What Are Woodworking Clamps?

Dan Cavallari

Woodworking clamps are devices used to secure one or more pieces of wood in place for gluing, screwing, cutting, or any other woodworking functions that require the piece to be still. The size, shape, and function of woodworking clamps can vary significantly, and the best clamps will be the ones that will work well for a certain application. Most clamps of this type will feature some sort of broad or padded surfaces to prevent damage to the wood being clamped. The jaws of the clamp will be adjustable inward and outward to secure or release the piece easily.

Woodworking clamps can be used to hold a piece of wood in place.
Woodworking clamps can be used to hold a piece of wood in place.

One of the most common types of woodworking clamps is the F-clamp. This clamp is, unsurprisingly, shaped like the letter F, with the top horizontal line of the F being stationary and the bottom horizontal line of the F being adjustable up and down. The vertical line of the F acts as a stabilizer as well as a guide along which the lower vertical jaw of the clamp will move. The stabilizer is often notched to allow the adjustable clamp to secure into place when necessary, and an adjustable screw handle allows for fine-tuning of the clamp's tightness.

Other woodworking clamps are much simpler. Hand screw clamps, for example, feature two wooden jaws that can clamp down on a piece of wood using two adjustable screw handles that separate or close the jaws. These are more traditional woodworking clamps, and they accommodate a wide variety of jobs. These clamps tend to be larger and bulkier, however, making them unsuitable for smaller, more meticulous jobs involving small parts.

Sometimes woodworking clamps are specially designed for specific purposes. A corner clamp, for example, may be designed to hold two pieces of wood together at a 90-degree angle. This clamp would be useful for gluing or screwing the corners of a picture frame together, or even the corners of a desk, bookcase, and so on. Such a clamp can be used for any application in which two pieces of wood need to be held together at this specific angle, but it will not be useful for other purposes or other angles in most cases.

C-clamps are also commonly used in woodworking, though these often need to be used with protective blocks to prevent damage to the piece being clamped. These C-shaped clamps feature a solid metal frame with a screw brace threaded through the bottom. This screw brace can grip the piece against the other end of the clamp, though it is likely that without a block this brace will damage the piece being clamped.

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