Parallel Clamps vs Bar Clamps

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Forum topic by Tom622 posted 11-01-2018 07:28 PM 5323 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Tom622's profile


9 posts in 945 days

11-01-2018 07:28 PM

Hey guys,

Just a quick question. Is there a big difference between parallel and bar clamps for general purpose glue ups? If so which do you prefer and why?



24 replies so far

View ShaneA's profile


7085 posts in 3480 days

#1 posted 11-01-2018 07:32 PM

Square pressure, larger faces, more clamping force, they can “stand up” on their own. I prefer parallel clamps, but they are certainly more expensive and a bit more fussy to use from time to time. Weigh a bit more too.

View HokieKen's profile


15157 posts in 2020 days

#2 posted 11-01-2018 07:49 PM

What Shane said^^ When you need them, parallel clamps are the cat’s pajamas. But, when you don’t necessarily need the parallel faces and all that force, bar clamps are a little easier to manage sometimes. If I were restricted to only one type, it would be parallels for sure. But I’m glad I have both and I use both regularly.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View pottz's profile


11708 posts in 1866 days

#3 posted 11-01-2018 07:58 PM

as said one big difference is the cost,id love to have a wall full of em but ive always made do with pipe 40 years wood working ive never had a problem getting the job if cost is an issue the cheaper version will work just fine.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View JayT's profile


6413 posts in 3093 days

#4 posted 11-01-2018 08:00 PM

What those guys ^^ said.

Parallel clamps are superior for all the reasons Shane mentioned and, like Kenny, if I could only have one, it would be parallel clamps. I use them the most and to start glueups and support with the less expesive bar clamps.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View Andybb's profile


2884 posts in 1485 days

#5 posted 11-01-2018 08:05 PM

Parallel = Festool
Bar Clamps = Dewalt

Both will get the job done 99% of the time.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View WoodenDreams's profile


1161 posts in 793 days

#6 posted 11-01-2018 08:06 PM

I use primarily my 24”,36” & 48” aluminum U-bar clamps when gluing up panels & chests, I switched from pipe clamps to aluminum U-clamps because it’s easier to use a lighter weight clamp. I also use F-clamps, and Irwin hand clamps. I have about (45) 24” thru 48” U-bar clamps, (6) 4’ pipe clamps, about (50) 6” thru 36” F-clamps, about (40) 6” thru 36” Irwin hand clamps, plus another (30) specialty clamps. I still run out of clamps on some of my glue-up projects. You never have enough clamps. What you’re clamping will determine the size & type of the clamp needed. Six of my aluminum U-bars clamps are parallel style, and I used them maybe twice in the last year.

View therealSteveN's profile


6442 posts in 1456 days

#7 posted 11-01-2018 08:12 PM

Clamping pressure in a nutshell. Parallel clamps go out to around 1000 pounds, for most are slightly harder to work with, and for all are more money.

Other bar clamps, and pipe clamps about half the pressure, but they still exert plenty of pressure to make for good solid glue ups. prices are all over the place, but always less than Parallel’s.

All have some pros and cons. I think for most it actually just comes down to $$$$$$$ Unless your Granddaddy…. Sir Clamps a Lot died and left you his stash then they are all good.

And it’s just a generalization when they say you can NEVER have enough clamps. I know a few guys who have passed that never mark, all I can say for certain is they are poor now. One guy will have glued up panels all over the place to where getting through his shop is difficult, and still has walls dripping with clamp money, go figure, he took it seriously.

My take on that discussion is before you get the glue bottle out, round up as many clamps as that glue up needs. If you have enough clamps left to continue, do so, if not stop and glue up. MOST glue ups only require an hour tops in a clamp, and they will be good as long as you don’t abuse them before 24 hours. It’s really hard to run out of clamps if you work with that thought in mind, and you start with half as many again, as the most complicated glue up that you can imagine. Heck if you have serious or complicated glue ups, doing dry fitting and tuning up parts will take an hour for the next glue up. If not you can move ahead in cutting, sanding or shaping parts for another project while you wait.

Make a few cutting boards, a nice beginners project, and fun for old timers too. It will give you an idea of using clamps, and the time they will be in use. Grow from that, and add clamps only when you see a real need.

-- Think safe, be safe

View pintodeluxe's profile


6210 posts in 3695 days

#8 posted 11-01-2018 08:16 PM

I have both, and it’s interesting to think about what projects I prefer one over the other.
For panel glueups I reach for the bar clamps. I alternate them top and bottom. The glue pops off the bar easier, and I just get better results using pipe clamps for large panels.

For case glueups and general clamping, I prefer parallel clamps. The biggest ones are not always the best. My favorite are actually the Bessey Revo Jr’s. I reach for those in the 24” length all the time.

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

View 000's profile


2859 posts in 1781 days

#9 posted 11-01-2018 08:24 PM

Old school here.

View AlaskaGuy's profile


6109 posts in 3191 days

#10 posted 11-02-2018 12:16 AM

What’s the matter with all you. You know all you need is some “ALDER”

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View Jared_S's profile


401 posts in 841 days

#11 posted 11-02-2018 12:28 AM

I think a clarification of terms is in order..

Typical Bar clamps are heavy steel clamps that top out around 7000lbs of force. Aluminum Bar clamps are a whole other animal.

I would also argue that pipe clamps have significantly more clamping pressure than parallel clamps by virtue of the screw driver sized handle vs the lever on a pipe clamps.

If you’re making large laminated benches or exterior doors Bar clamps are far superior to parallel clamps. So the idea of what is better depends on the application.

View DrDirt's profile


4614 posts in 4624 days

#12 posted 11-02-2018 04:47 AM

I think a clarification of terms is in order..

Typical Bar clamps are heavy steel clamps that top out around 7000lbs of force. Aluminum Bar clamps are a whole other animal.

- Jared_S

Thank you for beating me to that Jared – I have some of the Pony/Jorgenson I-beam Bar Clamps… and they are a real beast. the 7200 series.
there is a 3700 series, as the F style have 1000 pounds force which is great to press veneeer between platens, or to bend laminations to a form For those style, I got clamps from Menards, that are 10 bucks each for that application for 12 inch clamps
Menards MASTERFORCE-600 pounds of force

Jorgenson 3700s

Jorgenson 7200s – great for large panel glue ups… ZERO flex in that bar

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View WoodenDreams's profile


1161 posts in 793 days

#13 posted 11-02-2018 06:39 AM

What your clamping will determine the size and clamp needed. Sounds like a few of the LJ’s like to squeeze out all of the glue from their glue-ups, with too much clamping pressure, leaving no glue in the joints. Parallel clamps do have a larger footprint, but are normally heavier to use. The aluminum U-bar clamps are lighter and easier to use because of the weight. I have not experienced them to bend while clamping. All of my aluminum U-bar clamps have a plastic cover on them to prevent glue from sticking to the clamps. So, for this reason I use the U-bar clamps more often.

View AlaskaGuy's profile


6109 posts in 3191 days

#14 posted 11-02-2018 08:10 AM

I think all this hooey about ton of pressure is overrated. A good rub joint will break the wood before the joint and there is no clamp presser at all . I’ll go with my parallel clamps most times. Most of us are not building huge glue lams you know.

I’ve done this and it works.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View WoodenDreams's profile


1161 posts in 793 days

#15 posted 11-02-2018 06:19 PM

I agree with AlaskaGuy on the not needing much pressure on glue ups.

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