Starting a Clamp Collection

Henry W

HenryW
Senior User
I can clamp almost anything with 4 Bessey parallel clamps and have perfect glue lines and joinery. Solid clamps with strong clamping pressure are the key. ....
I actually can say, I have too many Clamps. ....
No argument from me - I just have not tried them. I'd be happy to help you out if those "too many clamps" starts to bother you - :D :rolleyes: . Wish I had seen these name brand clamps at Ollie's or Big Lot's - prices would likely be more to my liking.
 
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bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
I'm anxious to hear what Phillip thinks of these responses and how he plans to proceed.
A clamp budget of $200.00 per year for 10 years would probably be sufficient for all your future clamping needs.
 

cyclopentadiene

Update your profile with your name
User
No argument from me - I just have not tried them. I'd be happy to help you ought if those "too many clamps" starts to bother you - :D :rolleyes: . Wish I had seen these name brand clamps at Ollie's or Big Lot's - prices would likely be more to my liking.
Lowes and Home Depot reset their tool sections every 3-4 years and the vendors change. Watch for the next one and the remaining inventory will show up at the liquidators. You have to travel around the state and be prepared to buy everything you see in each store even if they are not in pairs. The price is generally 30-50% of retail
 

ptt49er

Phillip
Corporate Member
Well... Seems the common theme is pipe clamps, which is what I went with... For now

I ordered 4 sets of the Bessy 3/4 pipe clamps and picked up 3 sticks of 10' pipe. Figured I could cut them on half and the have an extra length if I need it. There was essentially no price difference between the pipe after 4' or so anyways.

Now to find some lumber!

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
I had heard so many people twitter and coo over these K-body Bessey clamps that I got four to try out.
Meh.
I guess to the inexperienced woodworker, they might be great. For making plywood boxes, I think they would be great, but that's it but maybe that's enough. I intend to get more.
I've heard they clamp up square. Well, no pics, didn't happen. Square for one side only.
1    bessey - 1.jpg
this is the pressure side. Clearly it clamps up inward. That's not such a bad thing at all, but it sure as heck isn't square.
1    bessey - 2.jpg
This is the fixed side. Square sure enough.
1    bessey - 3.jpg
To address the original question, here's a comparison shot with the Bessey K-body at the far right.
On the left is a Jorgensen 1/2" pipe clamp. Great for plywood boxes and light glue ups
Next is the old standby, a Jorgensen 3/4" pipe clamp. Hefty enough to clamp boards together for small table top glue-ups. This is the size most everyone likes. Its very versatile and cost-efficient.
Third from the left is a Hargrave 640 . This is the newer style with the more narrow I-beam. The Jorgensen 7200 series is this type. This will clamp large board glue-ups.
Fourth is an older Hargrave 640 with a much wider I-beam. Like everyone else that has and uses them, these are my favorites for demanding glue-ups.
Lastly, on the far right is the Bessey. Its compression force is about that of the Jorgensen 3/4 pipe clamp. The "beam" is a rather thin strip of steel. Clearly it can be pressed into service for solid lumber glue-ups but it isn't ideal.

The old I-beam bar clamps are hard to find and expensive to buy. They're top of the line. Clamp users know this. I've sold a few over the years and never did my ad last more than a day. They won't be found with the retailers of shiny cheap things.
 
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ptt49er

Phillip
Corporate Member
Well... Seems the common theme is pipe clamps, which is what I went with... For now

I ordered 4 sets of the Bessy 3/4 pipe clamps and picked up 3 sticks of 10' pipe. Figured I could cut them on half and the have an extra length if I need it. There was essentially no price difference between the pipe after 4' or so anyways.

Now to find some lumber!

