Next, get yourself four 12"-long one-handed ratcheting bar clamps, such as those shown below. These work great for any quick clamping task, such as securing a workpiece to a bench, or small assemblies, such as gluing up a jewelry box.
As your skills and projects grow, add more clamps to this collection as needed. That could include different lengths of one-handed bar clamps, band clamps for mitered frames and boxes, and hand-spring clamps for light-duty jobs.
S-5 Mini clamps are the superior choice for mounting solar modules, solar racking systems, signs, satellite dishes and other products, but are also used with some of our high performance snow retention systems, like DualGard and X-Gard.
I love the quick clamps, but use mostly 6 inch, and some 12. I have more of those than any other type. They have serious drawbacks,, but they are very handy.. I think the 24 and 36 are a waste of money.
For long lengths, pipe clamps are the most budget friendly. I started out with a ton of them, but only pull them out now when running low on parallel clamps, which are my favorite for panel and carcase glue ups. I use mostly 24 inch, but if you can only afford a couple, longer is more cost effective.
I love the heavy duty Bessey F clamps -- not the ones with the clutch, which I hate. I use 6 inch and deep 12 inch. They are pricey, but very strong. I would have no use for longer versions, if you have parallel and bar clamps.
Personally I think pipe clamps are awful and don't own a single one. Plus I don't think they are the bargain people think they are, unless you have an abundance of black pipe sitting around. A 3/4" pipe clamp cost $15-17 a 48" piece of black pipe about $15 so a minimum of $30 ea. Right now a 2 pack of 48" parallel clamps at taytools.com is $89.99 and it is a much better clamp in my opinion.
My go to clamps are my Bessey Parallel clamps but then I build mostly larger items. I also recommend buying clamps in groups of 4's especially for case work 2 clamps are seldom sufficient. There are less expensive versions of parallel clamps as well, my son just got some from Tay Tools that look promising at probably 30% less than my Bessey.
And since I'm old I still have a sizable collection of the classic iron bar clamps in sizes for 36"-60" for when I really need to put the pressure on. Just kidding these seldom leave the rack these days after discovering parallel clamps.
I haven't owned a spring clamp in decades but have come to see value in quick acting clamps sold by Armor, they self adjust and can put a pretty good amount of clamping pressure on if you can squeeze them one handed.
This may be controversial [that's o.k., when haven't I been?], but, even if money grew on trees, it'd be a stunted, dwarf variety. I'd suggest this friend in need of a clamp starter selection look into HFT's Pittsburgh brand F-Style and Pipe clamps. they've greatly improved over the years. [Their pipe clamps with stand off legs are the equivalent of Irwins but usually a buck or three less expensive apiece.] I started with a half dozen F-Clamps in 6", 12", 18", 24" and 36" apiece and then doubled up on those as I went along. The wooden hand-screws are far more useful than you think; using one 12" clamp to hold a board on edge and another one to clamp the first clamp to your bench is a very quick and easy way to hold that board while you joint an edge for example. [Put the board to be planed edge down on your bench, clamp it from one end with the hand-screw laying flat on the bench and then use the second clamp to clamp the first one to your bench.] I once had someone look at my clamps - in my house, no less - and start snickering about their origin, etc. and I reminded him that if your joints truly fit you don't need too much pressure to hold them together. Somehow he didn't like that. Oh, well.
For the long stuff, I would pass on the pipe clamps (I own 4) and go with the Bessey style. If you add in their Framing Set and K-body Extender, you've got a much more versatile and adaptable clamping 'system' rather than trying to maneuver 6' of pipe around the shop.
If you do much case work parallel clamps are great IMHO. A couple decades ago if I ever ran out of 24" k-bodys I bought more at the next sale. I kept doing this until I stopped running out during glue ups. Other lengths are good too. Once you start pushing over 4 feet a switch to pipe clamps may be in order.
Cheap pipe clamps are more trouble than they are worth. A HFT 3/4" pipe clamp almost did in hours of work for me just the other day. It and it's brother hit the recycle bin. I have a dozen Jorgie 3/4" pipe clamps so they won't be missed. They're not for everything but, when you need a quality pipe clamp, a pipe clamp is what you want.
I would recommend a 'buy as you need them' method to your friend. The clamps I gathered as I needed them are the ones I use the most. The ones I bought to "get started" are generally the last to get used.
