Generally, clamps are fasting devices engineered to give support and grip as well as secure objects and tools you intend to work with. As a newbie in the welding industry, this is one of the most important tools a welder has to have even as a professional, as it makes welding a lot easier and stress-free. Just as they sound, they can be used to clamp an object to a surface such as the welding tale, and some other clamps work better at holding two or more objects together for the purpose of making your welding work more pleasant thereby giving you a better weld experience.
During the process of welding, irrespective of your level of expertise, certain objects are bound to make movements when pressure is put on them by your welding activities, and this calls for the need of tools such as welding clamps to give us more welding accuracy by keeping the workpiece firmly In place.
Clamps come in different shapes and sizes and with different parts which we will discuss along the way on this post. However, if you have a clamp that has just one jaw, that means the clamp is designed to fit into work surfaces such as welding tables and benchtops.
There are lots of varieties out there which are mostly superb in what they do, although they were made for different purposes, some are temporary models while some are permanent
What is a clamp used for?
As mentioned earlier, a clamp is a handy used by not just welders but also carpenters and other handy works in perfectly holding workpiece in place in order to carry out basic work on it
Here are a few instances where generally clamping might be needed
Carpentry: Carpenters make use of a clamp to hold pieces of wood down to a workbench in order to perform varieties of woodworks with less hassle. These tasks include sawing and chiseling
Metalworks: here we are talking about tasks such as grinding, welding, and making fabrications to series of metals. In order to attain a certain level of accuracy with this, it is necessary to make use of a clamp to hold down metals used for working such as steel, iron, aluminum, etc.
Filing: when filing metals or woods, it is essential to restrict movement so clamps come in really handing in this process
Gluing: for glues to work perfectly infusing components together, it is required that the components are held together for a while for the glue to dry out between those components and a clamp does this job perfectly.
What are clamps made of?
There are various types of clamps out there from a different manufacturer, they are all designed as uniquely as possible therefore they are designed with varieties of materials. However, there are certain essential materials that are most common among the most recognized clamps out there. Each of these comes with its pros and cons.
The Frame: This part of a clamp is usually made of a majority of Iron and steel on most clamps out there. Below is how the steel and iron frame differs.
Iron Frame: This is commonly in a cast-iron form, Cast Iron is a hard, relatively brittle alloy of iron and carbon which can be readily cast in a mold and contains a higher proportion of carbon than steel The more carbon content your metals have, the harder and stronger they get, which however makes them more crack sensitive. This is nothing to worry about when it comes to clamps as they would not be subjected to such level of heat
Cast irons are a group of iron-carbon combinations. Their high carbon content (generally 2–4%) gives cast iron its trademark hardness
Steel: Steel is widely used a lot in the construction of machines and tools such as clamps, and this is highly due to their level of tensile strength and corrosion resistance, this makes them very good for a clamp frame
The Jaws of most clamps out there are made of steel which automatically means the frame of the clamp will also be made of the same material, this is due to matching strength of the clamp when putting under pressure, however, the jaws of some clamp models are still made from iron.
Screw: This part of the clamp is usually engineered with steel material to provide enough flexibility between the screw and the jaw when under pressure from the clamping of a workpiece. Its ability to withstand such pressure makes it suitable to make up the screw of the clamp
Handle: Clamp handles are usually made of either steel, plastic, or wood. The clamps made with steel are sometimes chrome plated and have a sliding pin style handle. However, clamps made from plastics are more ergonomically shaped thereby there has a better grip which obviously every clamp user would love. The other alternatives would be the wooden handle clamps, I barely use this because unlike steel and plastic handles, they are not capable of providing that much grip when tightening
Rules for clamping:
- Avoid extra-large clamps, ensure they are well suited to deep-throat clamps
- Avoid bent framed clamps
- Except clamps designed specifically for wrenches, do not use them or hammers and pliers to tighten clamps
- If you are using C-clamps, ensure you are using special lifting clamps rather than manual pulling.
