Are Pipe Clamps Good for Woodworking?

Pipe clamps are clamping tools made from steel pipes. They’re available in different sizes and shapes that fit different needs. Pipe clamps are often used as a substitute for traditional clamps as they offer a more versatile option for clamping. 

A pipe clamp is great for woodworking because it provides a more stable platform for clamping pieces together, which is especially useful when using larger pieces of wood. You can also use pipe clamps to create a temporary frame or jig to hold the material securely while working on it. 

In this article, I’ll highlight everything you need to know about pipe clamps and whether they’re an excellent choice for woodworking.

Benefits of Using Pipe Clamps for Woodworking

Pipe clamps have a wide range of uses, such as holding or locking pieces together for gluing and joining them permanently with screws or nails.

Pipe clamps have at least a couple of advantages over traditional clamps: 

  • You can easily adjust them according to the need.
  • They have a more extended reach than conventional woodworking clamps.

A significant benefit of using pipe clamps is that they’re versatile. Pipe clamps are one of the most flexible types available, as you can use them to hold pieces of any length or width. They can also be adjusted to accommodate different shapes and sizes, so if you need to use them for something other than woodworking, they’ll still work well.

How To Use Pipe Clamps for Woodworking

Pipe clamps are an essential tool for woodworkers because they provide a way to compress pieces of wood together while keeping them aligned. Woodworkers use pipe clamps in various ways, depending on what they’re making and how much space they have to work with.

A pipe is attached to one side of the clamp and tightened by turning the screw on the other side, putting pressure on both sides of the piece you’re gluing or fixing. The resulting tension prevents the parts from moving or separating from each other during glue drying time.

You can adjust a pipe clamp to fit the length of the wood you’re working on and then tighten it by turning the screw. 

Watch this YouTube video to learn how to use a pipe clamp for your DIY projects:

Can Pipe Clamps Cause Board Bowing?

Pipe clamps are an easy and cost-effective way to hold boards together for gluing. To make a larger board, you can use pipe clamps to hold panels together in place for gluing. However, the way you use pipe clamps may cause issues such as board bowing.

Pipe clamps can cause board bowing if you do not use them properly. One of the most common mistakes is using pipe clamps too tightly and not leaving enough space between the boards, causing bowing in the board. 

The bowing will be visible when the glue dries and shrinks around it. 

Another mistake is using pipe clamps on both sides of a board, which causes more pressure on one side than on the other. In turn, that causes bowing in the board.

One way to avoid board bowing is by inserting a piece of wood or metal into the clamp before tightening it to keep the board in place, especially when gluing multiple pieces together.

Types of Pipe Clamps for Woodworking

Pipe clamps are an effective way to hold wood pieces together for gluing or assembly. If you’re a woodworker, you can choose from various pipe clamps. 

The main types of pipe clamps include:

  • Threaded
  • Non-threaded

You can use the above in woodworking projects such as furniture, cabinets, and other types of carpentry. 

The threaded type clamp has threads that allow it to screw onto the nut. Threaded pipe clamps come in three sizes: narrow, medium, and wide. The narrow size is used for smaller pieces, while medium or wide clamps can be used for larger pieces.

Non-threaded pipe clamps use a clutch mechanism where the pipe slides into the clamp end until it rests firmly against the back of the socket. This clamp doesn’t need threads to keep pieces firmly held together.

Factors To Consider When Choosing Pipe Clamps

Before choosing pipe clamps for your woodworking project, you need to consider three things: size, length, and type of pipe.

Size of Pipe Clamps (Half-Inch or Three-Quarter-Inch)

The best way to choose the size of pipe clamp for your needs is to measure the thickness of the pieces you need to glue together and use the pipe clamp of the appropriate size. Pipe clamps mainly come in two sizes — the half-inch (1.27 cm) or three-quarter-inch (1.9 cm). 

Half-inch pipe clamps are cheaper than three-quarter ones but aren’t as strong. Three-quarter-inch pipe clamps are more expensive, but they can hold more weight and clamp tighter than half-inch pipe clamps.

Choice of Pipe

When choosing a pipe clamp, you also need to consider the choice of pipe for your working needs. The most common pipes used for these clamps include the following:

  • Galvanized pipe
  • Black steel pipe

Galvanized Pipe

Galvanized pipe is a thin metal coated with zinc to protect it from rust. It’s an alternative to black steel pipe clamps, though it’s not as durable. You shouldn’t use the galvanized pipe where heat is involved (e.g., welding), because it releases toxic fumes harmful to your lungs.

Black Steel Pipe

Black steel pipes are ideal for woodworking because they’re not as expensive as galvanized pipes. Black steel pipe clamps are made of durable steel and have a soft, resilient pad that offers the perfect grip. They’re best for woodworking projects, and you can also use them to hold round and square pieces.

Length of Pipe

It’s essential to consider the length of the pipe when purchasing a pipe clamp. The length of the pipe will depend on what you want to do with it. For example, if you want to join two long pieces of wood together for a woodworking project, you’ll need a longer clamp.

Knowing the amount of space available in your working area is also essential before choosing longer pipes. The pipe should be long enough to allow for a good grip, but not too long that it’ll hinder movement. You’ll need a smaller pipe if you work with smaller furniture like cabinets. 

Pipe Clamps vs. Bar Clamps for Woodworking

Pipe clamps are tension clamps that tighten when you apply force to the pipe. They’re more efficient than bar clamps because the pipe doesn’t come into contact with the wood. Meanwhile, bar clamps are compression clamps, and they compress when force is applied. 

A bar clamp has an adjustable screw mechanism that tightens the clamping pressure on the object. It’s made from a steel bar with an adjustable screw mechanism at one end and a fixed handle at the other end. 

Pipe clamps work better for large projects, while bar clamps are more suitable for smaller projects. However, bar clamps aren’t as versatile as pipe clamps and can be challenging to use in tight spaces.

Final Thoughts

Pipe clamps are common in woodworking projects due to their versatility. They’re adjustable, so you can use them on different materials and shapes. They also come with various attachments so you can use them for other purposes like sanding or painting. 

The best pipe clamps are those with elevated feet since they keep your workpiece above the supporting surface, ensuring there is no contact with dirt.

Pipe clamps also have advantages over traditional clamps. They’re strong and have a wide range of applications, making them valuable additions to any workshop.

Damien Madeira

Damien has been doing woodworking for the last 5 years. He began as a hobbyist with hand tools and slowly worked his way up to own larger machines and mill rough wood into beautiful creations. While still considering himself a hobbyist, he has a passion for woodworking and enjoys working with epoxy as well.

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