As an absolute beginner or intermediate welder, one of the basic welding tools you’ll need to get acquainted with is the welding table clamps.
Clamps make your work easier by firmly holding large pieces of metal together for easy welding.
Learning how different welding clamps work is crucial in achieving high-quality weld joints at any angle.
This post will introduce you to various types of clamps for welders, how they work, and how you can make your own welding clamps at home.
Let’s dive in…
How do welding table clamps work?
Welding clamps come in all sizes and shapes. They also come in various designs to meet different user needs.
To understand how a welding clamp clamps, you’ll need to understand the different types of clamps available and the role each of them plays.
Here are the most common welding clamps on the market today:
C Clamps (G-clamps)
These are the most popular and the standard go-to clamps for welding. The simplicity, availability, and versatility of these clamps contribute to their popularity.
C clamps hold metals firmly in place for easy welding. However, one thing you’ll have to deal with when using these clamps is that they’re slow to release and take longer to readjust compared to other types of welding clamps. This can affect your productivity.
It is also important to note that C clamps have been further modified into various designs to meet different user needs.
These variations range from standard clamp design to double anvil, quick-release c-clamps deep reach c-clamps, locking c-clamps, and others.
F Clamps (bar clamps)
Rallying closely behind the c clamps are the F-clamps (also known as bar clamps).
They provide you with a wider opening capacity and make the perfect welding clamps when you find the c clamps opening capacity quite small for your needs.
Unlike the C clamps, bar clamps have a slide bar that lets you easily and quickly adjust their opening capacity to suit your specific welding needs. You can even adjust this clamp single-handedly!
When it comes to helping you get the job done, these clamps rely on the cantilever principle to hold onto the materials being welded.
Friction is the key force here for holding your materials in place to give you an easy welding experience.
Bench Clamps (toggle clamps)
As you can easily guess from their name, bench clamps come designed for screwing down onto your welding table. This allows for quick clamping of your assembly.
When you have the perfect toggle clamps for the job, they will make your welding project easier for you and enable you to make higher-quality welds.
Pipe clamps also find a lot of use in the welding world. They come in a similar design to the F clamps. But instead of using the sliding bar, they have a sliding pipe.
The clamps are best suited for cases where you want to achieve tighter welding on valves and pipes. It’s worth noting that these clamps will easily fit any opening capacity you need.
The clamps are available in a variety of sizes, so you should be able to pick the right size that matches your needs.
Just like bench clamps, table clamps are meant for use with an accompanying welding table with holes. Table clamps help you easily secure metal sheets to be welded on your welding table.
They help you easily make welding assemblies and promote single-handed clamping with speed—improving your overall welding productivity.
Corner clamps are also known as angle clamps or miter clamps. The best welding corner clamps come in handy when you want to connect corners together for easy welding.
Edge clamps find heavy use in welding as well as woodworking. A typical edge clamp features 3 screws which enable it to control its position in two axes.
This enables you to easily hold down material parts for gluing a welded assembly or butt weld.
If you’re looking for clamps that you can use to hold together two rods or tubers at an angle, get the two-axis clamps.
The items don’t need to be the same thickness for you to hold them together using these camps. These welding clamps often require you to fix them on your welding table to start using them.
The two-axis clamps have a variation, the 90-degree clamp, which is specially made for holding materials you intend to wed together at right angles.
Every serious welder has several pairs of locking clamps for handling smaller materials. They’re quite fast and you can use them single-handed, making them suitable for your welding work.
Don’t confuse locking clamps with sheet metal clamps, though. Though these clamps have similar looks, the sheet metal models have a larger surface area and are ideal for sheet metal welds.
Springs clamps are also popular among welders. They’re not only affordable but they’re also easy to use. You just need to squeeze the handle to open the clamp.
Due to their limited holding capacity, these clamps are mainly used as additional clamps for holding down materials during welding.
What about magnetic welding clamps? How it works?
Magnetic welding clamps also help you hold your workpieces together for easy welding.
But unlike the standard clamps that rely on working the screwing and making physical adjustments to keep your items in place, magnets use—yes, you guessed it, right—magnetic force!
These clamps are especially helpful when you want to hold your materials together at tricky angles, which is usually a challenge when using traditional clamps.
However, magnetic welding clamps aren’t 100% reliable for welding.
Using them too close to where your weld bead can affect the welding pool and cause arch blow which leads to welding spatter or weld defect.
They can also cause warping for the materials you’re working on.
How to use welding clamps?
The secret to obtaining quality welds is knowing how to use the various clamps we have mentioned above to hold your project.
