What Woodworking Clamps Do I Need? 3 Essential Clamps + Tips

Woodworking clamps come in many forms and sizes.
You may need them for a variety of reasons for the projects you are working on, such as to clamp down after gluing or to hold parts in place while you work.
There are many types and styles of clamps, and that’s why it’s so hard to figure out what kind of woodworking clamps you should have in your workshop at a minimum.

To help you with that, I did some research and wrote this in-depth article, so you can find the perfect woodworking clamps for your workshop.

The 3 woodworking clamps you really need in a workshop are the spring clamp, the one-handed bar clamp, and the pipe clamp, which allows you to handle most projects in your woodworking shop.

In this article, I want to take a closer look at these 3 essential woodworking clamps and let you know why these clamps are the best choice for your workshop.
I’ll also go over the different brands and their features, so you can find an answer to your question about what are the best clamps for woodworking, and you can filter the clamps that fit your needs.

Disclosure: At zero cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. I earn from qualifying purchases as an Amazon associate. Products featured are selected based on quality, performance, and reputation, regardless of affiliate relationships.

Woodworking clamps are an essential part of any workshop.

Woodworking is an area of home improvement that is becoming increasingly popular.
Woodworking is something that anyone can learn and do.
There are many types of woodworking projects, and woodworkers make many things, such as cabinets, furniture, toys, etc.

No matter what projects you are working on, you will always need clamps.
These clamps are very important for woodworking, I can tell you that for sure.
I use my clamps for 99% of my projects.

The most common mistake woodworkers make is having a variety of different types of woodworking clamps, and only using a few of them.
It’s a shame to make the wrong investment, isn’t it?

So one of the most important things to know if you have a workshop is the different types of woodworking clamps that are out there.

Once you know what types of woodwork clamps manufacturers offer, you can make a selection of the woodworking clamps you can use for your projects.
That is what you will discover in this article.

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When should you use wood clamps?

As I mentioned earlier, woodworking clamps are a very important tool in a workshop.

Clamps can be used for a variety of tasks. You can use woodworking clamps to hold parts in place to work safely and accurately, you can use them as a sort of third hand, or you can use them to hold boards tightly together for the best joint.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when working with wood, whether you are building furniture or making some sort of decorative object, is how to do it most accurately and safely.
That’s where clamps come in handy.
I use my woodwork clamps all the time to hold pieces in place, so they don’t move while I am working on them.
I can not imagine what would happen if the piece of wood flew off when the rapidly rotating saw blade or router bit caught it.
So, safety always comes first.

Safety first!

Be prepared for any accidents. Make sure you have a first aid kit in your workshop. Discover how to put together a first aid kit in this article.

A second way to use clamps on woodworking projects is to use them as a sort of third hand.
Fastening boards with screws, nails, dowels, or metal brackets can be a tricky task. You need to hold two pieces of wood in the right position and on top of that, you need to operate your cordless drill to drive the screw into the wood.
If you hold these pieces together with woodworking clamps, you can drive the screw in without worrying that the joint will be off-center.

The last and most well-known use of woodworking clamps is, of course, to fasten boards together by gluing them together. You can apply a lot of force to the boards until the wood glue is dry.
Another benefit, when you can apply a lot of force thanks to clamps, is that you can be sure that the joint will be seamless.

You see, every wood shop should have a few clamps in every toolbox.
A woodworker needs to know when and how to use them.
But how can a woodworker decide what kind of clamps to use?
To give you an idea, I have compiled a list below of the most common types of clamps and their uses.

Ebook part 1 woodworking basics

What are the different types of clamps used in woodworking?

There are a lot of different types of clamps used in a woodworking workshop.
To know which is the right woodworking clamps for your needs will depend on the project and the type of wood being used.

That is why I will list the most common woodworking clamps that are available and their features. That way, you can figure out what type of clamp is the one you will use the most.

The common types of woodworking clamps are:

  • C-clamps
  • Bench clamps
  • Parallel clamp
  • Picture frame clamp
  • Toggle clamp
  • Spring clamps
  • Bar clamps
  • One hand bar clamps
  • Pipe clamps
  • hand screw clamp
  • Locking clamp
What woodworking clamps do I need 3 Essential clamps & helpful tips C clamps


This clamp takes its name from its C-shape. The opening of the C-clamp ranges from 1 inch (2.54 cm) to about 8 inches (20.32 cm), which is quite small. Thanks to its rotating head, you can use this type of clamp to attach parts to many surfaces. The advantage is that a lot of force can be applied with the C-clamp.

What woodworking clamps do I need 3 Essential clamps & helpful tips Bench clamps

Bench clamps

When you are working on a workbench, sometimes the workpieces need to be fastened to the bench in the middle of the surface. An ordinary clamp cannot accomplish this, but a bench clamp accomplishes just that. The high pressure that this type of clamp can create presses the tool firmly against the bench, preventing it from slipping.

