Are 3/4" Pipes Overkill?


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So I'm about to expand my clamp collection, and I will be purchasing a few sets of Bessey pipe clamps.  My current pipe clamps are 3/4", and the 4' ones are a little cumbersome, so I'm wondering if 3/4" black pipe is overkill, and if anyone has experienced any problems with 1/2" black pipe.

Obviously I would love to buy nicer clamps, but I'm a hobbyist on a really tight budget (is there anything worse?)

Thanks.  I'm so glad I found this site, you guys are the best!

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I have a bunch of pipe clamps since before the parallel ones became popular.  All the 3/4 ones are still good, and all the 1/2" ones are bent.  I've even used connectors to make 60' long pipe clamps with 20 foot sections of 3/4 black pipe working on houses.  The 20 foot pipes have been hanging at the top of a wall in one of the shops for decades, and stlll are called on once in a while.

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I have caused my 3/4" pipes to flex so I think 1/2" would be too weak.  That being said, pipe comes in different wall thickness.  schedule 40 is standard, schedule 80 is thicker.  1/2" schedule 80 pipe is about the same wall thickness as 3/4" schedule 40.    

Also, I have galvanized and black pipe clamps.  PVA glue can react with the coating on black pipe and get all over you work.  I don't if galvanized is more expensive.  My dad made my galvanized pipe clamps back in the 1980s. 

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Something to be aware of with galvanized. If the zinc coating is very thick, it will creep because it is quite soft. I ended up tossing all my  3/4" galvanized pipe & going to black because of trouble with the clamp fitting not gripping well. They are Jorgenson clamps. Others may vary

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I learned the black pipe stain lesson the hard way.  I think it was my very first red oak panel.  I use pipe insulation or wax paper between the project and pipes now.

I do like those Jorgensen clamps, a lot of size options too.  HD has a good deal on 50" Bessey K-Body, $40 I think, so I'll probably pull the trigger on those when I start to cross items off my wish list. 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 2/5/2016 at 4:05 PM, Mike. said:

I have caused my 3/4" pipes to flex so I think 1/2" would be too weak.  That being said, pipe comes in different wall thickness.  schedule 40 is standard, schedule 80 is thicker.  1/2" schedule 80 pipe is about the same wall thickness as 3/4" schedule 40.    

Also, I have galvanized and black pipe clamps.  PVA glue can react with the coating on black pipe and get all over you work.  I don't if galvanized is more expensive.  My dad made my galvanized pipe clamps back in the 1980s. 

Stiffness of pipe is a largely a function of diameter.  So matching wall thickness on 1/2 pipe won't help much as far as making it as stiff as 3/4"

Kind of wish they made 1" pipe clamps.

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2 hours ago, Hurricane Dry said:

Stiffness of pipe is a largely a function of diameter.  So matching wall thickness on 1/2 pipe won't help much as far as making it as stiff as 3/4"

Kind of wish they made 1" pipe clamps.

Ya, even the 3/4 flex too much for my liking & heavier wall thickness would just make them, well, too heavy.

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One of the contractors I worked with years ago had both 1/2" and 3/4" pipe clamps. I never really liked the 1/2" clamps that were set up on 5' lengths (10' pipe cut in half.) But I thought they were fine for short clamps like 3' or so and under. 

For anything longer I always preferred the 3/4" pipe. 

Pipe clamps are a great way to create a flexible clamping system. I can take the heads off my 5' pipe sections, join them with other sections and create longer clamps when needed. Not to mention that I have a few 10' sticks of 3/4" pipe and I will place the clamps heads on them when doing larger glue-ups. 

Before I ever heard anything negative about using galvanized pipe I had already purchased it. Fortunately I have not had any of the problems with it at this point and I have been using them for many years. 

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