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The Best Woodworking Clamps For Your Projects – 2021

Popular: Bessey Pipe Clamps

Best Woodworking Clamps For Panels

Bessey Pipe Clamp

The best woodworking clamps depend on the size of your projects, the type of clamping you need and your budget. But not all clamps were made the same, and the best way to choose a clamp is by its application.

Experienced woodworkers know you can never have enough pipe clamps for gluing panels. But they also know when to use parallel clamps, cabinet claws and right-angle clamps and that no one clamp can do everything.

In this guide learn what the best clamps are for:

  • Gluing wood panels
  • Assembling boxes like cabinets or drawers
  • Making face frames
  • Assembling cabinet doors
  • Positioning clamps during assembly
  • Cabinet claws to install cabinets
  • Toggle clamps for holding material
ProductProduct Desc.Shop
Best woodworking clamps - gluingBEST TO GLUE PANELS: Pipe Clamps (Bessey)CHECK PRICE
Best woodworking clamps - precisionPRECISION GLUING: Parallel Clamps (Bora)CHECK PRICE
Best woodworking clamps - hand clampsGENERAL CLAMPING: Hand Clamps (Milwaukee)CHECK PRICE
Best woodworking clamps - hand clampsCLAMP OR SPREAD: Trigger Clamps (Pony)CHECK PRICE

Types of Woodworking Clamps

Best Parallel Clamps

With over a dozen different styles of woodworking clamps it can be confusing on what you really need. And, as most woodworkers know, along the way you’ve probably used the wrong clamp to build your projects.

Which is why seasoned woodworkers know the following clamp types:

  1. Pipe clamps
  2. Parallel clamps
  3. Face clamps 
  4. Bar clamps (aka F-clamps)
  5. C-clamps
  6. Sash clamps
  7. Clamp heads
  8. Hand clamps
  9. Quick action (trigger) clamps
  10. Spring clamps
  11. Frameless cabinet clamps
  12. Corner clamps
  13. Cabinet claws
  14. Edge clamps
  15. Toggle clamps

Woodworking Clamps to Glue Panels

When gluing wood panels most woodworkers will opt for inexpensive clamps that offer up a high clamping force and allow for stable gluing. 

While other types of clamps can work, its usually best to stick with one of the following panel gluing clamps.

Best woodworking clamps - pipe clamps 

Pipe clamps are a mainstay of cabinet makers. As a budget friendly clamp they work great for larger projects and offer up a cheap way to glue wood panels. And deliver a MASSIVE amount of pressure.

Overview

 
  • First, you’ll need to purchase black pipe to screw these clamps to. 
  • Purchase a variety of pipe from 36-72″. I prefer mostly 60″.
  • Use pads or a sacrificial scrap wood to avoid denting your project
  • Lastly make sure to use even pressure when clamping

Purchasing Guide

  • Wide clamp base to prevent clamps from tipping during assembly of your project.
  • Tall stance so you can turn the clamp handle over the bench surface.
  • Non-mar pads for finished edges like a face frame.
  • Black pipe size is either 1/2″ or 3/4″ and unless you have a need for lightweight pipe choose 3/4″ for strength.

Best woodworking clamps - parallel clamps 

Overview

Of all the woodworking clamps, a parallel clamp is perhaps the least understood.

First, it is called a parallel clamp for the simple reason the jaws stay perfectly parallel as pressure is applied.

While a bar clamp will “flex” as pressure is applied this won’t happen as the screw on the parallel clamp is tightened. 

It’s for that reason this precision clamps is best for:

  • Gluing cabinet doors as it won’t mar the door edges
  • Furniture making tasks such as clamping desks, coffee tables or end tables
  • Assembling drawer boxes (if you aren’t dovetailing them)

Purchasing Considerations

  • Length of the bar is fixed and typically cannot be swapped out
  • Throat height for handling thicker material (3″+ is ideal)
  • Padded jaws that won’t damage the cabinet components

Best woodworking clamps - face clamps 

If you've used a Kreg jig you probably own a pair of these. But if not, a face clamp is a tried and true clamp for firmly holding just about anything.

