Home » Tools » The Best Parallel Clamps for Woodworking Projects
When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Disclaimers.

The Best Parallel Clamps for Woodworking Projects

Of all the woodworking clamps sold, the parallel clamp is arguably the most accurate.  But it is also the most expensive. And while the best parallel clamps come down to a bit of brand preference there are also features of the top clamp brand to consider.

First, a parallel clamp is as simple as two large jaws that stay parallel during assembly and clamping. 

Why do woodworkers want these types of clamps? Well, for precision glue-ups of boxes and furniture they outperform a standard pipe or f-clamp. And they won’t mar soft wood as easily, all of which make one of the following a great choice:

  • TOP VALUE: BORA PARALLEL CLAMPS have mid-range clamping pressure (1100#’s), large jaws and ergonomic design.
  • UPGRADE CHOICE: BESSEY K-BODY features top performance, 1700 pounds of pressure, the most accessories and widest variety of lengths.
  • BUDGET OPTION: POWERTEC 40-INCH have 880 pounds of clamping force, padded jaws and can reverse for spreading.

Buying Guide: Best Parallel Clamps

Woodworking Tools and Hardware Review

As most woodworkers know, a parallel clamp is expensive. 

While you can use bar or pipe clamps for gluing panels, when it comes to precision gluing without damaging the wood a parallel clamp is a justified purchase.

Features That Matter Between Brands

  • Jaws stay perfectly at 90-degrees while clamping
  • Reversible jaws
  • Clamping power in PSI
  • Comfort of grip (it is a twisting force)
  • Accessories like clamp blocks
  • Variety of lengths
  • Stainless steel bar

What is a Parallel Clamp

Let’s start off with understanding what makes a parallel clamp unique. First, and as you might have guessed, the jaws are not only parallel but offer a HUGE clamping surface that extends around 4″ from the I-beam design found on most of these clamps. 

Key features of these clamps:

  • Hand screw handle: most clamps use a screw handle to tighten the parallel jaws.
  • Wrench tightening: For extra clamping pressure some designs offer a hex nut that can be tightened with a wrench.
  • Spreader: with the I-beam design and movable jaws most parallel jaw clamps are a both a clamp and a spreader
  • Lengths: generally 12-50″ in total length
  • 90-degrees: high quality clamps will have jaws that stay at a, well, parallel 90-degrees during clamping.
  • Non-mar jaws: Lastly, and most importantly, versus their close cousin the pipe clamp, a parallel clamp is designed to NOT damage the wood it is clamping.

Who Makes Them: Manufacturers

Fortunately, all of the top clamp manufacturers are suppliers of these clamps:

Powertec is a little known brand in woodworking, but have a huge variety of tools at VALUE pricing. And in parallel clamps they offer up a good set of clamps on a budget.

Best Parallel Clamps

First, best is not always measured by most features. In fact, for a lot of woodworkers you can define best as meeting your budget OR a specific type of woodworking you do.

With that in mind, and after lengthy research, here are the best parallel clamps on the market:

1. Bessey K-Body Revolution (Most Force)

Cabinet Clamp - Bessey

When Bessey makes a clamp they go all out. 

And, with their REVOlution-series they offer a collection of parallel clamps that feature:

  • 1700 pounds of clamping force
  • Ergonomic handle with 6mm steel hex key socket
  • Converts to spreading quickly
  • Available in clamping capacity from 12-98″
  • 3-3/4″ throat depth
  • Heavy duty at just under 5 pounds up to over 13 pounds for a 98″ clamp

Accessories

While these clamps are expensive, they offer a few unique accessories vs. the competitors that make them more useful and worth the extra upfront cost:

  • K-Body tilting adapter for wider horizontal pressure
  • Framing set to hold clamps perpendicular (a MUST for four corner glue-ups)
  • K-Body extenders for increasing clamping range (without upgrading clamps)
  • Space clamping jaws for using multiple jaws on one rail
  • And to round out the list: table clamps, spare jaw pads, rail protection pieces, and end clips.

Pros

Cons

2. Pony Jorgensen

Jorgesson  Pipe Clamp

In woodworking clamps Pony and Bessey are always head to head.

And, that’s because they engineer clamps with top quality, similar features and have a solid brand reputation for durability over the long haul.

Key features of the Pony parallel clamps are:

  • 1500 pounds of clamping force
  • Rapid action jaws
  • Can stand vertically without holding
  • Available in clamping capacity from 12-72″
  • 3-3/4″ throat depth
The major drawback versus Bessey?  The Pony parallel jaw clamp doesn’t have the range of accessories.

Pros

Cons

3. BORA Portamate Parallel Clamps

Bora 90-Degree Clamp

If you frequent big box stores like Lowes you might have seen Bora before. And perhaps, like most, question if its a brand you can invest in or is a no-name import. Well,  if it helps, they date back to 2006 and are part of Affinity Tool Works. 

