10 Types of Clamps Every DIYer Should Know

Learn which type of clamp is best for your next project.

wood clamp with hand measuring lumber

Jason Donnelly

Clamps come in many sizes and styles, ranging from simple hose clamps for minor plumbing repairs to heavy-duty bench clamps. However, the one thing that all clamp types have in common is that they are designed to hold the target material in position while you cut, sand, drill, plane, or complete any other work on a project.

Depending on your needs, you can find a wide variety of clamps with specialized purposes, as well as a number of common clamps that are useful for a range of general-purpose jobs. Some popular options to consider purchasing for your toolbox include C-clamps, F-clamps, ratcheting hand clamps, spring clamps, and more.

Use this guide to learn about 10 types of clamps every home DIYer should know, so you can make an informed decision about the right clamps for your next project.

hand clamps woodworking

Dean Schoeppner

1. Ratcheting Hand Clamp

Ratcheting hand clamps come in several different sizes and shapes. Some options look similar to spring clamps, but others have much larger C-clamp jaws. The defining trait of ratcheting hand clamps is that instead of tightening a bolt or relying on a spring to close the clamp, these tools secure the workpiece with a ratcheting mechanism, allowing ratcheting hand clamps to tightly grip the target material.

This type of clamp is best for holding workpieces in place while you cut, drill, sand, or plane the material. Each clamp costs about $10 to $20, so if you plan on tackling any woodworking projects in the future, it may be a good idea to head to your local home improvement store or go online to purchase one or two ratcheting hand clamps.

c-clamp in workshop

Getty Images / 1827photography

2. C-Clamp

One of the most common types of clamps is C-clamps. This tool gets its name because of its C-shaped design. C-clamps consist of a fixed metal body with a long bolt that passes through the bottom of the clamp. The bolt is topped with a moveable jaw to help grip the target material, making this type of clamp ideal for woodworking and automotive work.

As the bolt is tightened, the opening of the clamp gradually closes, gripping the target material between the fixed jaw at the top of the clamp and the moveable jaw attached to the bolt. These clamps are relatively inexpensive, with each costing about $5 to $15.

secure boards with glue and clamp to dry
Dera Burreson

3. Pipe Clamp

Best for wood joinery, panel, gluing, and securing large workpieces, pipe clamps utilize varying lengths of pipe to increase or decrease the length of the clamp. This type of clamp is designed with two separate clamp ends and typically costs about $20 to $30. One clamp screws onto the threaded end of the pipe, while the other clamp slides over the unthreaded part of the pipe.

The clamp that simply slides over the pipe has a locking mechanism so that it can be secured to hold the target material in place between the two clamp ends. If you're working with a larger piece, select a longer pipe to use with the clamps, so that the opening between the two ends can accommodate the item.

spring clamps woodworking

Dean Schoeppner

4. Spring Clamp

A spring clamp is a relatively easy-to-use type of clamp that applies pressure to the target material using a built-in spring. Simply squeeze the handles of the clamp together to open it, then slide it over the target material and release the handles to secure the material.

Spring clamps generally cost about $5 to $10 each and are most effective when used to hold two pieces of material together as you work. Keep in mind that while this type of clamp is quick and easy to use, spring clamps are not very strong, so they are not recommended for large, heavy projects.

handscrew clamp woodworking

Craig Ruegsegger

5. Handscrew Clamp

Typically used for wood joinery and furniture making, handscrew clamps are a traditional option made of two identical wood jaws connected by two opposing threaded screws. Open or close the jaws of the clamp by adjusting the threaded screws. The wood jaw design helps to protect the surface of wood workpieces, instead of having metal jaws that could scratch or indent the soft material. Handscrew clamps generally cost about $25 to $35 per clamp and give the user more accurate control over the alignment of the jaws due to the dual-threaded screw design.

bench clamp or vise clamp in use

Scott Little

6. Bench Clamp

Designed for holding wood, metal, plastic, automotive parts, and more, bench clamps are heavy-duty tools that must be attached to a workbench or some other type of support to function properly. These tools are also know as vise clamps or bench vises. Depending on the size, strength, and durability of the clamp, the cost for these tools can range from $30 to $150.

Bench clamps have one fixed jaw and one moveable jaw that can be tightened or loosened by turning the adjustment screw. Once the bench clamp is secured to a workbench or work table, you can tighten the adjustment screw to use the clamp for holding material or parts in place as you cut, drill, shape, or otherwise complete work on your project.

using clamps to hold birdhouse walls together
Jacob Fox

7. Quick-Release Clamp

As the name implies, a quick-release clamp has a quick-release switch that immediately releases the grip of the clamp. These clamps cost about $20 to $30 and are commonly used in wood joinery, gluing boards, and holding workpieces.

This type of clamp can have a similar design to F-clamps, with a long bar and a sliding arm, but quick-release clamps may also appear like spring clamps, with a pair of handles that are used to open and close the jaws. The common feature between these different styles is the ability to quickly release the grip on the material with the squeeze of a trigger or push of a switch.

strap clamp around wood frame

Scott Morgan

8. Strap Clamp

A strap clamp is often used for wood joinery, furniture making, and for securing irregularly shaped workpieces. This type of clamp typically has a nylon cloth strap that wraps around the target material and feeds back into the body of the clamp.

Strap clamps cost about $20 to $30 each and use a ratcheting mechanism to pull the strap through the body of the clamp, tightening the strap around the target material. These clamps are ideal for securing large frames while the glue joints set. You can also get larger versions of strap clamps to secure items to your vehicle.

hose clamps

Getty Images / Alena Zharava

9. Hose Clamp

Unlike most other clamp types, hose clamps are usually left in position after they have been used to secure a pipe fitting or a hose. These clamps typically cost about $1 to $5 per clamp and are frequently used in plumbing and automotive repairs.

Hose clamps are essentially metal straps that wrap around a hose or pipe fitting. The strap loops back into the main body of the clamp, where a screw can be operated with a screwdriver or a ratchet to pull the strap through the clamp body. As the strap is pulled through the body of the clamp, it tightens around the target material to secure the hose or pipe fitting.

F-clamp woodworking project

Rachel Marek

10. F-Clamp

Another common option for wood joinery, gluing boards, holding workpieces, and other general DIY projects is the F-clamp. Similar to the C-clamp, this type of clamp gets its name due to the shape of the tool. It's designed with a long metal bar with a fixed arm and a fixed clamp jaw at the top of the bar. A sliding arm moves up and down the bar to quickly open or close the clamp. The sliding arm has a bolt and moveable jaw that can be tightened or loosened with the attached handle.

F-clamps are great for larger projects because they typically have a wider opening between the jaws and may also have deeper throats than the average C-clamp. Pick one up for your home workshop at an average cost of about $10 to $20 each.

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