how clamps work

How Clamps Work: Different Types and Their Mechanisms

Your clamp might seem like one of the simplest tools in your garage. Still, it’s actually filled with complex mechanisms that allow it to grip and hold items tightly and deliver just the right amount of pressure needed to keep objects together securely while you work on them. Here’s how different types of clamps work, from some of the oldest designs out there to today’s high-tech options.

Introduction to Clamp Basics

how clamp work

There are many different types of clamps in all sorts of shapes, sizes, materials, and mechanisms. You could get by with only one or two clamps in a perfect world. However, if your project is larger or heavier than you might want to hold for an extended period of time, or you’re working on something that needs additional support—or both—then you may find yourself shopping for more clamp varieties. Woodworking clamps, for example, come in many different forms:

  • Bar clamps
  • Pipe clamps
  • Parallel jawed bar-clamp pliers
  • C-clamps (often used as temporary supports)
  • G-clamps (another common temporary option)
  • C-clamped boards

Many woodworkers have their own favorite variety of woodworking clamps; however, they work together as part of a whole system to help make projects easier to build and finish. For instance, holding clamps keep things steady while the glue dries or pieces dry to fit together. Other kinds can keep two pieces aligned while screws go into place. Still, others will create pressure to ensure parts stay put once attached. And then, there are quick clamp options that help with large assemblies and multiple pieces at once. Now I will talk about some basic woodworking clamps mechanism.

Know More: What Are Clamps : A Beginners Guide to Woodworking Clamps

Purpose of Using a Clamp

 1. To secure two pieces of wood together while the glue dries 

2. To hold a piece of wood in place while sawing 

3. To prevent a piece of wood from splitting while being drilled 

4. To act as a third hand while sanding or filing 

5. To temporarily hold a workpiece in place while a permanent joint is being made 

6. To support a workpiece while it is being cut 

7. To aid in the bending of wood 

8. To clamp a workpiece to a workbench 

9. To clamp a workpiece to a jig 

10. To clamp a workpiece to a fence

Clamps Mechanism and How Clamps Work

There are many different types of woodworking clamps available on the market today. Each type of clamp has its own unique benefits and drawbacks. In this article, we will take a look at some of the most common types of woodworking clamps and their respective mechanisms.

Bench Clamp

bench clamp

Bench clamp is a tool that nearly every woodworking shop will have one on hand. It also one of those woodworking tools that are nearly impossible to use in a poorly constructed shop. A bench clamp works by squeezing together two workpieces to hold them still for machining or gluing. This clamps is available in many different styles, but most of them share some basic similarities, which we’ll explore here. 

The first thing you need to know about these clamps is how it gets their power. In order to squeeze two pieces of material together, you need force. Bench clamps get their force from a threaded rod that runs through them. The threaded rod is attached to an arm that can be moved up or down by turning a hand crank at one end of the clamp.

By moving the arm up or down, you’re able to move two opposing pieces closer together or farther apart until they are pressed firmly against each other. Once they’re pressed firmly against each other, your workpieces are locked in place for gluing or machining operations. The most common type of bench clamp uses a sliding bar as opposed to a threaded rod. A sliding bar works just like a threaded rod does—it gets its power from being screwed into an internal nut—but instead of using threads, it uses grooves along its length to increase friction and grip on the nut.

Bar Clamps

bar clamp

Bar clamps are one of the simplest types of clamps to understand. They consist of two metal bars, usually plastic or aluminum, connected together by a movable clamping bar with a handle at one end. The clamped object is sandwiched between one bar and the clamping bar; pressure is applied by squeezing together or pushing apart the two bars, which forces them to apply pressure to whatever they’re holding in place.

For example, if you were gluing something to your workbench using a bar clamp, you would squeeze both sides of the clamp together until it was tight enough that it wouldn’t slide on its own but loose enough that you could still adjust it. This ensures that no matter how much glue seeps out from underneath your project, it won’t be held down so tightly that you can’t move it when necessary.

A lot of woodworkers use bar clamps for assembly projects because they hold things together firmly without leaving any visible marks. However, bar clamps do have their downsides: You can only squeeze so far before you risk damaging whatever you’re working on, and some things—like large pieces of wood—are too heavy for most bar clamps to hold up effectively.