The bottom line: if you’re price comparing these are a solid clamp with all the basic features you’ll find in a Jet or Bessey. But for a lower price.

Pros

Cons

4. JET Parallel Clamps for Woodworking

JET Parallel Clamps for Woodworking

JET is a well known manufacturer of woodworking supplies and has a wide range of sizes in paralllel clamps. And as a testament to their durability, their clamps come with the JET RED Assurance lifetime warranty.

Key features:

  • Size range from 12″ to 98″
  • Non-marring composite resin jaw faces
  • Precision-rule measurement system
  • Up to 1000 pounds clamping pressure

Pros

Cons

5. BESSEY K-Body Junior

BORA Junior parallel Clamp

Want a parallel clamp that's more compact, lighter weight and good for portability to the job site? This junior version of the Bessey might be a good place to start.

For parallel clamp precision but in a smaller form, Bessey offers the “K-Body Junior” collection of clamps that range from 12 to 50 inches, weigh just under 3 to almost 5 pounds (varying by length) and offer up to 900 pounds of clamping force.

Why choose these clamps? Well, consider:

  • Smaller projects 
  • Projects with many clamps required (cost, weight of glue-up)
  • Compact for storage or use in a construction vehicle

Pros

Cons

6. POWERTEC Clamps (Budget Pick)

Powertec parallel Clamp

Want to get into a set of parallel clamps on a budget? These highly rated POWERTEC clamps are a great way to start out.

If you are looking for quantity versus high end cost, then Powertec is a niche woodworking manufacturer that produces a range of woodworking products.

And at a worthy discount to other manufacturers of parallel clamps that lets you buy a few more clamps.

Key features:

  • 3-3/4″ throat depth
  • 880 pounds clamping force
  • Pressure release
  • Removable end rail clip
  • Soft grip handle

Pros

Cons

Alternatives to a Parallel Clamp

While every clamp type is unique, there is usually a clamp or two that can be substituted. And the pipe clamp is arguably the closest in design and function you’ll find as an alternative.

Parallel Clamp vs. Pipe Clamp

How to Glue Wood Panels
Pipe clamps used to glue up drawer side panels

If you’re not sure you need the precision features of a parallel jaw clamp one of the best alternatives to a parallel clamp is a pipe clamp.

  • Advantages: Pipe clamps are cheaper, length can be customized with black pipe they use, and they can apply a massive clamping force
  • Disadvantages: But, pipe clamps can damage wood if the work piece isn’t padded, they have shorter jaws and the jaws aren’t designed to be parallel.

Screw Clamp vs. Parallel Jaw Clamp

The deep throat screw clamps are a great utility clamp. But, their design is inherently clumsy for the one job a parallel clamp is best at: precision clamping.  

Sash Clamp vs. Parallel Jaw Clamp

Meanwhile, the powerful sash clamp is the king of wood clamping power. And while most commonly used to glue up heavy duty tabletops a sash clamp can be used for many of the same jobs as parallel jaw clamps.

How to Use a Parallel Jaw Clamp

Once your parallel clamps arrive you’ll want to do a little playing around with them to make sure you find the best uses for a parallel clamp.

Tips to Using a Parallel Clamp

Like most clamps there are always a few ways to use them right. And, a few ways to use them wrong. 

Here’s a few pointers on parallel clamps you’ll want to keep in mind:

  1. Glue: be careful with the glue to keep it off the clamp body – and especially off the non-mar pads.
  2. Framing body: the reason Bessey is #1 is they offer up the framing body that will allow you to stack two clamps perpendicular. 
  3. Clean bars: be sure to cleanup the bars after every use. While pipe clamps are easy to “slide and scrape”, as a more precision tool you’ll want to keep your expensive parallel jaw clamps clean.

Storage Racks for Parallel Clamps

Parallel Clamp Storage 

First off, I’m guilty of just storing my pipe clamps anywhere. And while they have a rugged design that’s impossible to break, a parallel jaw clamp should be treated with care. So either invest in a manufactured storage rack or custom build one for keeping these clamps safe from accidental damage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need parallel clamps?

If your woodworking projects include cabinetry or making high quality small furniture you’ll want to consider adding a non-marring parallel jaw clamp to your toolbox. Due to a precision 90-degree jaw, non-mar pads and a huge clamping force they will handle delicate jobs with ease.

How many clamps do you need?

For this type of clamp I recommend starting with just two. And, if after use, you find you want to buy more you’ll know the lengths and quality you’ll want in your next purchase.

How long of a parallel clamp should I buy?

