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When joining materials together, adhesives and fasteners create a fairly strong bond. But welding is definitely the superior method to create a permanent bond. Just as in any application, in order to create a good weld, you need to have the proper gear and tools to get the job done.
Beside a welding machine and cutting torch, both seasoned professional welders and newbies in the field commonly require these essential tools and supplies:
- Welding cart
- Welding table
- Welding safety equipment such as a welding helmet, welding gloves, welding safety glasses, welding respirator, welding apron, etc.
- Welding clamps
- Hammers, Files, Brushes and Dollies
- Measuring tools like tape measurers, rulers, calipers, T-Squares etc.
One of the more essential tools a welder needs is a good set of welding clamps.
Quick Take: The Best Welding Clamps
Here are some of the best clamps that should find a home in your toolkit.
- TEKTON 6-Inch C-Clamp
- Pittsburgh 12” Heavy Duty F-style Welding Clamp
- Drixet Arrow Shape Corner Clamp With Grip Hole
Keep reading below for more detailed reviews and other important info to know before making a purchase.
When You’ll Want Use Welding Clamps
Not all metal materials are located in a secure structure such as a pipe joint. Many are freestanding plates of metal used to fabricate or manufacture an item or part. Others are located in unsteady or movable structures.
In order to keep the metal parts to be welded securely in place, the weld operator can use clamps to set up and stabilize the metal. That allows you to keep both hands free to strike an arc and feed the wire through the welding machine to create a smooth weld. And of course - it helps reduce the risk of getting a painful shock.
When you’re tack welding, you want to be sure to leave no openings between the metal work pieces. It is very hard for a welder to hold two metal pieces perfectly flush and stable while at the same time trying to operate a welding machine.
Using several welding clamps to hold the work pieces together ensures a strong hold that will not allow any gaps between the work pieces. This helps make sure that the amount of filler that needed is minimized. And that means a stronger, cleaner weld.
Types of Welding Clamp
There is no one universal welding clamp that will allow a welding operator to handle every type of task out there. There are so many types of materials and welding jobs as well as angles at which to weld that many types of clamps are necessary if you want to be able to firmly grip the materials and keep them in place during the process.
Here are the primary types of weld clamps that welders commonly use:
C-Clamps are the most common type of clamp and useful in many applications such as woodworking and welding. It’s ideal for holding a material securely against a hard surface such as a worktable or bench. They are easily recognizable because they are shaped like the letter “C”. They’re fairly low cost and come in a wide variety of sizes.
F-Clamps are also known as “Bar clamps” and are designed for materials that require a wide opening in order to secure them. In order to achieve that wider opening, the F-clamp has a sliding bar that adjusts to the opening width required.
Pipe clamps are very similar to F-clamps but they use a pipe in place of the sliding bar.
Corner Clamps are also known as “angle clamps” or “miter clamps” . They are excellent for connecting corners together In fabrication.
Two-axis Clamps are essential if you are trying to weld a perfect 90-degree corner or a 90 degree two-way weld. The clamp has a handle at the bottom that is attached to a threaded screw which adjusts the clamp to the materials being worked with like a mitre joint. It allows the weld operator to quickly mount square or round tubing or horizontal flat bar to be welded and clamp it securely in place vertically in order to create a smooth weld.
Pliers are very handy for picking up metal items that are too hot to be handled with gloves or to get a secure grip on a particular object. Some pliers are very specialized for a specific use such as spot welding locking pliers, which are often used with a MIG welder to tightly secure metal panels together and allow the welding operator to have both hands free in order to position the MIG welder over the area to be welded.
Vice Grips are similar to clamps but usually used for holding smaller metal items or unusually-shaped items securely. When you are using a grinder or sander to finish a metal piece, a vice grip is just the tool to use. Some vice grips are specialized for a specific use such as a corner vise grip. This tool is often used in automotive fabrication or repair welding to hold heavy materials and tubing securely in place with the seam exposed for welding
As you can see, welding clamps can make a big difference in the success of a welding project. A welding operator will want to buy a variety of sizes and types of clamps to suit their purpose.
Quick Comparison Chart of Top Clamps for Welding
TEKTON 6-Inch C-Clamp
Pittsburgh 12" Heavy Duty F-Style Welding Clamp
Drixet Arrow Shape with Grip Hole
Hobart 770565 Two Axis Welding Clamp
Hobart Multi-function Pliers
Reviews of the Best Clamps for Welding
We’ve looked at compared some of the top clamps in each category to determine what we believe are 6 welding clamps of different types worthy your consideration.
The TEKTON 6-inch C-clamp is versatile, sturdy clamp that is ideal for securing parts for welding.
- Constructed of cast malleable iron
- Frame has I-beam design that is lower weight and stronger than other C-clamps
- Chrome plated Acme threaded screw turns smoothly and does not stick or hang up
- Stable swivel jaw pad lines up with work surface even when pressure is applied.
- Sliding handle bar allows for several hand positions and offers a comfortable grip.
- At $11, this tool is very affordable.
- A few users have reported that the pad/tip on the threaded screw shaft can sometimes come loose or twist when you tighten the C-clamp.
