Clamps are one tool that you want to have on hand if you ever need to hold materials together or hold a piece of material in place as you work on it. Different types of clamps are very common in metalworking, woodworking, crafts, manufacturing, and hobbies like wood burning or jewelry making. We’re going to outline several different types of clamps you can have around to help make your work easier below.
Constructing a Clamp
You’ll generally find clamps made out of plastic or metal. The jaws of the clamps will be metal, and this is true if even the handles feature a plastic material, rubber, or wood. Metal is long-lasting, sturdy, and ensures that the clamp will hold tightly once you adjust it. The handle material isn’t as important as the material that the jaws are made out of, but the handle material can also define how comfortable it is to grasp the clamp as you work.
Metal handles are a solid choice because they won’t rust, are strong, and will last the longest. This is especially true if you have steel ones. However, they can be uncomfortable to hold. If you want a more pleasant grip, go with rubber, plastic, or wood for the handle construction on your type of clamp. These materials are more prone to cracking under pressure, and they won’t do well in wild temperature shifts.
Ideally, you’ll have several different types of clamps on-hand to help you complete different projects without a problem. Clamps by Let Ideas Compete / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Plastic is one material that is very prone to cracking in cold temperatures, and this can render your clamp useless. You can also find types of clamps that aren’t marketed for use in heavy-duty applications made out of 100% plastic. They’re nice for smaller projects where you don’t want to spend a lot of money on tools. They’re not as strong as metal types of clamps, so it should be no surprise that they don’t last as long.
27 Types of Clamps
We’ve put together a list of different types of clamps that you can use on a large range of projects, and we also have clamps that work for specific applications, like surgical clamps. If you’re curious as to which types of clamps are available and which ones would work best for your needs, read on.
1. Pinch Dog
A pinch dog is a very small metal type of clamp that you’d use in woodworking. They have a square bridge shape to them, and the ends will taper off to a sharp point. When you glue two pieces of wood together, you have to hammer this clamp in to hold the wood in place while the glue dries. The tapered ends on this clamp help ensure that the wood gets tightened closer together the further you hammer this clamp in. As a result, you end up with a neat and strong glue line. This is a very simple clamp design that functions on a basic premise, but they’re an essential tool for any woodworker to have because they work so well.
This type of clamp is a very large clamp that you can use on bigger-scale projects, like doors or windows. You may be surprised to know that this clamp got the name due to the fact that it was popular for holding sash windows in place. You get a long bar on this clamp that comes designed to hold large items very tightly. Usually, you’ll have two sash clamps at a minimum when you use them to ensure you get a really good fit. The long bar has a fixed jaw that you can tighten or loosen with screws. They also come with a sliding jaw that you can move along the flat bar’s length to secure your project at different points. This is a specialist type of clamp that you can use to hold two items together while the glue dries to get a perfect set.
Just like the name suggests on this type of clamp, you’d use it to hold two items in place that feature miter joints. Typically, this would be two pieces of wood. The clamp works to push them together with a tight hold while you work so nothing slips. A basic mitre clamp has a C-shape with a spring-loaded design to hold your items securely. You can get several different types of mitre clamps that are a lot more involved, and they have several parts that make them more reliable, versatile, and functional. Some of these clamps come with moveable jaws, and you can get others that work as a right-angled clamp.
4. G or C
This is a very versatile type of clamp, and it’s the one that most people think of when you tell them to envision a clamp. You can use it to hold your object to a table or to hold two pieces of a project together while you work. The jaw has openings that can range from an inch to more than eight inches, and this makes it very quick and easy to find one that will suit your current project, no matter if it’s building pallet furniture or holding dual sign pieces together. You get a screw section that can clamp onto a host of irregular surfaces because it has a swivel head, and this makes it even more versatile.
