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C-clamps are the traditional workhorses of the shop. Made of heavy iron, they never wear out, and when you need some serious squeezing power, these are the clamps of choice. While they come in a range of sizes (measured by their maximum opening), a couple of 5 inch C-clamps will be the most handy.

Watch out for several quality issues:

  • in cheap versions, the swivel pad at the end of the screw will not be the conventional ball-and-socket design that is important for allowing the pad to seat and rotate easily as the clamp is tightened.
  • also make sure that the screw fits the clamp threads with reasonable precision so that it does not wobble too far out of proper alignment.

Clamps with any major amount squeezing force are likely to mar the project surfaces when they are tightened. The most significant factor is the size of the clamp pads, with larger pads spreading the crushing force over a wider surface area. Almost invariably

you will need to use scraps of wood between the work piece and the clamp to distribute the clamping force, so donít overestimate the significant of whether the clamp you are buying comes with rubber or nylon pad covers.
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