How to use clamps in wooodworking

To make certain that a glued joint will hold properly and that maximum strength will be achieved, adequate pressure must be applied to the individual parts while the glue is setting. To apply this pressure, some type of wood clamp will be required, or some form of clamping arrangement must be devised.

While wood clamps are made in hundreds of different sizes and styles, many of these are highly specialized models, designed for industrial use only. The ordinary home handyman will find that most of his needs can be met with only a few inexpensive clamps which are available in all hardware stores. These are used not only for gluing, but for holding pieces temporarily in position while assembling joints with nails, screws or bolts–or while drilling holes through adjoining members which must be held in accurate alignment.

Probably the most frequently used of all clamps is the common C-clamp. It can be used for a wide variety of jobs around the house, and it comes in all sizes. Two or three, with maximum jaw openings of from 3 to 6 inches, will generally be sufficient for the home handyman’s toolbox. They will have either a wing-shaped handle or a sliding T-bar handle. Use these principally where surfaces are parallel (or nearly so) , and never try to get added pressure by using a wrench or bar on the handle to increase leverage. This will only warp the frame or bend the screw, and it may ruin the clamp.

The best all-round clamping tools for woodworking projects are the hand screws. Made of hard maple, these clamps have two screws and handles to provide parallel gripping pressure throughout the entire length of their jaws. To open or close them quickly, grasp one screw handle in each hand.

Both are then turned simultaneously by rotating the entire clamp between your hands so that the jaws revolve around the spindles. Rotating in one direction opens the jaws, while rotating in the other direction closes them.