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What is a Joint Clamp?

By Ron Marr
Updated Jan 27, 2024
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A joint clamp is one of the most invaluable tools in the arsenal of the woodworker. Depending upon what sort of project is under construction – be it a table, chest of drawers, guitar, or birdhouse – the end result will consist largely of glued joints. In most cases, a joint clamp is the tool that holds two or more pieces of wood together while they are being glued. When the glue is dry, if the craftsman has performed his job correctly, the joint will be strong and complete.

Just as there are an infinite number of joints in woodworking, there are an equal number of different joint clamps. Some are geared for a specific purpose, while others can suffice quite well on any number of different joints. The purpose of all is to place a stationary pressure on the pieces of wood to be connected. A talented woodworker realizes that two pieces of wood that have been glued in a joint are stronger than a single piece of wood with the same configuration. Thus, he spares no expense on joint clamps.

For instance, a wooden handscrew clamp is common in most workshops, and has been used by woodworkers for centuries. A joint clamp of this design can be adjusted as needed, and is particularly handy for surfaces that are not parallel. Another popular joint clamp is the C clamp. These devices are usually made of steel, are available in sizes from tiny to huge, and can be tightened or loosened as needed. Just a sampling of other joint clamps include the bar clamp. pipe clamp, quick-action clamp, picture frame clamp, and four-way equal pressure clamp.

Without the use of a joint clamp, a woodworker would be forced to rely on screws, bolts, pegs, nails, or specially designed joints to connect one piece of wood to another. While this method could effectively create a joint that would support the desired weight or withstand a pre-determined amount of stress, it would be neither as strong nor aesthetically pleasing as a glued joint set in place via a joint clamp. Joint clamps are irreplaceable in permanently fixing wood joints that, after sanding and finishing, are virtually seamless. Furthermore, the ingenious design of many joint clamps, both those created in modern times and those that were designed hundreds of years ago, serve as a labor saving device of the highest magnitude. If the joint clamp were not available, a woodworker would spend endless hours cutting intricate connection points and countersinking connective hardware.

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