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
With the exception of quick clamps I have found all the clamps I've purchased at HF to be quite usable. I have a mixture of brands in 1/2 and 3/4 pipe clamps, 4 4 foot and 4 5 foot aluminum clamps from HF, 6 or 8 steel bar clamps from HF 18-24 inches long and a pile of C clamps 3-6 inches wide, mostly HF. The aluminum bar clamps are nice to handle but won't clamp anywhere as firmly as a pipe clamp and are annoying sometimes in requiring fine positioning of the movable jaw and sticking on movement in the clamping jaw. But I tend to reach for them first because they are nice and light and normally the force they apply is enough. If I really need force I reach for a 3/4 pipe clamp. I have them up to 6 feet and use couplers to make longer ones when I need them. I have 4 3 foot on 1/2 pipe and 4 4 foot on 1/2 pipe but they also will not clamp nearly as hard as the ones on 3/4 pipe (but more than the aluminum). If I was starting over I'd probably skip the 3 foot pipe clamps. 4 footers are more useful and a bunch of 4 foot with couplers so you can go longer would take care of most of my projects. But for headboards and footboards the six footers are nice. The couplers introduce much more flex than a solid piece of pipe. I have pipe enough for 3 or 4 more 6 footers and will get the fittings when I need them.

For price and versatility I don't think you can beat the humble pipe clamp. A 3/4 will really exert force and not bend much on solid pipe, at least up to 6 feet, the longest I've tried. They do leave marks but I do not sand until after glueup so it normally doesn't matter. If it does you can use painters tape or other methods to avoid the mark. They are heavy but I don't think there is anything near them in price that will exert as much force - not always necessary but handy when you need it.

I use all my clamps and would hate to have less. I don't use them on every project but I could not make the furniture I've made without them. It is sometimes possible to throw a screw in and then plug the hole but who wants to do that? How are you going to make a solid wood table top or cabinet top without some fairly long clamps (typically 4 foot would do).
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
The only reason you might want threads on both ends is so you can use a coupler to double their length when you need it. I do not have this on all my pipe clamps but I do use this capability sometimes.
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
Now that the shopping is over with, maybe I can help with some suggestions on the working.

Here's a 2x4 strip that I quickly cut out by eye and a table saw dado set. I did mark the widths and cut to the line. I remember having both parts of the 2x4 screwed together. Its been so far back that the 2x4 measures 1-5/8 x 3-5/8. To this day I still use it even though I could make a nicer looking one. It keeps the pipe clamps from sliding around on the bench and it gets them high off the table so that one doesn't risk a knuckle busting.
1    moreclampstuff - 4.jpg
So where do you put the clamps? In a corner? That invites an ankle busting clamp avalanche when you try to pull out the one in the back.
Make a rack like those shown below Hang it up near the ceiling. Have it stick out far enough to get four or five clamps per slot. The clamps are now out of the corner and up where you can see them and do not take up floor space. You can walk up and extract the clamp using the long end of the clamp. The below photos were taken in 2004 and I've replaced those rack with a much sturdier build, but you get the idea.

1    moreclampstuff - 1.jpg
1    moreclampstuff - 2.jpg
1    moreclampstuff - 3.jpg
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
Another tip. Using the internal threaded coupling sleeve is a great way to extend the length but it does make a bulge. So slide some strips of 1/4 ply between the work and the pipe. Below is a shot of clamping up something unusually long for me. I needed an extra 8" rig so I used a coupling and the strips of 1/4 ply on the table frame at the top of the photo. The bottom of the photo is where the pipes were long enough. An aside, its good to have a long screw travel on the moveable clamp head so tenons can be pressed in with clamp pressure. The new Bessey K-body clamps I got have a 25mm range (slightly under an inch). This type of clamp would be a major pain to use for mortise and tenon joinery.
 

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ptt49er

Phillip
Corporate Member
Thanks for the tips! I still probably need a few more but this should get me through this project.
 

golfdad

Co-director of Outreach
Dirk
Corporate Member
If you go with pipe clamps go 36” and have them threaded on both ends. By a few extra pieces of pipe and a few couplings and you have 6 ft clamps if you need them
 

ptt49er

Phillip
Corporate Member
I picked up 10' lengths and we have a pipe threader at work. I couldn't see paying $17 for a 4' stick when 10' was $22.

I'm thinking I'll cut them in to 2', 3', and 5' sections.
 

red

Papa Red
Red
Senior User
24" pipes are too short in my opinion unless you do a lot of not wide glue ups.. I would do 36" and bigger. Remember with a 24" clamp you don't have 24" of clamping area.

Red
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
Red makes a good point about length. Figure about 5-1/2" to 6" of pipe length for the head and sliding jaw.
Know that no matter what length you choose, at some point you'll wish you had chosen differently. That's just how the world of clamps works so we make do and get on with it.
 

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