- C-Clamps are not used to construct scaffolds
- Avoid spillage by applying a clamp load in a perpendicular manner to the part
- Never over-tighten a clamp to prevent damages to the clamp
- Use a minimum of two clamps to avoid rotation when in use
- For clamps with wooding parts, use a piece of scrap wood between the clamp jaws and the wooding parts
Types of clamps
Screw Clamps: Just as the name denotes, this uses a screw mechanism for jaw adjustment as well as adjusting the workpiece itself. This type of clamp is usually found in categories such as the C clamps also known as G clamps, F clamps, rack clamps, etc.
Quick-release clamps: These are often referred to as one-handed clamps. They are engineered to give users a quick release of a workpiece in just one simple movement. The categories of clamps that falls under this include the trigger clamps, lever clamps, and the spring clamps
Bar Clamps: These clamps are designed to fit heavy duty work perfectly, the long metal bars hold the two jaws to a parallel manner while the extensive bar allows you to clamp workpieces effectively
Locking clamps: This type of clamp is best suited for larger objects where other types of clamps might fail, and it also allows the quick lock and release of the workpiece through an integrated lever with just one swift movement
Angle clamps: These are your go-to clamps if you are looking to get in some angle or corner cuts to your workpieces.
Band clamps: These are your go-to clamps for weirdly shapes workpieces or shapes such as a circle or square object
Toggle clamps: They are very exceptional and reliable in holding a workpiece steady so much that they are usually permanently fixed to a worktop or workbench.
Categories of welding clamps
C Clamp (G Clamp): These categories of clamps are definitely one of the most common out there and this is down to not just their versatility but also their ability to handle enormous pressure when being put to use in holding high-pressure materials together, however, it’s not usually to make a swift release with this type of clamp and adjustment could also cause a bit of headache if not used to it. They are designed for one-handed use
F Clamp (Sliding Bar Clamp): This has a bit of advantage over the C Clamp because of its ability to adjust and readjust very quickly with one movement and also with just one hand. Its design mechanism uses the cantilever principle which gives it a lot of friction and has a wider opening capacity than the C Clamp
Two-Axis Clamp: They are 90-degree clamps that are often fixed permanently to work tables, tops or benches, and are capable of holding two rods of varying thickness at an angle together.
What to look for in a welding clamp
- Material: as mentioned earlier, welding clamps are usually made up of either iron or steel which, to be honest, does the job well and it all gets down to individual preference. However, steel is usually cheaper than iron so you might want to consider your pocket when making your decision for a welding clamp.
- Manufacturing details: It is always advised to get inclined with the sort of clamp you are working with and this can be known by studying the manufacturers model, you might want to find out the quality of the clamp through this.
- Padding: they can come as soft or rubber pads on areas that hold materials together and they essential to prevent scratches and abrasions to workpieces
- Jaw gap: Make sure you get this right by ensuring you have the perfect size fit clamps for your work, so get to know the maximum thickness of your clamp ahead of time.
- Proper alignment: The idea of clamps in the first place is to give you comfort and stability when welding or working on your workpiece, therefore alignment plays a lot of roles and your clamp should always give you the best alignment to work with before you start to weld.
Building or Buying a Welding Table with Holes
As a welder, before you thought about welding clamps, I am sure you must have thought about your workspace which you do your welding at first. You might have some on ground and you might decide to just create some to do your welding works. Welders work with a lot of hot metal, electric arcs, and weld splatters so wooden workbenches just don’t cut it anymore especially when you are considering its level of durability.
This is why you need a welding table that is specifically built to accommodate the addition of other accessories. When you embark on a lot of welding projects, you would understand the significance of a welding table with holes, and we would discuss some of what is needed in a welding table to make it suitable for you to practice how to weld your own clamps and make use of them.
