The Best Bar Clamps

Bar clamps are a type of woodworking clamps that applies pressure to hold pieces of wood together. This makes them especially handy for securing project pieces while waiting for bonding or glue to cure. 

We researched the best bar clamps available online, evaluating ease of use, quality, sturdiness, and overall value. Our top choice is the Tekton 39185 Ratchet Bar Clamp; it stands out for its ergonomic design, versatility, and durability.

Here are the best bar clamps.

What Is a Bar Clamp?

The Best Bar Clamps
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A bar clamp is a long, metal bar that is designed to hold heavy and large workpieces. These clamps are very strong, and because of that, it is capable of heavy-duty clamping. You may also hear a bar clamp be referred to as a speed clamp or an F clamp. The latter name may seem strange but the bar clamps shape resembles the letter F.

What Are Bar Clamps Used For?

Bar clamps are pieces of equipment that are commonly used in metalworking or woodworking projects. They keep pieces of metal and wood securely in place so that they can be joined together permanently. They ensure that the pieces you’re working with are tightly secured, so they don’t move around while you’re working on them.

Bar clamps are made up of two horizontal bars that are joined together by a vertical bar. There is also a large screw on the lower of the horizontal bars, which allows the clamp to be tightened and adjusted. The long metal bar is usually made from aluminum or steel so it’s very strong.

Bar clamps are most commonly used in pairs, but for any larger projects, you will need more. The clamps could either be positioned along the length or width of the workpiece. You may find that some of the clamps cross over each other. This just ensures the project is tightly secured.

Bar Clamps – Buying Guide

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Type

No woodworking or metalworking shop is complete without a wide assortment of bar clamps in different sizes and types. Just about any project that goes beyond merely hammering a couple of boards together requires a clamp. But while all clamps serve the same basic function, there are many different types of these handy tools available, each with a slightly different benefit or use. Below are some of the more common types of clamps you’ll want to consider adding to your workshop: 

C-Clamp: These basic clamps resemble the letter “C.” These are useful for holding narrow wood pieces or boards together while glue or another adhesive dries. 

Bar Clamp: The bar clamp opens much wider than a C-clamp, which allows you to hold much larger workpieces together.

Pipe Clamp: These are also called H-clamps. These are sets of clamp heads that allow you to use them with any length of pipe needed to create a clamp that’s just the right size for your project. 

Trigger Clamp: This is basically a bar clamp that has a trigger for quick and easy opening and closing.

Pinch Clamp: Also called a spring or hand clamp, these clamps are very simple and are useful for holding delicate materials together. 

Corner Clamp: This is a specialty clamp that’s designed to hold pieces together at a 90-degree angle. 

Face Clamp: These clamps are square in shape and have wide pads that clamp securely without marring a delicate surface.

Clamp/Spreader: These are bar clamps, usually trigger-style, that can be reversed to apply outwards pressure to hold pieces in an extended position. 

Size

Bar clamps come in a wide range of sizes. This is great news because the variation in sizes allows you to find the one that will best suit the material you’ll be clamping. Here are some of the important numbers to consider when it comes to bar clamp size:

  • The overall length of the clamp.
  • The jaw opening size. The jaw opening size is the maximum distance the jaws can separate. This is crucial because it determines how wide of an object the bar clamp can hold. 
  • The throat. This is the depth of the clamp, which measures from the tip of its jaw to the frame of the clamp. This measurement determines how far the clamp can reach into the material that’s being held.

Clamping Force

Clamping force is a measurement of how much pressure the clamp will exert when it’s fully tightened. If you apply too much pressure, then you may damage or split the wood. If you apply too little pressure, then the bar clamp might prove ineffective for the job. Look for the clamping force in the specifications of whatever bar clamp you’re considering.

Material

Material is often overlooked, but it’s definitely something that needs to be seriously considered. The material that the bar clamp is made of will determine how durable it actually is. There are light-duty bar clamps that are made of anodized aluminum or resin, and there are heavy-duty clamps that are made from cast iron or drop-forged steel.

The Best Bar Clamps 

Here are some of the best bar clamps you cna purchase today. 

TEKTON 39185 Ratchet Bar Clamp

T​​he Tekton 39185 Ratchet Bar Clamp is a great option for a variety of reasons. It’s budget-friendly due to its low to mid-range price. This bar clamp is available in sizes from six to thirty-six inches. The bar itself is made from carbon steel, and the jaw is made from reinforced nylon. 

The clamp has a small assembly, so it can be used even in tight spaces. The quick-release button makes it easy to remove, but I would like to mention that the button is quite small and can take some time to find. The fixed jaw can be moved to the opposite side so you can convert it to a spreader.

While this bar clamp is very highly rated, there have been some reports of the plastic mechanism snapping under heavy use. The reports of this are minimal, but if you need something heavy-duty, you will want to look elsewhere. For the money, and considering how easy the Tekton is to use, this bar clamp is an excellent choice.