Spring Clamps

spring clamp

A spring clamp gets its name from a spring that’s located within its body. This spring is usually coiled wire or a flat steel band. When closed, you can adjust it to apply pressure between two surfaces using a knob on one end of it.

The other end has a handle that makes it easy to move. They are useful for holding small pieces together during gluing and assembly work in woodworking, among other applications. To use them, simply open them up until they grip whatever you want to hold and then tighten their adjustment knob until they stay in place.

These types of clamps are also available with rubber padding for comfort when working with sensitive materials like wood. One potential drawback of these kinds of clamps is that if they aren’t held firmly enough, they may slip out of position while you work. For some projects, however, such as those where you need only temporary support for a surface or object, these kinds of clamps are perfect.

G-Clamp & Vise Grips

g clamp

A G-clamp is not as much of a clamp as it is a vise. A G-clamp sits on top of a flat surface. The front jaw of the G can be closed, placing pressure on whatever’s below. The rear jaw of a G-clamp is generally only opened by twisting it with your hand—it doesn’t move independently like some other types of clamps do. When you apply pressure to something with a G-clamp, you are essentially squeezing it between two jaws that are parallel to each other (hence G).

vise clamp

Vise grips work in a similar way; they just have handles instead of jaws. To squeeze a material with either type of clamp, all you need to do is turn them, so their jaws tighten around what you want to secure. That said, both types of clamps can also be used for moving objects rather than holding them still.

For example, if you were moving furniture or an appliance and needed to keep it steady while transporting it across uneven ground, using a pair of vice grips or G-clamps would help stabilize these items while they moved from one place to another. In addition, both styles of clamps come in different sizes and shapes.

A typical set of G-clamps will feature a range of six different sizes:

  • 2 inches wide at 1 inch long
  • 2 inches wide at 2 inches long
  • 3 inches wide at 1 inch long
  • 3 inches wide at 2 inches long
  • 4 inches wide at 1 inch long
  • 4 inches wide at 2 inches long.

Trigger Clamp

trigger clamp

Trigger clamps are often used in woodworking, for example. The clamp works by squeezing two opposing handles on either side of an object. These squeeze together when you pull on a trigger, applying pressure to whatever you’re clamping. As soon as you let go of that trigger, though, those handles immediately release and spring back into place.

This is one of the simplest types of clamp mechanisms, but it’s also one of the most versatile—you can use these to apply pressure anywhere along a straight edge or flat surface. A major downside is that they don’t have much holding power, so they aren’t great for heavy-duty jobs. However, they do make excellent temporary fasteners because they can be released instantly with just a pull of your finger.

Frequently Asked Questions are Answered

1. Do I Need to Put a Clamp on My Workpiece That’s Too Small for a Vise? 

Sometimes, you just have to use your hand. Unless you’re working with incredibly expensive or delicate materials, this shouldn’t cause any problems. 

2. What’s the Best Way to Hold My Workpiece While Clamping? 

When clamping, it’s important to support the workpiece as much as possible. The best way to do this is to clamp your workpiece between two boards or pieces of wood. The boards should be perpendicular to each other. 

3. What to Consider While Clamping?

There are a few things to consider when clamping a workpiece:

1. What is the size and shape of the workpiece?

2. What is the material of the workpiece?

3. What type of clamp do you have?

4. How much force do you need to apply to the workpiece?

5. What is the best way to protect the workpiece from damage?


Clamps are simple devices that work by applying pressure to an object to hold it in place. There are many different types of clamps. They all work in essentially the same way. By understanding how clamps work, you can choose the right type of clamp for your needs and use it effectively. 

I hope I’ve helped you out. If any questions, please feel free to ask a question or comment on this post.

Related Posts

  1. The Best Ways to Clamp Without Damaging Your Workpiece 
  2. Bar Clamp vs Parallel Clamp: Which is Right for the Job?
  3. How Do Parallel Clamps Work? Mechanism and Working Procedure
  4. The Best Ways to Clamp Without Damaging Your Workpiece 
  5. How To Clean Wood Glue Off Clamps: The Ultimate Guide

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