Now here is the question why do welding tables have holes? This is not a fancy set up, as in welding every little detail matters to give an excellent welding experience. The holes made in a welding table is done in order to give the welder more control and stability when setting up a welding job on workpieces. Some of the tasks are
- The full and easy use of the tabletop to clamp
- The easy placement of jigs, stops, and clamps
- Perfect alignment of pieces and parts
You can find welding table readily available in any standard welding shop or make yours easily yourself, they come in varying styles and sizes as much as you can imagine, the holes are in different sizes, and some have adjustable legs to vary the working height
Welding tables are available in almost any style and size you can imagine. Some have adjustable legs to vary the working height. Even the holes come in different sizes.
For those who don’t have the luxury of time to build a welding table themselves, you can easily head out to a welding supply store to purchase a welding table. However, there are certain important features and factors that you need to put into concentration, before deciding what table to purchase. Some of these include your budget and the type of welding projects you often run, making sure your welding table option is a perfect fit for your welding project requirements.
Here are a few important factors you should consider for your welding table
- Your Projects: the type and size of your project is a very important factor in terms of the level of weight you intend to put on your welding table and the type of material you normally weld with. so your project specifications is a top factor before making decisions on what welding table to buy or build
- Quality: In welding, when it comes to tools, machines, and other materials, quality of utmost importance. The quality of the construction of your welding table determines its durability in the shop environment and also gives the table and its holes more accuracy which is needed for the job. Good quality portable welding tables also make it easier to use around the store.
- Size and Weight : Just like I mentioned earlier, size and weight is a very important factor especially if you are working on or building really large projects which would automatically require bigger and heavier tables. However imagine if you have a project that requires you to work out of your welding shop, you might want to have a table that is relatively portable enough to move around.
- Height: If at all possible, buy a welding table that has adjustable legs. Being able to adjust the height of your working area can make your welding experience much more pleasant. A table with that is well ergonomic in nature makes it easy to adjust your workspace rather than having to adjust your working position to the workspace itself. You get tired easily doing this and it reduces your welding efficiency.
- Accuracy: A good welding table should be square, flat and accurate and square in shape, with all holes, precisely and accurately drilled to fit accessories
- Budget: Of course in everything, the pocket matters a lot, but my advice is to not be too strict with your budget and try to stretch it a bit as much as you can still afford. Welding tables with high and best quality are usually more expensive but they would be worth your investment in the long run.
So now you have all your accessories for making welding clamps ready, and you just finished building your perfect weld table or maybe you just purchased one, the important thing is they are all of the standard quality. Now you need a way or method to weld clamps and you are wondering how to go about them.
Some people run away from this task and rather go ahead to buy ready-made clamps which you can get at a minimum of 20 to 25 dollars each, that definitely wouldn’t be chosen and if you are reading this I’m guessing purchasing them is also not something you want to keep doing. In making your own clamps, you are guaranteed to save at least 15 to 20 bucks per clamp. All you need to do is have your materials ready to build one.
Here are the steps in building welding clamps
Prepare the bolt
Remove all coatings from your bolts-you don’t want anything to contaminate your weld puddle, and you especially don’t want to breathe in anything that might be harmful to your health. Then cut the threaded section from the bolt.
Set up the clamp
We are just keen on the tensioning bit of the clamp. The fixed jaw divide should be removed. You can essentially utilize a saw band saw, hack saw, or Sawzall to cut the fixed jaw off. remove the fix jaw bit of the clamp. remove any paint or powder covering from where the fixed jaw used to be.
Welding the clamp
Attach your clamp to the head of the jolt or top of the round stock (in the event that you decided to go with that alternative) utilizing your favored welding process. I always decide to TIG mine together. You need to guarantee that the clamp sits at an angle comparative with the head of the bolt in order to make a coupling activity between the bolt and tabletop when pressure is applied through the clamp. When you are satisfied with your work, everything can be completely welded.
Finishing the weld
When everything has cooled, embed it into your table and clamp something down. On the off chance that all has worked out in a good way as you would want, you should not be able to move the piece you just clamped down.