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All About Clamps

Which gripping tool to use when, as explained by This Old House general contractor Tom Silva

In this video, This Old House general contractor Tom Silva discusses the right clamp to use and when.


1. C-clamps are best used for metalworking. When used on wood, be sure to use pads to protect the wood surface from damage.
2. Use C-clamps to hold a framing square to a straightedge when laying out stair stringers.
3. Spring clamps, also called pinch clamps, are inexpensive and useful for a wide range of light-duty clamping jobs.
4. Quick clamps can be operated with one hand and many models have reversible jaws for use as a spreader to push apart pieces.
5. When greater clamping strength is needed, consider using pipe clamps. Buy pipe-clamp fixtures and slip them onto black-iron pipe. Pipe-clamp fixtures are commonly available for use on ½-inch or ¾-inch-diameter pipe.
6. Bar clamps with parallel jaws exert immense pressure evenly to the work, so there's less chance of the parts bowing.
7. Specialty work-holding clamps are used to hold two boards at a right angle.
8. A miter clamp with screw handle provides a quick, accurate way to assemble right-angel butt joints, miter joints, or T-joints.
9. A three-way C-clamp has three screws and is useful for securing face frame to cabinets. Just be sure to protect the wood surfaces with pads.
10. Ultra-flexible, super-stretchy surgical tubing is surprisingly strong—and very affordable. Simply wrap it tightly around the assembly and tie together the ends.
11. A strap clamp, also called a band or web clamp, is ideal for securing irregular or oddly shaped assemblies, such as stools, chairs and tables.
12. Some strap clamps must be tighten with a screwdriver or wrench. Others are equipped with a convenient ratcheting mechanism.