C clamps are some of the most recognizable ones on the market, and they feature a very user-friendly design. Pasta Machine “C” Clamps by Angela Mabray / CC BY-NC 2.0
5. Bench Vise
Although this technically isn’t a type of clamp, it functions like one. You fix this vise directly onto your work surface or bench, and it has an upward-facing clamp mechanism that you tighten or loosen using a lever. These vices are usually steel, and they’re meant for very heavy-duty usage. They’ll hold your items in place while you saw, sand, drill, or plane them. Some bench vises get permanently fitted to a bench, but you can also find portable options that have screws that you can undo in order to move your bench vise to another location.
6. Pipe or Gluing
You can hear this type of clamp referred to as a pipe or gluing clamp, and they’ve very similar to a traditional sash clamp. However, instead of having a longer piece of metal that acts like a flat bar, they feature a rounded shaft. The clamp’s length will be determined by how long the length of pipe on your dishwasher or plumbing system is you want to work with. You can lengthen them by adding a second tube to the clamp for longer sections. This makes them very easy to use and versatile. Once you get over the initial investment, they’re inexpensive to lengthen and very easy to use. This makes them a solid choice for people on a budget or a DIYer. You can adjust the clamp’s jaw and move it, and you’ll slowly tighten the jaws against whatever project you’re working on to get a secure grip.
7. Hand Screw
A hand screw is a type of clamp that many people call a toolmaker’s clamp. They’re very popular to use for metalworking projects. They’re also great to have around when you repair furniture because you can adjust the jaws very quickly and easily to fit and hold angled material in the correct place. You’ll usually get an all-steel construction, and this makes them very long-lasting and sturdy. However, you can also get newer wooden versions on the market today if steel isn’t your thing.
This type of clamp is called an F clamp or a bar clamp because it comes outfitted with a flat, longer bar that forms an F shape. This clamp is very popular in woodworking projects or metalworking because they securely hold two materials together while you weld, glue, or screw them in place. They work just the popular C clamp does, but you get a much larger jaw. Therefore, you get a much higher capacity to help you hold bigger items. You’ll tighten up these clamps using a screw, and you’ll reverse the screw to help loosen the jaws back up.
This is a specialized type of clamp that works to hold tubing in place while you work on it. You can use them on square or round tubing without a problem, and they also work well to help you hold flat items in places like metal sheeting or plywood. They’re useful to have when you work in tight spaces because it has a long and lean shape that will fit into anywhere that has a two-inch capacity. However, these clamps are very prone to damaging whichever item you want them to hold if you secure them too tightly. So, you have to be very careful when you work with them over other types of clamps.
This type of clamp has a scissor shape with ends that will clamp shut to form a tight, flat line. They’re popular for use for surgical purposes, so they’re specialized. They’re extremely useful to help control bleeding, and many surgeons use them to clamp off blood vessels before they’re ligatured. You can lock the handles of this type of clamp together, and this functions to hold the clamp in place and ensure it doesn’t accidentally open back up while you’re working. You can find them called peans and arterial forceps. You can also get several different designs, including some with curved tips and some with straight tips. Other hemostatic clamp models that are common in surgical procedures include Crile forceps, Satinsky clamps, Rankin forceps, and Kelly forceps.
This is a specialized clamp that is used in medical settings, and you may have to order it online if you need one since most stores don’t stock them. Tight space by Jazz DiMauro / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
These clamps have a large number of uses and they’re very common. You can choose from a variety of sizes when you shop, and you can easily use them to clamp woodworking projects together to cut them or as the glue dries. They also work well for holding wire for jewelry or beading projects. The handles usually come with a PVC covering that ensures you won’t hurt yourself when you work with this type of clamp, and the tips usually feature removable PVC covers. If you remove these covers, you can use the clamps for soldering purposes. They have tension springs that make it challenging to open these clamps. It also ensures that they’ll hold your item tightly once they’re shut and locked in place.
