What clamp sizes do you use most often?


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I'm planning on heading to Lee Valley to pick up some F clamps. I managed to completely miss their better priced options when I looked before.

 

I'm thinking about picking up 4-6 24" clamps, since I find most of my needs are in the 18-24" range. What sizes do you guys usually use?

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18 minutes ago, Brendon_t said:

In f style I mostly use 12". I have 18" don't have 24 but I even notice the 18's are bendy.

Parallel, I use the piss out of my 24" sets.

Same here; shorter F-style clamps (12") and larger parallel clamps (24" & 31").

Depends on your work and if you are doing larger glue-ups, but you know you can never have too many clamps...

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Depends on what projects you have on the horizon.  I have done mostly small projects and find I use 6" and 12" almost equally often.  The 6" is mainly used when clamping cauls for panel glue-up and the 12" ones for most other clamping operations.  However I have more cabinetmaking projects coming up and find I am short on 18" clamps.  Most of my clamps are Jorgensens or Bessey Tradesmen's with thicker bars to avoid flexing. 

Like Brendon_t, I use parallel clamps at 24" and up.  

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Thanks guys. I picked up a couple of the 24 inch "heavy duty" clamps based on your comments (and because I knew I needed at least a couple in that size). They seem similar to the tradesman clamps. Parallel clamps are expensive north of the border, with no annual sales. I was planning to get at least 4, but they only had 2, so I guess I'll try them out before I get more. Unfortunately, they don't come in 18 inch, which I figure would be enough for most things I do.

Marc's toy box is my next project, hopefully closely followed by my workbench. That's the project I'm definitely deficient in clamps for.

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I got it via email on Wed., said it was for 10 days only and limited stock. I called my local Rockler and had them set 2 sets aside for me and will pick up tomorrow.

Ok, I screwed up. I called Rockler just as they were closing. The deal does not include the gift card. He said there was some confusion and apparently I was part of it. Clamps and blocks are $119.00.

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12 and 18 mainly here too in the light duty ones which work fine for medium sized stuff. I have some heavy duty Jet F clamps that have heavy steel bars that are 24" and 36" and no bending on those, they were cheaper then parallels but more expensive then the lighter duty ones that do bend. I think they were worth it when working on larger cabinets or glue ups that require more pressure. 

I am liking the parallels too though they are more expensive, I think they are worth the price. I just got 4 Jet parallels ( 2 each of 24" and 32") for $99 with free shipping on one of the holiday sales in December and those are really nice. When I was making an island for the kitchen last year, I bought a couple of 48" Jorgensen parallels and those are pretty sweet if you do anything large. 

-Jim

 

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"What sizes do you use most often" is almost an impossible question for the hobbyist to answer since his projects tend to be disparate in scale.  Unless you build one thing over and over again, ultimately you'll need an array of clamp sizes and styles.  That's why the best advice when it comes to clamps (as well as tools) is...buy the ones that you need for THIS project.  Build, repeat.  Eventually you'll have a complete set.  12" and 24" are great until you go to build a dining table.

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The size I USE mosy often are 6" F-style. Not necessarily for glue up, but for holding stop blocks, temporary jigs, portable work lights, etc... I have a bunch of the HF variety. Which I noticed William Ng using in a recent video. Surprised me, because aside from the shorties, he was using some longer ones that flexed like crazy. All the while, there was a rack full of what appeared to be Bessys in the background.

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After a certain length the f-style clamps flexes too much.   I'm not sure what the magic number is but I know I had some 36" ones that would bow like crazy when I used them.  I got rid of them and  don't think I have anything over 18" (rest are parallel).  I have some longer squeeze clamps but they don't really get used for glue up.  That said I would get the longest ones that you would need but not flex.  Maybe someone with more f-style clamps could enlighten us on the magic number.   Longer clamps will always work with smaller projects, maybe be a little cumbersome but it will work.  Then as you do more projects you can see what lengths of the smaller clamps you would use the most. 

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"What sizes do you use most often" is almost an impossible question for the hobbyist to answer since his projects tend to be disparate in scale.  Unless you build one thing over and over again, ultimately you'll need an array of clamp sizes and styles.  That's why the best advice when it comes to clamps (as well as tools) is...buy the ones that you need for THIS project.  Build, repeat.  Eventually you'll have a complete set.  12" and 24" are great until you go to build a dining table.

Yeah, I kind of figured this point would be brought up. I've got a couple clamps in most sizes up to 36 inches, but a lot of them are just the quick clamp style. I want to get a full complement eventually, but right now I want to pick up a few F clamps in the sizes where I get the most bang for my buck. A better question could have been which clamps to buy first, but i figure i can find workarounds if there are sizes i would very rarely use.

I definitely need to get more for building a workbench, which is why I'm shopping for them right now, but I could have used them on my last projects. I seem to keep building things with outside dimensions in the 16-20 inch range, which is why I'm initially thinking 24 inch to start. Seems like a 36 inch clamp would just start to get way too unwieldy for a small glue up.

Besides, if I build a dining table I have a great excuse to go buy more clamps.

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I'm happy with the clamps I did get so far. They seem pretty decent for the price.

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58 minutes ago, wtnhighlander said:

@jussi - I think the length at which a F-style clamp bows under pressure varies a lot by make and model. I have 18" clamps from Harbor Freight that bow if I crank 'em hard, but also some 36" Bessy clamps that don't bow at all.

Exactly Ross.  My 36" F-styles are the German-made Bessey Tradesman ones...the bars on those are almost as heavy (maybe the same) as the parallel clamps.  If you make those things flex then you need to work on your joinery skills.

Worrying about the flexing I also find a bit perplexing (poetry) because if you're making a clamp flex you're probably using it for an improper application.  The smaller clamps with thinner bars are for light-duty jobs and can't be expected to exert the same force a heavy-duty clamp exerts.  Just like everything else...different tools for different jobs and you have to pay more to get more.

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5 hours ago, wtnhighlander said:

@jussi - I think the length at which a F-style clamp bows under pressure varies a lot by make and model. I have 18" clamps from Harbor Freight that bow if I crank 'em hard, but also some 36" Bessy clamps that don't bow at all.

Absolutely.  All of my HF clamps started deforming after a handful of uses.  They still do the job but the clamps were no longer straight.  There is something to be said about quality control even if the country of origin is the same.  Between my straight bar F-style clamps, my 6" Bessey F-style clamps are made in China, but they are way better than the HF ones.  I would like to believe that my made in USA Jorgensens are better, but I have yet to see either the Besseys or Jorgensens flex.

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On 1/23/2016 at 10:24 AM, wtnhighlander said:

The size I USE mosy often are 6" F-style. Not necessarily for glue up, but for holding stop blocks, temporary jigs, portable work lights, etc... I have a bunch of the HF variety. Which I noticed William Ng using in a recent video. Surprised me, because aside from the shorties, he was using some longer ones that flexed like crazy. All the while, there was a rack full of what appeared to be Bessys in the background.

Same here. I use my 6" F-styles for various work holding/jig-holding tasks in addition to using one or two in some fashion during most glue-ups.  All the ones I have are the spring-assisted type.

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