You’d be in a bit of a sticky situation if you forgot to clamp your wood after you glued it together. But what use are wood clamps if you are always asking the same question: How do I use wood clamps properly?
When using wood clamps, place a piece of scrap wood between the clamp jaws to prevent damage, apply clamp load perpendicularly to prevent slippage, and always use two clamps to stop the wood from rotating. Make sure not to overtighten the clamps as this could cause damage to the wood and the clamp.
The rest of the article will explain several questions about using clamps, including a how-to guide, what clamps are used for what materials, what you should avoid doing, and safety tips.
How To Use Wood Clamps
Wood clamps are some of, if not the most accessible tool in a workshop, but there are still right and wrong ways to use them. This guide ensures you will use the tool correctly and save yourself from unnecessary mistakes.
Preparing Your Wood
The first step is to make sure your wood is ready to be clamped, whether you need to hold the pieces together while the glue dries or keep two components together while you’re working on them.
Clamps spread the glue evenly across the entire surface, creating the strongest bond between the two pieces when dried. Make sure both surfaces are flat before gluing them. A curve or bend could cause the bond agent not to work correctly.
Tightening the Clamps
When placing the clamps, put a piece of scrap wood between the clamp and the surface of the piece of wood you’re gluing. This should avoid any damage that tightening the clamp may cause.
Apply the clamps perpendicular to the load to avoid slippage, and ensure not to overtighten the clamps as this could cause damage to the wood. Always use two clamps to prevent the materials from rotating.
The final step is the most vital. You must wait long enough for the glue to dry correctly. Most wood glue will take around 24 hours to dry completely. The drying process can be slightly slower or faster depending on how much glue you use.
You can check the glue package for a more accurate estimate. You can use a heat lamp or a blow dryer to hurry the process, but I would advise you against it. You run the risk of having the piece fall apart after a couple of years.
Why Use Wooden Clamps
When appropriately used, wooden clamps allow pressure to be correctly distributed across a large surface area. They are much less likely to cause an error when holding two materials together. In most cases, the clamp should be tightened to fit the work snugly, leaving no gaps for air between the two pieces.
The clamp screw allows easy tightening and loosening while the pressure levels stay the same. No other hand tool or method could give you the accuracy and hold of the wooden clamp, making it a must for your workshop.
Types of Wooden Clamps
Selecting the perfect clamp is a common issue for many workers. This comprehensive list will help you find the clamp that suits your specific need.
The C-clamp is the most basic type of clamping device. It is made of two metal plates, hinged by a central screw and a spring. Various designs are available for multiple applications, including projects involving heavy-duty materials. The U-profile is designed to pinch objects within the jaw of the clamp.
F Clamp (Bar Clamp)
The f-clamp has been used by bricklayers since the early 20th century and is used for clamping materials together without causing splitting. It features a thicker wooden or metal bar than other clamps and ensures a tight grip on the material.
Similar to the f-clamp, the parallel clamp is great for woodworking. Its precision-machined jaws are designed to remain parallel so they can distribute the pressure uniformly. This prevents dimpling of the wood and gives you the maximum holding capacity.
Quick Action Clamps
One-hand-operated quick grip or quick action clamps are popular among professionals today. Depending on the manufacturer, they can be adjusted by turning or tightening the push handle. Quick action plans are designed to let the user place them quickly and with a single hand.
Locking clamps are the right choice for someone looking for speed over strength. They are ideal for welding and other activities involving a quick and popular clamp. Locking clamps are designed to be used with thin, irregular materials. You’ll see them mostly in metalworking, but they can still be used with wood.
Spring clamps are quick and very affordable. However, they don’t provide much clamping force and have a minimal range of motion. They are ideal for holding down a tent or preventing movement in a direction that isn’t not receiving any weight.
Bench clamps are screwed onto the workbench. They allow you to clamp any material quickly without having to reach for extra tools. You’ll typically see them installed on wooden tables, but they can also work with other materials with help of the right accessories.
With three separate screws, the edge clamp can control its position on both axes. This makes the clamps ideal for compressing parts for butt weld or glued assemblies. They are often used for holding down edges. Some of them are designed to be one-handed.
Tips for Using Wood Clamps
Here are a few things you should keep in mind when using wood clamps:
- Avoid any clamps that have a bent frame or spindle. Unless it’s there by design, the bent piece could cause functionality issues, leading to your materials not joining correctly. Check if the product is not meant to be bent before throwing away, as some wood clamps are intentionally bent to allow for a different type of hold.
- Use deep-throated clamps. If you need your clamp to reach into the piece you’re working with, you don’t need to choose an extra-large clamp. Instead, look for a clamp with a deep throat.
- Don’t tighten clamps with pipes, hammers, pliers, or wrenches unless it’s intended to be done that way. This could damage both the wood and the clamps.
- Always select the right size and type of clamp for the work. Consider the throat depth, ease of adjustment, type of surface, and the strength and weight it can hold. Selecting the wrong kind of clamp style could cause damage to yourself and the wood.
- Make sure the clamp works before using it. Check that the screw swivels in both directions so it can be tightened and loosened at will. Also, if you are using C-clamps, make sure to use pads to avoid indents.
- Keep all moving parts of clamps lightly oiled and clean. Oiling the clamp will make it easier to use, while keeping it clean will make sure no dirt or oil comes into contact with any material or parts of your work.
Wood clamps will definitely get you out of a few sticky situations. They are the best tool for holding two pieces together the bond agent dries. Use a spare piece of wood to ensure that no marks are left on the material after you release the clamps.
Don’t expect a single clamp to work for every situation. The key here is to pick the right clamp for the job. Sometimes you need the strength of a C-clamp, but if speed is your priority, you’ll be better of with a quick action clamp.