Web types of clamps work well when you have to work on frames. They come with nylon bands on them that securely but gently wrap whichever object you want to work on before tightening it using a ratchet. This functions to hold the item in place, but the nylon wrap ensures that you don’t accidentally cause any damage. You can use this clamp with corner gripping pieces or with them. This ensures that all of the pressure the clamp generates gets distributed evenly without any worry about damaging the item as you go along.
This is another medical type of clamp that comes with a scissor shape with rounded eyelets at the ends of the clamp. They’re also called sponge clamps because they work well to hold onto spongy materials, including everything from soft tissues like lung tissue or medical sponges. When you grab sponges with this clamp, you can use them to swab away excess fluid like saliva or blood to give the surgeon a clear field of view. They’re also commonly used for body piercing purposes, including tongue piercings where they hold the tongue in place to ensure the needle pierces through in the correct place. The clamps got their name from Dr. David William Foerster.
Pneumatic types of clamps lock together in a powerful and strong way. They’re usually automated, and you put them on timers to get them to clamp or unclamp at specific times. They’re also called power clamps, and they were originally designed for use in the automotive industry in a bid to increase productivity levels while moving away from manual-style types of clamps. You can now use pneumatic clamps in a host of situations, including manufacturing or assembly lines. They save you time by automatically opening and reducing manual interference. They’re also popular in any field where you have limited access and traditional clamps can’t reach, like remote areas or drainage lines for your retaining walls or sewer systems.
Step types of clamps are used in a large industry range, but you’ll most commonly find them used in machining and milling. They typically get made out of metal, and they come with an enamel finish to them to make them more durable. One of their defining components is the serrated edges that look like a set of steps. You’ll need three components for this type of clamp, including the clamp, clamp support, and the nut or bolt to help fix the clamp in place. It has a very simple design with an inexpensive price tag, and they’re very user-friendly while being effective.
16. Strap or Web
Web or strap types of clamps are commonly used in woodworking or in the furniture making industry. They have a fabric or cord belt that straps around an item and locks any solid corners into place to keep the piece stable. You can tighten up the belt using a ratchet. The clamps are very useful to help tightly fix them to a bigger item before you load it into a truck or for keeping it in place as you work. You can use it without the corner pieces if you are working with an item and you’re worried about damaging it. They’re usually a very bright color to make them highly visible, and they come in dozens of lengths and strengths.
17. Wire Rope
A wire rope clamp is a specialized type of clamp that you won’t be able to run out and pick up from most of your local hardware stores. If you do need one, you may have to find it online or find a specialist stockist. They’re also called wire rope clips, and the main purpose of this clamp is to fix a loose piece of wire rope by clamping it back onto the rope itself. They feature a metal saddle with a few bolts that will hold everything securely together. The bolts work to loosen or tighten up the clamp’s grip. They are very useful for niche purposes, but you won’t find a lot of use for them in everyday tasks because they’re not versatile. This is why they’re usually not available in most stores.
Wire rope clamps are very niche products that you don’t use a lot for common projects, and this can make them more difficult and expensive to find. 182 – 30th June 2020 by -Cheesyfeet- / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
18. Quick Action
As the name suggests, you can operate this type of clamp with a single hand. This feature makes it extremely convenient to work with, and it allows you to hold the clamp as well as whatever you need to apply the clamp to. It has a fast-release button on it that you can operate with one finger, and this gives you a very fast movement. It’s an extremely strong clamp, and this allows you to use it in a huge range of applications. It’s also a very hassle-free or versatile option that works well on everything from building sheds to holding pieces of wood for a project as the glue dries.
A marman type of clamp has a circular shape that mimics a band, and it is a piece of metal. There is a gap in the band where the manufacturer fixed a bolt that allows you to tighten or loosen your clamp up. Ideally, you’ll use this clamp to hold two cylinders or pipes together, and the easy bracket feature allows for quick releases as you work. This band-style clamp is extremely strong, and it’s very popular when you work with aircraft fuel lines.