With the primary use of these being for cabinet door assembly and similar sized boxes or furniture a 24″ or 40″ pair is a great starting point. Due to weight and space, a longer clamp may be too much. And a 12″ clamp too short for most panel-sized glue jobs.

Summary

Hopefully this article was useful in helping you understand more about what the best parallel clamps feature and what might be best for your projects.

If you haven’t used one before you’ll quickly find they are a premium woodworking clamp and one to add to your shopping list.

Professional Woodworking Tools
Professional Woodworking Tools: 10 Tools I Wish I’d Bought Sooner

Surprisingly, professional woodworking tools aren’t just the top of the line in miter saws or table saws. Instead, the tools professionals use for woodworking are unique in their capability and are built to improve speed and quality of the work. For example, most DIY woodworkers start with pocket hole joinery and possibly dowel jigs or biscuits. But a professional uses advanced wood joinery tools like a Festool DOMINO to create loose tenon joints. After almost thirty years of woodworking my

Read More »
Best Router for Router Table and Lifts
The Best Router for Router Tables and Lifts

The best router for router table use is always one that will fit a router lift. But, features like ease of bit change, electronic speed control, and a wide range of speed adjustment are also required. However, before jumping in and buying your router, its best to pick a router lift and router together. While you can use a router in a table without a lift, a lift will make your projects easier, faster and arguably improve quality. In this

Read More »
Wood Vise in Cabinetmakers Top
The Best Woodworking Vises, Types and How To Mount Them

Woodworking vises free up your hands to carve, screw, drill or do whatever task is needed while your work stays securely in place. But, choosing the right type of vise and mounting location isn’t as obvious as it might seem. Learn why woodworkers prefer a vise like the aptly named    for its versatility, compactness and all-wood jaws plus other types of woodworking vises. A vises number one job is hold onto your woodworking piece when you need it. And then

Read More »
Power Tool Brands for Woodworking
9 Unique Tool Brands For Serious Woodworkers

Makita vs. Dewalt. Milwaukee vs. Festool. Woodworkers are used to comparing tool brands to decide what their next tools should be. But what most woodworkers miss is the unique tool brands that make woodworking faster, easier and improve quality. For example, FastCap has a glue bottle that takes the hard squeeze out of that Titebond bottle your stressed hand is used to gripping. Or, Powertec has a huge line of high quality tools at a much discounted price vs. large

Read More »
Workbench Organization Storage
Easy Workbench Organization With These Unique Solutions

Workbench organization isn’t just important for looks. It makes projects easier to start (and finish) and reduces time spent hunting for tools and supplies. In this guide learn how a few minutes time will have your bench upgraded from messy to tidy with easy to use products like: PEGBOARD ORGANIZERS: will quickly organize tools and parts. And free up valuable bench space. PROFESSIONAL SCREW ORGANIZERS: is a see-through and portable solution for small part and screw organization. BENCHTOP TOOL ORGANIZERS:

Read More »
Best Cabinet Hardware Jigs and Templates
The Best Cabinet Hardware Jigs And Templates for Doors

The best cabinet hardware jigs are designed to be used for jobs of any size, are made from all metal components and are easy to use. But, for budget minded projects or one-time use, a less expensive jig with a reputation for durability and precision is what DIY’ers or occasional woodworkers will choose.  But, most importantly, the top cabinet hardware jigs will work on all styles of doors, including shaker cabinets that have a challenging inset face. So what makes

Read More »
Best Benchtop Planers Thickness
Guide To Benchtop Planers for Small Workshops

While some woodworkers get by without one, a benchtop planer is usually a must for any woodworker. But finding a quality wood planer that will put a great finish on both hardwoods and softwoods can be difficult. And, since there many types of planers, its worth noting that a benchtop planer typically features: Straight or helical blades Support for boards up to 13-inches (33 cm) Single phase 15-amp motors Adjustable height up to 6-inches (15.2 cm) Single or two speed

Read More »
Best Orbital Sander for Woodworking
Choosing The Best Random Orbital Sander For Your Budget

Until you’ve connected a random orbital sander to a dust extractor you don’t know what you’re missing. Which is why the best random orbital sanders are both great at removing wood but also have the features and power professionals turn to. After using every type of random orbit sander to build cabinets and furniture the simple answer to which random orbital sander is best comes down to owning two orbital sanders: Cordless. There’s no reason to drag a cord around the

Read More »

Need Help Finding Wood?

Everyone does. Signup for a FREE hardwood directory that organizes 300+ hardwood retailers across the USA.

Disclaimer: DIY projects can be dangerous, hire a professional (link to Home Advisor) if unsure.

free wood (knowledge)

All you need to do is sign-up and as a BONUS receive a guide to 300+ lumber retailers (with price lists).

***CHECK YOUR SPAM FOLDER***