What Are Spring Clamps Used For?

When we wrote about the essential tools for the beginner woodworker, we spent some time discussing clamps.  Even the simplest of woodworking projects is going to require the use of clamps at one point or another, something with a firm grip and an easy release.  A wide selection of clamps in various sizes and styles will always come in handy:

  • Piece of wood held in place for cutting?  Clamps
  • Gluing planks together for a tabletop?  Clamps
  • Cauls to apply pressure across a span?  Clamps

You see the point, and these are just three of the tasks where clamps will be required.  There are many more.

What Are The Common Woodworking Shop Clamps?

In our article on all things clamps, which you will find here, we presented a long list of clamp sizes and styles for you to consider, many (if not all) you probably have in your shop already.  They included:

  • Pipe clamps.  The name says it all – pipes with jaws that clamp.  They’re inexpensive, the jaws can be purchased separately and used with whatever length of pipe you have handy, and a ½ “ pipe will do you fine on most any home woodworking project.
  • Bar clamps.  Adjustable arms on these clamps lend themselves well to gluing tasks, like for doors, tabletops, and such.  
  • Handscrew clamps.  These wood clamps have wooden jaws that will hold your workpiece in place.  They don’t do anything special that pipe clamps and bar clamps can’t do, but they are “old school” wooden clamps even though they are more expensive.
  • C-clamps.  Just as the name implies, shaped like a “C.”  They have a wider mouth that may come in handy for some tasks, but they don’t do anything that pipe and bar clamps don’t or can’t do.  F-clamps are similar, except shaped like an “F,” and like bar clamps, are useful when gluing long/wide pieces together.

An assortment of these clamps in a variety of sizes in your woodworking shop will serve you well.  It’s rare that a project won’t need clamps at some point, whether for cutting or gluing.

Spring Clamps For The Woodworking Shop

Lot of 24-6" inch Spring Clamp Large Super Heavy Duty Spring Metal Black - 2.5 inch Jaw Opening

The final clamp style mentioned in that beginner’s article was the spring clamp. They look a little like a pair of tongs you’d use in the kitchen while cooking or clothespins you’d use to hang laundry on the line for air drying.

A spring provides pressure that holds the two arms of the clamp in place with great strength.  The ends of the arms where a workpiece would be gripped are rubber pads, and the grip is tight from the spring tension.

They are small, smaller than pipe or bar clamps, and would not be suitable for projects where long or wide boards are being glued (think door or tabletop) where a larger clamp would be needed.  

The 6-inch spring clamp is the most common size.  Measurement is from the tip (the rubber pads) to the end of the handle.  Some hand strength is required to use spring clamps, and the larger sizes require ever more strength to open and release.

Collins Spring Loaded Pliers and 13 Miter Clamps – Proudly Made in The USA
  • New Spring Loaded Pliers and 13 spring miter clamps included – LIFETIME GUARANTEE
  • Miter clamps spread from 0 to approximately 2 inches. No need to carry a bunch of different sizes
  • Sharp point pierces the wood without cutting wood fibers vs the competitions angled cut
  • Keeps any mitered corner from opening up while glue dries for the perfect finish

They are quick and easy to use, though, and come in handy for a variety of tasks.  They fit well with your gluing, fastening, or cutting needs. They are also convenient for holding cords and extensions out of the way when you’re at your workbench.  And, yes, they can even hold up your laundry on the clothesline.

There’s nothing special about the working of spring clamps, and the theory is pretty easy to follow.  The spring keeps the arms closed, and the rubber pads on the ends of the arms grab the workpiece(s), cords, etc.  The grip is strong, and for small clamping tasks, they work quite well.

It might be to hold a stop block in place on a table saw fence or a stop block on a jig you’ve made for use on your table saw.  They are easy to maneuver in place and can be applied with just one hand.

Spring clamps are not expensive. In fact, depending on the size you are buying, you can find them at a local hardware store or at one of the big DIY stores for as little as $1, although you can spend more if you want but usually not over $10. You can also purchase a set of spring clamps of a variety of sizes, and we found one 20-piece set of sizes between ½ “ up to 3” for under $30.

As with many other tools and accessories we gather in our woodworking shops, you’ll find uses for all sizes of spring clamps.  They simply lend themselves to many simple clamping tasks, and having multiple sizes handy expands their possible uses.

Spring Miter Clamps

Fulton Spring Clamp Pliers with 13 Spring Clamps and Hip Clip Made in the USA

With the spring miter clamp, though, we move into a specialized task – the clamping of a miter joint when gluing.  These clamps work a bit differently than the standard spring clamp but just as effectively.  As with spring clamps, some hand strength is necessary for their use.  

The spring miter clamp is a metal device that, by virtue of its design and manufacture, has a set width opening.  A special set of pliers is used to widen that set width opening to reach either side of the miter joint; the pliers set the spring miter clamp into position on either side of the joint to press both pieces of wood together and hold them tightly while the glue dries and sets.

A spring miter clamp set will usually come with a number of clamps plus a special set of pliers for their use.  The prices will be higher than those for standard spring clamps, as you might expect.  While you can purchase a single clamp, perhaps a larger size for bigger miter joint workpieces, you can also purchase sets that will include several clamp sizes as well as special pliers.

In case you have never seen or used a spring miter clamp before, here’s a video that shows them in action.  It’s short and to the point, but the concept will be clear.

Here’s a video to show another clamp style and size on a slightly larger miter joint.

We do recommend a couple of spring clamps for all woodworking shops and suspect you already have some in yours.  Various sizes, too.  If you do a lot of miter joint work, like picture, painting,  or mirror frames, for a few dollars more, you’d do well to have a spring miter clamp set on hand – remember, there are four corners to clamp, so a set is a good purchase.

Clamps, clamps, clamps.  You can’t have too many.  They don’t take up a lot of space, and a wall rack will keep them out of the way. Practice your French cleat work and expand your woodworking skills on a clamp rack for your next project.

Last update on 2024-05-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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