Tips and Tricks

  • When applying heavy force on softwoods use a wood block to avoid dents
  • For finished cabinet surfaces (eg. hardware jigs) put blue tape on the jaw to prevent marring the surface
  • Drilling cabinet hardware with a cabinet hardware jig
  • Holding drawer slide jig in place

Purchasing Guide

  • Throat depth for reach “into” a cabinet or working space. A standard depth is around 4″, but depths of up to 12″ are available.
  • Throat height for handling thicker material

Best woodworking clamps - bar clamps 

An F-clamp is a great utility clamp with a deep jaw, high pressure and at a budget price (but please, stop using them for gluing panels!)

After spending quite a bit of time on woodworking forums I’m surprised at how many woodworkers buy an F-clamp for gluing up wood panels.

Please, stop using it for this. While they generate a high amount of pressure they are just plain clumsy for guiling panels. Instead, use a bar clamp (my preferred budget cabinet clamp), sash clamp or parallel clamp.

These are great clamps, but best used in tricky spots where you need the deep throat depth of the F-clamp to reach deeper into the cabinet or furniture edge. 

Purchasing Guide

  • I prefer these clamps in shorter lengths for smaller glue-up jobs
  • While not as powerful as a pipe or parallel clamp, this clamp should still be used with caution on softwoods.

Best woodworking clamps - c-clamps 

This is one of the oldest styles of woodworking clamps, but still used. I prefer to use them for clamping screw strips during cabinet assembly.

Tips and Tricks

  • Start with 3″ c-clamps … and buy a DOZEN. 
  • Use a padded version or blocks to avoid marring any type of wood

Purchasing Guide

  • Throat height for handling thicker material
  • Throat depth for clamping depth on larger projects

Best woodworking clamps - sash clamps 

Sash Clamps  (Grozy 60-inch)

Sash clamps are arguably the highest pressure clamp you can buy. And with an I-bar design will last for decades.

Chances are pretty good this clamp will end up in your estate sale. 

With a massive I-beam design, a sash clamp has the most pressure per square inch of any clamp in this article. And because of that, it’s favored for gluing up thicker counter and tabletops.

Tips and Tricks

  • This clamp is best used in a permanent glue station or for only very heavy applications.
  • Like other clamps, use padded blocks on finished edges

Purchasing Guide

  • Due to their weight and cost these are a clamp you typically upgrade to. One of the most common uses is for gluing large tables.

Best woodworking clamps - clamp heads 

Clamp heads are a mini-version of a pipe clamp and use the same design of two independent components that pair to apply a tight squeeze.

Tips and Tricks

  • This clamp is best used in a permanent glue station or for only very heavy applications.
  • Like other clamps, use padded blocks on finished edges

Purchasing Guide

  • This is a specialty clamp you’ll want to try first and then decide if you’ll need more.
  • On a SMALL budget they can replace pipe clamps. But will not perform as well.

Utility Cabinet Clamps

Best Woodworking Clamps for Utility Use

Not all steps in woodworking will require a heavy-duty, massive PSI clamp. 

And that’s especially true as your projects progress into installing cabinet hardware, holding drawer slide jigs and grabbing face frames with cabinet claws during installation.

So, let’s take a look at some lighter duty clamps that are still just as necessary.

Best woodworking clamps - hand clamps 

A hand clamp with INFINITE adjustment and a rotating head makes for a great pairing with cabinet jigs and various other tasks during cabinet assembly.

The Milwaukee hand clamp is one purchase I’ve never regretted. This general duty clamp is lightweight, has a massive clamping force and is inexpensive enough to always add a pair to your toolbox. 

And, if you’re just starting out, these are a viable alternative to the Kreg face clamp as they can generate enough force to hold a drawer slide jig, cabinet hardware jig or whatever other jig you have in mind.

Best woodworking clamps - trigger clamps 

Trigger Clamps  (Pony Jorgensen)

A quality trigger clamp will be used in just about every phase of cabinet construction.

Tips and Tricks

  • Look for a trigger clamp that is reversible to a “spreader clamp” that can be used to reverse clamp or be used as a base cabinet jack

Purchasing Guide

  • Skip the 10-packs and buy a pair of high quality clamps.
  • Large, high-grip pads are a must
  • Consider a few lengths for variety of clamping jobs

Best woodworking clamps - edge clamps 

Wood Edge Spring Clamp  (Rockler Bandy)

If your project will involve clamping strips to the edges of shelving or for just general duty clamping a bandy clamp will assist.