TEKTON has an “ Always Guaranteed” policy regardless of when or where the tool was purchased. If you have a problem with one of their tools, you just need to email them a picture of the damaged tool and a brief description of the trouble along with your mailing address. They will ship out a replacement tool within one business day at no cost to you.
If you are looking for a heavy-duty bar clamp for welding, the Pittsburgh 12” Heavy Duty F-Style is the one you want.
- The steel threaded screw is copper coated for smooth turning
- Pivoting pressure cap holds items in place securely without wobbling.
- Opens to a large 4 ¾ inch throat depth
- Has a maximum clamping capacity of 1000 lb.
- At $34, this is a pricy welding tool.
The Pittsburgh line is a brand from Harbor Freight, which is made in China. Harbor Freight offers a lifetime warranty on their tools
The Drixet Arrow Shape Corner Clamp is a Magnet Welding Holder designed to align corners for any degree angles and hold them firmly in place for welding.
- Does not require turning any threaded screws or adjusting in order to secure materials for accurate welding.
- Magnetic force will hold up to 66 lbs.
- Arrow shape allows for multiple angles such as 45, 90 and 135
- Constructed of durable steel that is riveted together for extra strength.
- Red painted finish prevents rust
- Center Hole acts as the handle
- Magnetic pull is so strong it can actually pull on the welding machine if it gets too close. Keep reading below for more info on the pros and cons of magnetic clamps.
Drixet Company offers a lifetime warranty on this product.
If you are looking to weld a 90-degree corner on any type of metal stock, the Hobart 770565 Two Axis Welding Clamp is an essential tool.
- Great little tool for hands-free welding.
- Easily adjustable floating handle and spindle screw to align and hold the material to be welded.
- Has the ability to clamp two different size materials together
- Works with square or round tubes and angle and channel iron.
- Relatively Inexpensive at $28.
- Some users report that when using stock that is less than 1 inch, the moving jaw of the tool does not stay vertically square.
- Jaws only open to 2.95 inches and the jaws of the clamps curve outwards making it difficult to hold materials securely.
- Handle is made of plastic, making it less durable to stress and susceptible to melting when used with an arc-welding machine.
- While this clamp works well in lightweight projects or for hobby or home shop use, they are not precise enough for use in commercial projects.
Hobart is made in China but assembled in the US. The company offers a 3-year limited warranty. If you were to receive a defective tool, you can contact Hobart immediately and they’ll send a replacement unit at once.
If you are looking for a very versatile welding clamp, look no further than the Irwin Vise Grip.
- Wide opening U-shaped jaws with a throat depth of 9 ½ inches and an opening of 7 ½ inches
- Easily adjustable turnscrew to fit work and apply pressure stays adjusted for repeat use
- Guarded release trigger protects against accidental release but can quickly be unlocked.
- Constructed of durable heat-treated steel
- Strong clamping power
- Some users felt that the metal finish was not very smooth and the pivot points were not completely solid.
Irwin Tools offers a lifetime warranty on its tools.
If you are looking for a multi-function tool that can be used for welding and mechanical jobs, then Hobart 770150 multi-function pliers will be a great choice.
- Curved handles with very comfortable handgrips and spring-loaded feature to reduce hand fatigue.
- Constructed of heavy-duty stainless steel
- Narrow jaws permit you to get into tight spaces and cleaning nozzles
- Jaws have built-in gripping to securely hold contact tips and welding nozzles
- Multi-use with twelve functions
- Some users reported that the cutting function of the pliers did not work well.
- Jaws sometimes do not align properly
As mentioned above, Hobart offers a 3-year limited warranty. If the product is defective when you get it, just notified Hobart and they’ll send out a new one.
Magnetic Clamps or Not?
When welding an item, one of the hardest things for a weld operator is keeping materials that need to be welded aligned in position for welding. A weld operator plays a juggling game using both hands to operate the welding machine, feed the wire or weld filler and hold the two materials in proper position for welding.
Traditional welding clamps require turning a threaded screw to adjust the clamp to keep the two materials to be welded in position. Magnetic welding clamps make the positioning easier because they use magnetic force to hold the two materials to be welded securely in place.
This frees up your hands to focus on the machine and filler material, which increases the chances for a more accurate and smooth weld line. Magnetic clamps are particularly useful when welding materials at an angle, which is a hard position to align clamps for.
Magnetic clamps are not suitable for all types of welding, though. Magnetic clamps can affect the weld. DC welding creates its own magnetic field. In this type of welding, when the magnetic flux surrounding the electrode and the metal work pieces become unbalanced, the two magnetic forces create motion that can cause the magnetic arc to pull off to one side and become difficult to stabilize and control. That of course means you have distortion in the weld.
This effect is known as magnetic arc blow. It’s not really a factor in AC welding, at least, because the polarity and direction of the magnetic flux change frequently.
The use of welding clamps makes the weld operator’s job easier. It’s almost like having an extra set of hands to stabilize and securely keep the two metal weld work pieces in position. That helps you lay down a smooth weld.
There are so many different types of welding clamps available that no matter what angle or type and shape of metal you’re working with, there is bound to be a welding clamp that can help you keep the materials securely in place so you can complete the project efficiently.