 3983 days

#12 posted 11-25-2015 02:10 PM

I have and use both. They have their places. I recently started pickup the bessey versions of the pipe clamps and they are great. They have great feet to stand up and how I store mine they hook nicely. Great for panels and no deflections. Also since the price of parallels have gone through the roof, a great cost alternative (not the cheap crap ones. Parallels move fast easy to use light, and great when standing panels on edge or over very long distances. I’ve got a couple long ones.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View SignWave's profile


472 posts in 3951 days

#13 posted 11-25-2015 02:11 PM

I have some 4’ pipe clamps that I use when I need to glue up something big and I need strong clamping. Something like a bench top lamination. They work for clamping but they’re heavy and hard to manage. But when I need them, they do the job. I got them on sale at Rockler and for the money, I cannot complain.

I’m sure that parallel clamps would be more convenient, but I really don’t think that if I had the same sized parallel clamps I’d use them any more. It would really bum me out to have expensive 4’ parallel clamps sitting on the rack in the corner 99% of the time.

Having some 2’ parallel clamps might make sense for what I do, but I’m getting by with cheap F-clamps and cauls for now. But I’m cheap.

-- Barry,

View joey502's profile


558 posts in 2434 days

#14 posted 11-25-2015 02:20 PM

I do not own any parallel clamps longer than 36”, can’t see myself using longer ones enough to spend that kind of money.

The 24” parallel clamps get used on nearly every project. I like the ability to stand the glue up on the floor somewhere out of my way while it dries.

View Gixxerjoe04's profile


850 posts in 2492 days

#15 posted 11-25-2015 02:25 PM

I wish they were a lot cheaper for the smaller ones, $34 for 24” or $44 for 48”, if it were a dollar an inch Id be happy haha

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