Follow these FIVE key rules when using welding clamps for better welds:
Rule #1. Use the right clamps for the job
The first rule of using welding clamps is to ensure you choose the right one for the job at hand. As we have just seen above, there are a whole bunch of welding clamps designed to accomplish different jobs.
Rule #2. Don’t overtighten your clamps
While most people tend to think that overtightening helps achieve a firmer and more stable clamping, doing so can easily damage your welding and make them wear faster than they should.
Rule #3. Use at least two clamps for welding
Always use at least two clamps to hold your materials to minimizes the chances of rotation. This rule applies mainly when your welds don’t have table support.
The additional clamping will keep your welding material from moving or rotting which can directly affect the quality of your welds.
Rule #4. Cushion your clamping
Be sure to include cushioning in your clamping. The right cushioning keeps your welding material from getting undesired marks and abrasions. It also keeps the material from being damaged and ensures a firmer hold.
You can easily find cushioned clamps featuring rubber or other soft materials at the grips to help. In case you can’t find the cushioned clamps, adding padding between the work piece and the clamp will work.
Rule #5. Take good care of your clamps
This is easy as keeping them clean and lightly oiling the moving parts to ensure they stay in top working condition and serve you for longer.
Using clean clamps is key to ensuring particles and dirt don’t damage your materials in future projects.
How many welding clamps should you own?
If you’re a new welder, you don’t need to own every type of welding clamp we have listed here. Having around 4 to 6 clamps should be enough for your welding needs.
As you continue gaining experience in the welding world, it’ll become clear what clamps you need to handle different projects. And before you know it, your collection of clamps would have grown to feature even the specialized models.
For experienced welders, however, you’d want to have as many clamps of various designs as possible to meet your welding needs for the diverse welding projects you handle in your shop.
How to make welding clamps?
If you’re a handyman, you can also come up with your own DIY welding clamps at home, fully customized according to your welding needs.
You can come with various types of clamps from scratch. But for beginners, we suggest starting out with something simple.
Since the C Clamps (aka G clamp) is the most common type of welding clamp, well focus on how you can come up with your own similar clamp at home.
What you’ll need for this project:
The parts you need are nothing new than the steel or iron material in your welding shop and some common parts you can get from the store. The full list of items you need include:
Once you have gathered the above materials, follow the directions below on how to make your own G-clamp from scratch.
Step 1. Outline the G-clamp on the work piece
The first step is to draw the C clamp on your steel or iron piece of metal. Use something highly visible such as chalk to help you easily see the clamp shape when you get down to cutting it out of the material.
Step 2. Cut out the clamp drawing
With your safety gear on, grab the metal cutting torch and cut out the clamp from the metal sheet. A cutting torch will give you a smoother C cutout compared to other cutting methods.
Step 3. Smoothen out the rough edges of the clamp
Use the grinder to smoothen up the rough edges of your C cutout to make it look and feel perfect for a welding clamp.
Step 4. Make the clamp tightening mechanism
Now is time to make the clamp tightening mechanism. For this part, you need to use the rod and the nuts. Screw the nuts onto the rod and check that all flat sides align properly.
But don’t tighten the nuts yet, else this can become problematic later on when you need to tighten/loosen your welding clamp.
Step 5. Weld up things together
Pick one of the flat sides of the tightening mechanism you have just made in step 4 and weld them onto the far end of the C. Make sure you use a clamp to grip the metal, rods, and nuts together for easy welding
Step 6. Making the clamp handle
The final step involves welding the metal rod to your clamp to create a handle. For this step, we also suggest gripping the welded rod and the handle rod together with a clamp for easy welding.
And you’re done!
This is how you easily come up with a welding C/G-clap that you can use for your home welding projects.
However, keep in mind that this is just a general guide, and the method can slightly vary depending on the individual as you can see in the following video.
What are some good welding clamps?
Not everybody will embrace the idea of making their own clamps. Some welders are simply anti-DIY and would rather opt to order a read-made high-quality clamp. If you fall in this category, this is your part.
We have searched the market for some of the best welding clamps and found up to 5 highly rated models that we have outlined below.
1. TEKTON 6 Inch Malleable Iron C-Clamp
Designed to be extremely powerful and versatile, this Tekton 6-inch C-clamp helps secure parts for easy assembly and welding and ultimately ensures better quality welds.
The dependable work hose is constructed using cast malleable iron for unpreceded strength and durability. The frame also features an I-beam design to help minimize overall clamp weight while maximizing its overall strength.