Parallel clamps are my favorite, it's interesting to see in this post that many people love them, so not-so-much. I have eight 12", four 24" and two 31", and that suits me fine for now (fairly new hobbyist with a fraction of the clamps owned by more experienced folks). I have Jet and Bessey, and prefer the Jet (I assume that's a Coke-vs-Pepsi thing). To the OP, if your friend is a patient person, camelcamelcamel will let you know about sales on Amazon. I set a target price, forgot about it, got an email notification, and bought them on sale.
If this is a thread about which you clamps you love, a companion thread could be which clamps you hate. My list-topper is the Rocker "sure-foot" aluminum bar clamp. They go on sale a lot, which I why I have them. They are cranky and fickle and loathesome in every way. My clamp of last resort, they reside (literally) under my bench.
I had a bunch of parallel clamps. Sold them all and bought twice as many Bessey heavy F clamps. Best thing I ever did. Search for Michael Fortunes article on glue ups. Begone heavy clumsy parallel clamps.
I'll just chime in again with a cautionary tale . . . one can get a little clamp-crazy and snap up good deals as they wander along through life. This describers me pretty well a decade or so ago. The downside is that you have to store them. They eat large amounts of space and honing your choices to fewer clamps that meet your needs is not a bad thing ;-)
Almost all of my clamps are stored in between the joists, or, in the case of quick clamps, clamped to the joists themselves. It makes reaching up and grabbing one very convenient when my hands are busy. Its one of the reasons I really like the one-handed clamps.
A good clamp is worth its weight, but some times you just need extra clamps. To fill out my clamp collection I went to Harbor Freight and bought a selection of aluminum bar clamps. Then I dimensioned some off cuts and used it to fill up the inside of the bar. It makes them way stiffer. It is a way to take you clamp money and spread it out a bit further.
I personally hate bar clamps and consider the few I have a waste of money. Home depot sells the Bessey parallel 24"& 50" clamps for $50ish a piece and has a really great deal on an assorted pack of light duty bessey F clamps. I would start there, in whatever combination makes the most sense for the next project in mind, and maybe throw in a couple 6-12" quick clamps for basic shop things.
I use my Irwin pipe clamps all the time. I have 12 of them - various sizes. They don't have a deep reach like parallel clamps, but I simply clamp from both sides when I glue up a panel. I would recommend 4 each of 24" and 36" and later get longer ones. You'll regret only have two. I also use my 6" and 12" F clamps (4 of each) a lot. I first bought Bessy and as they fail, I'm replacing them with Irwin. I also have a bunch of spring clamps. Home Depot had them for $1 each a few years ago and I stocked up. I rarely use the quick clamps I have.
My only 'must-buy' are small quick-clamps. The Irwin ones are popular. I have the deWalt 4 pack and they are so good I bought 8. Stronger than they look and useful for so many things round the shop. It's nice to have a clamp that can hold a stop block or featherboard in place and not get in the way.
My second buy would be 4 deWalt heavy duty 600mm clamps. These are REALLY strong and are nearly as good as parallel jaw clamps for a lower price, plus the one-handed operation advantage. You can use them to clamp longer pieces if you need to with wooden extension pieces.
I'll chime in again because I think it is important to keep in mind the OP's friend plan to build mostly casework. Casework requires larger and usually heavier clamps. Since most new woodworkers start building casework with plywood not solid wood I would say you could skip the 24" parallel clamps and get 4 x 30 or 36" and 4 x 48" throw in 4 x 12" clamps of some type me I would do f-body because they can apply more pressure when needed than quick clamps but I wouldn't argue to strenuously if you wanted quick clamps. Yes I know this is more like a $400 budget for clamps but you can't escape the fact it is the minimum of what you need to build casework. Buying a bunch of clamps that don't meet your needs is a waste of money IMO
Lots of good advice above. I will add how many of one thing will you make? Bessey clamps are great but are expensive. I bought HF parallel clamps when they still had them and they work fine. I mostly build small tables and an occasional large dining room table. The parallel clamps work great for this kind of work. (I suggest waxing the shafts to allow easy glue removal - or put a strip of painter tape where glue squeeze out would get on the shaft.) I use pipe clamps for larger assemblies. I added wood overlays on each end to aid assembly. I have a bunch of HF 'F' clamps. They are OK for light duty but, hey, if you are joining two boards together they really should not need a 10 ton compressive force to get the boards together, right? (I will never swear under oath that I have not used the 10 ton load.) I have the two of the HF heavy duty ratcheting clamps and they work very well. The cheap ones do not work for me. I just used the wood screws today. I use the spring clamps every now and then. I did use my 'C' clamps when I was building my work bench, not that much lately. 041b061a72