20. Drill Press
A drill press type of clamp is a specialist model that you want to use with your drill press tables. These clamps will secure your materials to the drill press table so you can quickly and easily make accurate and clean movements without worrying about your materials moving and throwing your accuracy levels off. You can easily adjust the clamp to give you a firm and perfectly tight hold, and it releases quickly. In turn, this makes it very convenient and safe to use in your home shop.
Having the proper clamp on your drill press is essential to ensuring that your materials don’t move and you stay safe as you work. Spacer Block/Drill Guide by Mouser Williams / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
As the name suggests, this type of clamp is pretty niche in the usage. You’ll find it used when you install flooring. They’re excellent for holding tongue and groove boards in place so you can securely nail them down while ensuring that they don’t move and throw off the flooring. Generally speaking, you can usually clamp up to 10 boards at one time, and you have to use them alongside other flooring clamps to get them to work. If not, your boards have a high chance of moving around because they won’t be secured in place as you work on them.
This is a multipurpose type of clamp that combines the benefits you get with a C clamp and a parallel clamp. You can easily adjust them to fit any surfaces that aren’t parallel because they have free-floating jaws. They also won’t shift away from the center when you start to apply pressure to the clamp’s jaw. You can get a lot of movement out of the clamp, and they’re very user-friendly. This makes them a very popular option with DIYers or beginner woodworkers.
A toggle type of clamp comes with a handle that you use to control the clamp itself. It also has a bar that will hold onto whatever you’re working on, and you get pins and levers that will help you increase the holding force. They grip objects very tightly while ensuring that they can’t separate or move when you start applying inward pressure. You can easily use this clamp style in metalworking, milling, drilling, or woodworking to help keep your items in place and steady.
24. Picture Frame
A mitre clamp is capable of holding two mitered pieces of material steady, this type of clamp comes designed to hold four pieces of material together to form a picture frame. The mitered edges of your frame will all fit neatly together, and the clamp will hold them in place until the glue dries or as you nail them together. You can find several different designs when it comes to this clamp, and one of the most popular ones on the current market comes with a centralized screw that you use to adjust the clamp and picture frame pieces.
Picture frame clamps come in a huge range of sizes and styles, and they ensure that your picture frame has the perfect dimensions with sharp corners as they dry. First picture frame by Lucky Larry / CC BY-NC 2.0
A clip type of clamp are the common, small clamps that you see on hangers to let you clip your clothing onto the hangers instead of folding or draping them over the rod. They have very little force to them, and you can open or close them easily using a few fingers. Along with clothes hangers, you can also find them used as bag clips to close up an open bag of chips. They’re usually made out of plastic with a metal spring, and they’re prone to breaking with excessive force.
Bar clamps come in a huge range of lengths, but they’re all usually slightly longer in the design. These types of clamps allow you to work on bigger projects like creating deck boxes without worrying about keeping your items stable. The bar comes with a flat surface that makes it easy to put your project right on top of it and use the head of this clamp to slide it up until you secure your materials. They come in different variations and styles, but the basic one is necessary for when you work on bigger projects.
This is the type of clamp that you usually use in circumcisions. They’re very beneficial because they’re extremely easy to use, they result in little scarring, and they don’t have any parts that you have to put together before you use them. This is a medical clamp, but you can use them for non-medical reasons if you’re working in an area with very little resources. You can use them more than once too, and it’s essential that you sanitize them correctly between uses to prevent spreading any diseases.
Locking clamps have a nice feature on them that allows them to quickly lock or release them in a single swift function due to the integrated level that is built into the design. Locking clamps have a square shape to them, and the jaws are wide when you open them to allow you to complete larger clamping processes. The unique design of this type of clamp works to hold any irregularly shaped or tapered object.
Trigger clamps are easy to fit using a single hand, so it’s commonly called one-handed clamps. Trigger clamps are generally durable, strong, and reliable. You can source them easily at your local home improvement store or online. As the name suggests, this clamp comes outfitted with a trigger mechanism to adjust the jaw of the clamp. You can control this trigger using a button or lever so that it responds very quickly and easily as you work with it.