What woodworking clamps do I need 3 Essential clamps & helpful tips Parallel clamp

Parallel clamps

Parallel clamps offers large and wide opening capacities and the jaws remain parallel. Thanks to these parallel jaws, no dents will be left in the wood, even with increased loads, in order to obtain a large distribution surface. This makes this type of clamp ideal for the manufacture of furniture.

What woodworking clamps do I need 3 Essential clamps & helpful tips Picture frame clamps

Picture frame clamps

A picture frame clamp can be used to join the four pieces needed to make a picture frame. There are several variations of this type of clamp, but they all ultimately lead to the same result. This type of clamp ensures that the mitered edges of the frame can be held well together for a perfect result.

What woodworking clamps do I need 3 Essential clamps & helpful tips Toggle clamps

Toggle clamps

Although toggle clamps cannot be used individually, but are, most of the time, attached to a jig or machine, I want to mention them in this list because they are very commonly used in woodworking.
Toggle clamps are clamps that can be operated quickly to hold a project in place thanks to the handle, so the workpiece does not move when you apply pressure.

What woodworking clamps do I need - Spring clamps

Spring clamps

Spring clamps can be used to clamp wood to wood, or wood to other materials like metal and plastics, in a very fast way.
They come in a variety of sizes and shapes and are easy to apply and remove.

What woodworking clamps do I need 3 Essential clamps & helpful tips Bar clamps

Bar clamps

Bar clamps are applied to the edge of the wood and the bar are placed on the surface of the wood.
They are used for gluing and holding wood pieces together.
They come in many sizes and shapes.

What woodworking clamps do I need - One hand bar clamps

One hand bar clamps

One-handed clamps are just like regular bar clamps, except that they can be operated with one hand. This type of clamp is very handy for fixing things in place, and you only have one hand free to work with.

What woodworking clamps do I need 3 Essential clamps & helpful tips Pipe clamps

Pipe clamps

Pipe clamps can be used to hold larger pieces of wood together and apply pressure to the surface of the wood. Woodworkers often use this type of clamp to join boards edge to edge and create larger pieces of wood.

What woodworking clamps do I need 3 Essential clamps & helpful tips Hand screw clamps

Hand screw clamps

Hand screws are a type of clamp that is applied to the edge of the wood. Hand screws have two ratchets, which makes it easy to apply pressure to the wood.

What woodworking clamps do I need 3 Essential clamps & helpful tips Locking clamps

Locking clamps

Where many clamps require a tedious and time-consuming application, the locking clamp is a quick alternative. An added advantage is that it can be operated with one hand. In woodworking projects, however, the locking clamp will be used less frequently because the high pressure can damage the wood.

What wood clamps do you really need?

The question, “what woodworking clamps do I need?” may seem simple at first glance, but in truth, there is much more to it than you think.

As you could see from the list above, there are many types of clamps, and each has its own use and function.
Many woodworkers tend to buy a few of all types, which can lead to high costs and many types of clamp types that are hardly used.

So it is good to think about it and only buy the woodworking clamps that you really need.
In my opinion, the woodworking clamps that you really need are the kind of clamps that are suitable for many tasks.

So, the best thing to do is that you need to make a list of the most frequently performed tasks in your workshop and see which clamps are best suited for them. When you make such a list, you will find that certain types of clamps can be used for different tasks.
These are the ones you need!

By making as complete a list as possible of all the tasks you need to perform, and seeing what type of woodworking clamps are best suited for each task, you can eliminate some types of clamps.
The clamps that are most represented on the list are the ones you should invest in. Later, as your workshop grows, and you have a new budget, you can buy other woodworking clamps for more specific tasks.

In the research I did before writing this article, I made a list of all the possible projects a woodworker can do.
I linked the clamps that can be used for them and found that you can get most tasks done with just 3 essential types of woodworking clamps.

The clamps filtered were the spring clamp, the one-handed bar clamp, and the pipe clamp.

Woodworking clamps you need # 1: spring clamps

The spring clamp is a handy little and relatively inexpensive clamp to have in your workshop.
If you need to hold something temporarily, this lightweight clamp is ideal because it’s easy to use with one hand and does not take up much space.
Keep in mind that this clamp is the perfect clamp to hold something temporarily, and it is not suitable for clamping something under high pressure.
So it is not suitable for gluing wooden boards.

Woodworking clamps you need # 2: one hand bar clamps

Like the spring clamp, this clamp is one-handed and convenient to use for all kinds of tasks. However, you can use this clamp to clamp things together under a lot of pressure.
The distance between the jaws is also larger than the spring clamp, so you can clamp larger pieces.
In fact, this clamp is just as good as the regular bar clamp.
However, I prefer to use these clamps in my workshop because not only can they be operated with one hand, but they are also noticeably lighter than their metal counterparts.
One disadvantage is that the force you can exert on the clamps is somewhat less than that of the regular bar clamp.

