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A variation on the bar clamp is a device called the quick grip clamp. Bar clamps usually have a fixed end and a screw-down end. The quick grip clamp uses a pistol-style grip allows rapid adjustment and clamping. They often have plastic coated jaws that make it perfect for delicate projects that can be marred by the steel jaws found on many bar clamps. Quick grip clamps can sometimes be converted to spreaders with no additional tools required, making the quick grip clamp a versatile addition to your tool box.
Pipe clamps are, because of the name, often mistakenly thought of as something to be used in a plumbing project. A pipe clamp is generally used in woodworking to hold wood steady for cutting, gluing, or other work. Some models include holes in the clamp face designed for mounting pads, cauls, jigs and speciality fixtures. The reason a pipe clamp is helpful is that you can extend the width of the clamping area to accommodate wider boards or other materials simply by using a longer length of pipe to mount the clamping apparatus on. They are quite handy and more flexible than some traditional vises, which have a fixed clamping area.
There are many different types of cable clamps to choose from, the real differences between them are based on what you need the clamps for. Some are simple O-shaped plastic with an adhesive bottom, perfect for disentangling speaker wires and computer cables. Others are a more heavy-duty "clamp-style," coming in solid aluminum, with two plates that are screwed together. The plates have V-shaped indentations made for 18-gauge wire or other sizes depending on the model. Some come with magnets for mounting on metal surfaces. Yet another kind of cable clamp is the same kind of tool used in jumper cables to connect the cable to the battery, an over-sized "alligator clip".
If you need to shop for cable clamps, it's a very good idea to bring a picture or spare clamp with you when trying to locate them in the store. There are so many definitions for this particular tool that you may need to show a clerk or sales rep before they will know exactly what you need.
Aubuchon Hardware Tip: Bar clamps rely on the tightness of the hand screw for the "final pressure". If you have difficulty applying the right pressure due to an injury or hand discomfort, try switching to a one-handed bar clamp that uses a pistol grip for loosening and tightening. Always use the proper clamp size for the job to prevent overloading a smaller clamp. It's easier on the hands, too!
There are many clamp shapes and sizes on the market, what works best for you depends on what you need them for. Some clamp tools are permanent, meant to be applied and left along for as long as the clamp will hold tension. An example of a permanent clamp is the hose clamp, a device used to attach a hose to a fitting and form a seal. It's applied, and left alone once the seal is established.
Temporary clamps are the ones most likely to be used in a do-it-yourself project or home improvement situation. The bar clamp is a good example; it's used to hold pieces of wood together to facilitate gluing. Another type of temporary clamp is the spring clamp, used for holding a piece of trim motionless on the cutting table, or temporarily hanging unconnected wiring or cables in high places.
If you've ever priced a good, solid-wood picture frame, you know how expensive they can be. The cost to frame a single photograph, painting, or other work of art can be outrageous. Why not make your own? Frame pieces are sold pre-cut and ready to assemble. All you need is time, a little study on frame assembly, and the right tools. One tool that can make the entire process go quite smoothly is the variable angle strap clamp. This will hold the ends of a picture frame together without warping or distortion. You can either apply wood glue or fasteners to your picture frame, either way, the strap clamp keeps the pieces held firmly together. These clamps run under $50 and can really speed frame assembly, once you are comfortable doing the work.
Woodworking projects may not require anything more than a good pipe clamp, but it all depends on the size of the wood you are working with. For more ambitious projects featuring slabs of granite, heavy cuts of wood, or even engine parts, you may need the additional ruggedness and strength of a heavy-duty vise. If you need to clamp and secure irregularly shaped parts, a heavy-duty vise with a pivoting jaw is probably the best tool for the job. Some heavy-duty models are made specifically for woodworking, and feature jaws that are covered or coated to prevent the wood from being marred. Other vises have metal jaws with little serrated teeth. Vises aren't made "one-size-fits-all", but if you find yourself stuck with a vise that isn't made to protect your materials, you can cover up the hard metal surfaces with a shop towel and a chamois to keep the teeth from digging in to your surfaces.
A bar clamp is a bit like a vise grip, except that it is portable, and not anchored to a workbench or table. These clamps are commonly used when gluing pieces of wood together. If you want to build or repair wooden drawers, for example, the bar clamp is used to hold the drawer together while the glue dries. If you notice that the wood isn't quite even, it's easy to loosen the bar clamp, readjust, and tighten the clamp down again.