What We Like 

  • It can be converted to a spreader
  • It has a quick-release button
  • The nylon jaw won’t damage your project
  • Cheap

What We Don’t Like

  • Not a good option for heavy-duty projects

Bessey GSCC2 Bar Clamp

The Bessey GSCC2 Bar Clamp is a versatile bar clamp. It can easily clamp material together. This Bessey bar clamp version offers better durability and strength. It has strong powder-coated cast-iron jaws that are tipped with a nickel-plated bar, an improved comfort-grip handle, and non-marring pads. The most important part is that it clamps like a champ! The spring-loaded clutch plate slides along the bar easily, smoothly, and then locks in place right where you want it to. Once locked in place, the jaws on this bar clamp won’t slip, even if you shake, drop, or jar the bar clamp.

This bar clamp is considered a light-to-moderate duty clamp. It’s thirty-six inches long and has a three-and-a-half-inch throat. This is the maximum depth of the jaws when they’re extended from their frame or bar. This clamp can exert up to 1,100 pounds of clamping pressure, which is more than enough for most DIY projects. The clamp itself weighs 4.5 pounds. It truly is a must-have for any woodworking or carpentry shop, whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional.

What We Like

  • Superior clamping power
  • This clamp has a deep throat
  • The ergonomic handle

What We Don’t Like

  • This clamp is somewhat heavy

Jorgensen 24″ One Hand Clamp/Spreader

The Jorgensen 24′′ One Hand Clamp/Spreader is a heavy-duty and more premium alternative bar clamp option if you’re looking for something that’s a little more special. I would say this bar clamp is definitely the premium choice on this list because it is effortless to use, extra-long, and produces a lot of pressure. However, do keep in mind that it also comes with a hefty price to match. The Jorgensen 24′′ is a one-handed clamp with a load limit of three hundred pounds that can open up to 2-feet long. It’s made of high-carbon steel, ensuring that it will last a long time.

The Jorgensen clamp is also really pleasant to use. The quick-release lever and contoured grip add to the reliability of the clamp. This makes it more comfortable to use and allows you to efficiently relieve the pressure.

What We Like

  • It’s made up of sturdy and durable material
  • This clamp is easy to use

What We Don’t Like

  • It is expensive when you compare it to other options

DEWALT DWHT83149 Medium Trigger Clamp

The DEWALT DWHT83149 Medium Trigger Clamp can quickly apply and release pressure, allowing for easier one-handed operation. It has a strong heat-treated steel bar and reinforced nylon handle for smooth, durable performance. The non-marring tips on the jaws of the bar clamp protect your material from scrapes and scratches. This is a light-to-medium duty clamp that’s perfect for most projects you find yourself working on around your workshop.

The clamp has up to one hundred pounds of clamping force, a maximum jaw opening of six inches, and a 2.43-inch throat. It’s a great overall clamp that you’ll reach for constantly while working with wood and other materials.

What We Like

  • The clamp is reasonably price
  • It’s easy to use with one hand

What We Don’t Like

  • There are reports of it not sliding smoothly when opening

IRWIN One-Handed Quick-GripClamps

Irwin is well-known for manufacturing high-quality, affordable clamps, and the Irwin One-Handed Quick-Grip Clamps are no different. These mini clamps come in a pack of four and cost a little more than most companies charge for just a single clamp. Despite their low cost, these are made from hardened steel bars and reinforced resin bodies. The clamps stay firmly in place, and they grip tightly without leaving a mark on surfaces.

I would like to mention that these clamps do not operate as spreaders, and while they do offer a lot of strength, they aren’t heavy-duty. However, their low price, solid company manufacturing reputation, and strong clamping ability make them some of the best bar clamps for the money.

What We Like

  • Minimal slippage
  • Budget-friendly
  • The quick-release trigger is easy to use

What We Don’t Like

  • Extremely difficult to remove from the packaging
  • Not designed for heavy-duty projects

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I store bar clamps?

You want to store bar clamps in a location that is easily accessible. Some of the best options for storage include a tool chest where you can designate a drawer for clamps or even a pegboard with hooks to hang the clamps from when you’re not using them. You can also store pipe clamps on shelf brackets. Just be sure to keep your brackets away from extreme temperatures and moisture to avoid damage.

Q: How many types of clamps are there?

There are at least thirty different types of clamps that offer various methods of applying pressure. The design of the clamp determines its type, while the material, manufacturer, and warranty of the clamp will impact its cost.

Q: How many clamps do I need to use?

Most projects will only need you to use two clamps for most projects, but you may need to use more based on the size of the project you’re working on and the PSI that is required. The PSI is largely based on the type of wood you’re working with.

Wrapping Up

There are the best bar clamps! We hope this buying guide helped you find a bar clamp that’s best for you! Have you used any of these bar clamps before? Do you own a bar clamp already? If not, are you considering purchasing one now? Please feel free to leave a comment, we would love to hear from you! 

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Brianna Goulet
About Brianna Goulet

Brianna is a freelance writer who covers home decor, DIY projects, and tool reviews. She’s written for a variety of sites on these topics. She's originally from Massachusetts but she's currently living in Florida.

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