6 types of clamps

There are more than just Vise-Grips and C-clamps to choose from

By Steve MaxwellSteve Maxwell

Fuller clamps

Photo by Gary Davidson

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Spreader clamps

An innovative design fast becoming a favour­ite among DIYers. Moderate pressure delivered with one-handed operation; padded jaws protect sensitive surfaces. Look for jaws that slide off and reverse to let you spread things apart, useful during renovation struggles.

Flat twine

Not exactly a clamp, but useful for holding all kinds of things. Stretchy, non-stick plastic film binds anything under mild pressure. The more times you wrap, the tighter the grip. Use it to hold a repaired chair together while glue dries, bundle paper for recycling or kindling for storage, or bind cross-country skis and poles at season’s end.

Pipe clamps

The classic large-span, high-pressure clamp. Buy a set of jaws, then screw them onto the same diameter of steel pipe — the longer the pipe, the bigger the clamp. Get your pipe threaded on both ends and pick up a coupling so you can join several lengths together for really big jobs like wrestling deck and dock boards into alignment.

Spring clamps

Like a spring-loaded hand exerciser with jaws. Plastic-bodied, corrosion-resistant models work well outdoors; metal versions are fine everywhere else. Ideal as quick-release tarp hold-downs, for general repairs, or for securing signs directing first-time visitors to the cottage.

Strap clamps

Powerful ratcheting mechanism tightens a woven strap around objects of irregular shape. The classic furniture repair clamp, which also makes an outstanding hold-down strap for car-topping, or for big loads in the trunk, truck, or boat.

Fast-acting clamps

Sometimes called F-clamps, these are less costly and lighter in weight than old-time C‑clamps and better for most jobs. The sliding lower jaw lets you take up the slack quickly before tightening the threaded ­handle. If you want a set of general-purpose workbench clamps, these are great. Buy them by the set for the best price.

This article was originally published on December 20, 2010

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