The utility players
Woodworking involves more than gluing up panels and cabinets. For the everyday tasks that require temporarily securing something to something else, these clamps come through in the clutch.
F-clamps ($15–$25 for 6–36")
These workhorses prove indispensable for securing items to your bench [Photo F], clamping drawer and box glue-ups [Photo G], and countless other jobs. The typical 4" jaw depth works for most applications, but available deeper jaws prove useful, too. The twisting action of the handle and the swivel head can shift parts out of position as you tighten the clamp, so when possible, place the movable jaw against the stationary part of an assembly.
Our recommendation: Start with four each in 6" and 18" lengths. You’ll soon be adding more in various sizes, and the moderate price makes it easy to do so.
One-hand ($18–$25 for 6–18")
When you have only one hand free, use it on the squeeze trigger that advances the jaw of a one-hand clamp [Photo H]. Your grip strength limits pressure (our tests show about 180 psi on average), but with lighterweight bars than F-clamps, you won’t use these for your most pressing jobs (sorry). Some sport a reversible jaw to create a spreader; others link together to make two clamps function as a longer one [Photo I].
Our recommendation: Buy a couple of 6" and a couple of 12".