A hose clamp is very similar to the Marman clamp we touched on earlier, both in appearance and function-wise. You can pick out hose clamps in different types and styles, and it’s generally used in the automotive or construction fields. Also, they give you a relatively more permanent fix compared to tape, and they last longer. You can choose from wire, spring ear, and screw foam varieties, and each one has a set of advantages and disadvantages with it.
As the name suggests, screw clamps work just like traditional screws do, and you can adjust the jaws and clamp itself by tightening a screw-like mechanism. There are many variations of the screw type of clamp available, including edge clamps, rack clamps, wooden hand screw clamps, F clamps, C clamps, and G clamps.
Pennington types of clamps look like a pair of very slender scissors. They have a triangular eyelet at the tips, and you see them used during operations. Surgeons use these clamps to gently hold tissue back out of the way so they can operate on the patient and have a clear field of view. You may also see OBGYNs using them or piercers in tattoo shops.
Ear clamps are small, metal clamps that generally have a diameter of less than an inch. You commonly see this type of clamp used to secure piping, as couplers for a hose fitting, or for thin-wall applications in the small fuel, vacuum, and automotive industries.
Parallel clamps, as the name suggests, come outfitted with two vertical jaws and a nice one-handed trigger mechanism that allows you to apply pressure to whichever object you need to hold. Since this is a larger type of clamp, it’s common to use it for bigger applications, like on table tops or door frames.
Using a clamp to hold the door frame in place as you build it helps to ensure that you get a sturdy and straight finished result.
If you’re trying to affix two pieces at a 90° angle, this is the type of clamp you should have on hand. They’re a very niche product that only works on corner joints and they won’t work on ordinary joints.
Cable clamps come in a U-shape, and you use them to tighten up the loose side of wire cables or steel rope. Also, this type of clamp is smaller, and they help to support and hold cables in the proper position. They’re commonly found in the automotive industry.
Pipe clamps are very similar to sash clamps, but they have a rounded shaft. The clamp length depends on how long the pipe is you want to work on, and you can easily lengthen them by adding tubing to it. The jaw is adjustable, and you can easily move it into different positions for your DIY projects.
38. Bench Clamp
These clamps get designed to hold whatever you want onto a bench. The bench will work to form the fixed jaw of your clamp. They’re commonly used in welding, carpentry, or furniture making.
This clamp features a long metal bar with several serrations on it that help to hold the adjustable head in place when you move it tightly against an item. As you clamp down the clamp’s head, the pressure causes the serrations to lock and keep the head securely in place so it doesn’t slip.
This type of clamp has a very simple design, and you use it to build a clinker boat. They hold the strake when you fit and attach it so it doesn’t slip. Because of this single purpose, they’re more difficult to find to buy.
41. Clip Hangers
These are common, small types of clamps that you use on hangers to clip your clothing to the hanger instead of folding or draping them over the rod. They produce very little force, and you can open or close them with your fingers.
You use these types of clamps for circumcision. They’re very easy to use, result in little scarring, and they don’t have to be put together before you use them. You can use them more than once and in other industries too.
Clamps with plastic jaws are the types of clamps you want to use when you’re working with more delicate substances as metal jaws can cause damage. You can find a range of durable plastic clamps in various sizes.
Metal clamps are nice because they’re incredibly durable and resistant to rust and corrosion when you use them in wet environments. They also won’t slip, break, or crack with heavy use.
The final clamp on the list is the woodworking clamp. It needs to be able to maintain an even pressure as you work on your project, and it needs to be versatile enough to offer several pressure and size variations as your project needs change.
These 45 types of clamps have a host of uses associated with them, and you can easily pick and choose which ones are going to work best for your needs, depending on the projects you have lined up. Ideally, you’ll have more than one type of clamp handy to ensure that you can complete your projects quickly, easily, and safely.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.