Tips and Tricks

  • A “Bandy clamp” like the Rockler version shown provides a useful 2-in-1 for a good value. And provides a 3rd dimension of clamping force for edge gluing.
  • But I like to have a dozen or so of these for holding wood screw strips on cabinet boxes.

Purchasing Guide

  • Consider a variety of clamp sizes from 1″ up to 6″
  • Look for padded clamp surfaces with soft handles for ease of grip

Best woodworking clamps - FastCap Jack and Clamp 

Woodworking Spreader Clamp  (FastCap Jack of All Trades)

From assembling to being a must have for installing frameless clamps a set of 2-in-1 clamps and spreaders will help your build

Tips and Tricks

  • Use a shorter clamp for connecting frameless cabinets. And for most upper cabinets use 2-3 to ensure a tight fit along the full length of the cabinet face.

Purchasing Guide

  • A 2-in-1 frameless clamp and jack will provide the best installation flexibility
  • Use 6-12″ for cabinet sides (narrow cabinets)

Specialty Woodworking Clamps

Corner Cabinet Clamp

In our last category let’s explore some of the more popular “specialty” woodworking clamps that can be used for cabinet making.

First, these aren’t clamps you’ll use every day.

Or, for even all cabinet jobs.

Instead these are clamps that are good at one specific task and when you need them, well, you need them.

Best woodworking clamps - corner clamps 

For assembling cabinet boxes or furniture these clamps are like an extra hand. Plus, they'll keep the sides at 90-degress.

Tips and Tricks

  • Mount to bench to avoid slipping during drilling or screwing

Purchasing Guide

  • For maximum clamping pressure look for a sliding t-handle versus a single round grip.
  • Support for two pieces of different thickness

Best woodworking clamps - cabinet claw 

Cabinet claws are a MUST when installing face frame cabinets. With bi-directional clamping and a guide to drill face frame screws you won't regret this purchase.

Tips and Tricks

Purchasing Guide

  • Look for felt pads to avoid marring finished cabinet surfaces
  • A swing-away pilot hole bushing with a LONG 1/8″ drill bit is a must

Best woodworking clamps - toggle clamps 

Toggle clamps are extremely handy for DIY router and table saw sleds as they have very high clamping pressure and are easy to adjust.

Tips and Tricks

  • Use with a fixed jig or sled to hold wood pieces for routing and shaping
  • Or, strategically mount on bench to hold work pieces during sanding or assembly

Purchasing Guide

  • Large, firm padded clamp surface
  • Easy to adjust

Best woodworking clamps - edge clamps 

Woodworking Edge Clamp  (Bessey KT5)

For gluing face frames to cabinets or holding work pieces in place during assembly this niche clamp is a good one to have around.

Tips and Tricks

  • Avoid nail holes in cabinet face frames with an edge clamp – great in combination with pipe clamps for “center of cabinet” spots a pipe clamp can’t reach.

Purchasing Guide

  • These clamps can be hard to find so due to that I recommend looking at pairing an edge clamp, like the Bessey, with a high quality bar clamp where the bar clamp provides one direction of clamping.

Frequently Asked Questions for Cabinet Clamps

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best clamp to glue wood panels?

Pipe clamps are the most economical and easiest way to clamp to glue wood panels.

How do I choose bar clamps?

Bar clamps should be purchased for the amount of pressure they can apply. Then second, the length of the bar is important as having a clamp too short will prevent it from being useful.

What clamps should I have for woodworking?

Woodworkers should have bar clamps for gluing panels, parallel clamps for assembling furniture and a variety of hand clamps to assist with jigs and assembly tasks.

Summary - Best Cabinet Clamps

Hopefully this article helped you explore cabinet clamps you may not have used before.  For more information be sure to check out our other articles on building and installing cabinets below.

Resources

Manufacturer sites:

2 thoughts on “The Best Woodworking Clamps For Your Projects – 2021”

  1. I am unfortunate in having MDF cabinets with vinyl covering throughout my home. A plumber put a hot light on my cabinet and created a bubble on the bathroom cabinet door. The bubble is in a recessed line on the cabinet and regular cmaps won’t allow me to regain the correct shape. ANY IDEAS

  2. Kevan –

    Thanks for asking – you could look at using a shaped piece of wood that matches the recessed line and has a flat side for the clamp to apply pressure. There are deeper throated welding clamps if you need to reach 6 to 12″ into the door.

    Thanks,
    Eric

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