Woodworking clamps you need # 3: pipe clamps

Actually, with the 2 previous types of woodworking clamps, you might have enough in your workshop.
The only problem you have then is that you are limited in the size of the project you want to clamp.
That’s why I think it’s a good idea to invest in pipe clamps.
This allows you to easily clamp larger objects such as cabinets or gluing wood panels.
The advantage of using pipe clamps rather than a larger bar clamp or a parallel clamp is that the force you can apply to these clamps is very large.
These pipe clamps are versatile and can be a good alternative to parallel clamps and large bar clamps.

What are the different brands of clamps available in the market?

There are several brands of clamps available in the market.
The most well-known brands are Bessey, Irwin, Jorgensen, DeWalt, Wolfcraft, and Wen.

So how do you choose?
What are the differences between them?

That’s a good question and one that can’t be answered that easily.
You can’t go by price alone, or the number of reviews that a product has gotten.
You need to look at the quality of the materials that’s gone into making the clamps, the weight, opening capacity, and the clamping force of the product.

For each type of clamp of the 3 essential clamps for your woodshop, I discussed earlier, I searched for 3 recommended brands and models and compared them in the tables below.
Depending on what you value most, you can choose which brand is best for you.
You can click through to Amazon via the clickable link on the model number, where you can see more details as well as the most current price.

Comparison table for spring clamps

BrandModelMaterialWeightOpening capacityClamping force
BesseyXM-5 2″Metal0.35lb – 160gr2-1/4″ – 5.7cmN/A
IrwinQuick grip 2″Metal0.43lb – 195gr2″ – 5cm N/A
Jorgensen3202-HT 2Metal0.35lb – 160gr 2″ – 5cm N/A
Comparison table to find the best spring clamps for woodworking
What woodworking clamps do I need - Spring clamps
Bessey XM-5 2″

Best spring clamp

In my opinion, the best spring clamp to buy is the Bessey XM-5 2″.
This clamp has the widest opening capacity and is still the lightest one on the list.

Comparison table for one-hand bar clamps

BrandModelMaterialWeightOpening capacityClamping force
BesseyEZS45-8Metal bar + plastic jaws2.09lb – 950gr18″ – 46cm445lb – 200kg
IrwinQuick grip 18Metal bar + plastic jaws 1.6lb – 730gr18″ – 46cm300lb – 136kg
JorgensenISD-3 18Metal bar + plastic jaws 1.9lb – 860gr18″ – 46cm300lb – 136kg
Comparison table to find the best one-hand bar clamps for woodworking
What woodworking clamps do I need - One hand bar clamps
Bessey EZS45-8

Best one-hand bar clamp

If you are looking for a 18inch (ca. 46 cm) one hand bar clamp with a huge clamping force, the Bessey EZS45-8 is the one you need!
The only downside is that this clamp is the heaviest one of the 3 compared clamps.

Comparison table for pipe clamps

BrandModelMaterialWeightOpening capacityClamping force
BesseyBPC-H34Metal1.1lb – 500grvariable600lb – 270kg
Yaetek3/4″ Wood Gluing Pipe Clamp SetMetal1lb – 450grvariable500lb – 225kg
JorgensenJorgensen 52Metal1.4lb – 635grvariable500lb – 225kg
Comparison table to find the best pipe clamps for woodworking
What woodworking clamps do I need 3 Essential clamps & helpful tips Pipe clamps
Bessey BPC-H34

Best pipe clamp

In my opinion, Bessey again proves to be the best choice if you are looking for a decent pipe clamp. With a clamping force that is remarkably higher than other pipe clamps, yet lightweight, I think this is the best option.

Do you need to buy woodworking clamps?

You should definitely buy woodworking clamps!
Of all the tasks that come up in a woodworking shop, 99% of the time you’ll need a clamp to hold something temporarily or press stuff firmly together.
The best types of clamps to buy first are spring clamps, one-hand bar clamps, and pipe clamps. Clamps are essential in a workshop!

However, buying clamps is not the only option.
You can also make your own woodworking clamps.
You can make your own one-handed clamps, spring clamps, or pipe clamps, but I think the cost and time involved are too high, and you can not match the quality of the shop-bought clamps.

When I talk about making your own clamps, I think of special clamps that you will not use often and can easily make yourself.
For example, I have already made 3 versions of corner clamps, a simple table clamp, and a prototype of a self-closing parallel clamp.
You can find these articles with step-by-step instructions and free plans in the list below. Be sure to check them out, they are easy and fun projects.


It has been a pleasure to help you find the best woodworking clamps for your workshop.
I hope that the initially difficult decision of finding the right clamps for your workshop is now much clearer.
Remember, it is best to get an overview of all the tasks you will perform in your workshop.
Using this list, you can then link specific clamps together and see what type of clamps are most likely to recur.
These are the clamps you will need for your workshop.

With all the other guides in this article, you can further filter out which woodworking clamps are the best based on weight, clamping pressure, price, etc.
Although I have given you what I think are the best choices, there are other things you should think about as well.
How many clamps will you need?
How will you store them?
What different sizes of clamps will you need?
Consider these factors and then choose the woodworking clamps that work best for you.

P.S. keep following me because soon I will write articles that will answer those last questions for you.
Subscribe to my newsletter to get notified when I release these articles.

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