The Acme (American screw thread) threading on these claps screws allows it to glide smoothly without binding or sticking, unlike the trapezoidal threading system. This makes the clamps fast to use and increases your welding productivity.
And when you finally clamp down your welding materials with this Tekton C-clamp, it feels quite solid, with no signs of play or shift—the perfect setup for high-quality welds.
This C-clamp comes with a swivel jaw pad that floats in a low resistance ball-and-socket joint for even pressure destitution. Don’t forget the sliding handle bar that offers you multiple hand positions for the best leverage as you work on different welding projects.
2. MAXPOWER Thick Rail F Clamp
Maxpower f-clamp will offer you increased versatility than the C clamp above, with its increased opening capacity. It boasts a durable steel frame and black oxide coated spindle for maximum strength under head loads and the ultimate longevity.
It comes armed with a thick which grants it the power it needs to solidly hold your welding pieces together. As such, you can fully concentrate on your welding for the best quality results.
It is also made with Acme screws which allow for hassle-free screwing and unscrewing without sticking or binding. The fact that this model feels heavier than most of the F clamps out there makes it suitable for heavy-duty clamping.
The clamps are finished nicely. The spindle itself features a black oxide coating which helps keep away clamp tear and wear. it also helps prevent rust and corrosion, enabling the clamp to last longer.
The clamp may feel a bit smaller for advanced welders, but you can overcome this minor issue by grabbing several pieces to make your work easier.
The pricing is good for this heavy-duty clamp and they offer excellent value for money.
3. ABN Arrow Welding Magnet Set
If you’re looking for the best magnetic welding table clamps, this ABN arrow welding magnet set will be a good choice for you. The set includes 6 arrow magnetic clamps that will make welding as well as soldering at odd angles safe and easier for you.
With these clamps, you’ll wave goodbye to the hassle of screwing and making physical adjustments associated with traditional clamps like F and C clamps. Needless to mention, these make your work faster and increase your productivity in welding.
Each of the magnets features an arrow shape to help you easily work with different angles—including 45, 90, or 135 degrees—while you install and weld metalwork. This makes it easy for you to weld without having to stop midway to move them.
The magnets produce high magnetic force to enable them to solidly stick to any ferrous welding material for hassle-free welding. Their bright red color helps you locate them easily.
These welding magnets are also built to last. They feature high-quality stainless steel construction with a powder-coated finish—for durable, long-lasting, and rust/corrosion-free performance.
4. BETOOLL Cast Iron Welders Angle Clamp
BETOOLL designed this cast iron angle clamp to meet your welding needs without breaking your bank. The clamp is made with a heavy-duty cast iron frame which makes it feel extremely solid.
It’s great for handling heavy-duty welding tasks that require the ultimate clamping power. At 8lbs., this angle clamp is also a bit heavier and beefier, further making it ideal for heavy-duty use.
The angle clamp includes a two-way swivel-mounted spindle that automatically makes adjustments to the clamping block for easy accommodation of varying metal sizes.
It presents you with 2.5 inches maximum passage of joints to make it highly versatile welding clamping for use in a variety of welding materials including iron, square tubing, channel iron, pipe, and others.
The machined surface of this clamp has a dead-on square and you can rely on it to make precise 90-degree angles for high-quality welds.
Unlike other angle angles, this BETOOLL model offers you an unobstructed working area to allow for free access for welding operational and through-ways for T joints.
5. Capri Tools Locking Welding Clamp
Lastly, we have the Capri Tools locking welding clamp. This complete package comprises a set of up to 3 clamps including 10-inc general welding, 10-inch sheet metal clamp, and 11-inch C clamp. This makes it a highly versatile set for working on various welding projects.
All the clamps feature hardened steel jaws which provide you with excellent clamping force to hold differently welding materials firmly. The pressure of these clamps is easily adjustable to accommodate the needs of different materials you’re working with.
You’ll like the quick-release feature that comes with these clamps to help you easily and quickly release welding material from the firm lock.
With a jaw capacity of 1-5/8 inches, they’ll easily hold most of the welding materials you use in your welding shop.
Whether you’re looking for the perfect locking welding clamps for your hobby project or for handling professional projects, this ultimate set from Capri tools will more than meet your needs. The price is good for the quality and value you get for this set of 3 clamps.
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Welding clamps make your welding job much easier by firmly gripping your welding materials and ensuring better welding results every time. They come in different shapes and sizes to meet all your welding needs. This guide has touched on all the key areas you need to know about welding clamps and we hope that you’re now in a better position to determine the perfect clamps you need for your welding needs.