The Whats and Hows of Welding Clamps

Welding is labour intensive, and sometimes you’ll need that extra pair of hands to get the job done. But most welders don’t always have that luxury. To get cleaner welds in workpieces that are unwieldy, heavy and difficult to set up, there are different types of clamps. Which one to use depends on the size and shape of the workpieces, and the materials they’re made from.

Purpose of Welding Clamps

Purpose of Welding Clamps

Welding doesn’t always necessitate the use of clamps. However, for larger workpieces that are difficult to position and set at the desired angles, there are no better tools than clamps. They allow for more precision when working, so you get better-looking welds. Not having to constantly adjust workpieces also saves time and unneeded effort.

Types of Welding Clamps

Welding clamps differ in size, shape, materials and the pressure they apply on the metal pieces being welded. Common in a range of trades (not just in welding) are C or G-clamps. These come in different designs, such as standard C-clamps, favoured for their all-round functionality and low-cost; G earth clamps used for large-scale industrial where grounding offers heightened safety; 4-in-1 standard clamps, used with a range of accessories to clamp together all kinds of differently shaped metal pieces’ as well as F-clamps used in smaller jobs that don’t need the high holding power. The most versatile for welding purposes are clamps used in clamping and holding together workpieces made of ferrous metals, or the magnetic welding clamp.

Why Magnetic Clamps?

Magnetic Clamps

Magnetic welding and earth clamps are popular because they are simple to use. They can be applied (and removed) with one hand, leaving you leverage to adjust the workpiece to the needed position. Let’s see why they make welding easier:

Magnetic earth welding clamps are simple stick and weld clamps. The purpose of earth clamps is to close the circuit in arc welding, as well as grounding the current so welders aren’t subjected to the risks of electrical shocks. A magnetic earth clamp is easily applied to any part of the workpiece (or metal workbench). It is particularly good in welding and holding on to difficult surfaces. Think larger car panels, pipes in bigger diameters, uneven or formed metal pieces and more.

Basically, anywhere that a spring-loaded earth clamp can’t be used. This allows for quick workflow (just remember to fit the ground in the lugs), so there’s no need to lose time in adjusting cumbersome clamps and setups onto areas that might not hold, or worse, don’t even fit. Pipe clamps do come in particularly large sizes, but there are jobs that even these are useless. Instead, an adequately rated magnetic ground clamp can get the job done quicker and safer.

There are some downsides, though not dealbreakers. Magnetic clamps can only be used when welding ferrous metals and alloys, like iron and steel. For aluminium, you’ll need to find a safer alternative. In addition, a magnetic earth clamp can attract metal scrapings towards the workpiece and the weld pool, so there’s the likelihood of less precision, and cleaning up afterwards. Similarly, on smaller and uneven surfaces, a magnetic welding clamp can just get in the way by interfering with the welding arc.

What Are Other Options?

If you don’t need grounding, but require securely fixed workpieces, then look to square magnetic clamps. These are ideal in getting tack welds in steel, often at right angles. That helps to better align the pieces being joined, so are helpful in getting precise inner and outer welds in things like metal frames and shelves. Magnetic square clamps are rated for different holding strengths, and can also be adjusted to 45 and 135 angles, so have a level of versatility for a range of jobs and welds.

When working with smaller pieces, different types of magnets are used. There are adjustable angle magnets, that can be set between 30 and 270 degrees, or when you need more scope in getting welds set at interesting angles. These are used in piping applications, welding sheet metals, as well as fixturing workpieces. Holes allow two or more magnets to be linked together. Fixed angle magnets are often used in right angles, but there are also 30-degree and 60-degree magnets. All of these types can come as switchable, or ON/OFF magnets. Switchable magnets allow for greater precision when aligning the different pieces of metal, as well as adjusting the workpiece during the welding process. Other magnets used for welding include snake magnets, found in welding larger pieces of sheet metals, especially car panels.

Using Magnetic Clamps and Magnets

Magnetic Clamps

Magnets and clamps are simple to use. Magnetic earth clamps need to be in good condition, without visible damage to ensure that the arc is maintained, and the current stays in the circuit. This in turn allows for a clean weld and little work in the cleanup. For earth clamps, look for the required amperage needed for the job. Small to medium jobs are covered with those at around 300 amps. Magnets help in getting the angles needed for the weld, and are easy to adjust, set and remove. Switchable magnets more so. Combining clamps and magnets can get the best and fastest results in a range of different welds.

Aiden Jones

Aiden Jones is an Australian student and a freelance writer. When not studying, Aiden spends time reading about different industrial equipment, information technology (computers and networking) and sports. With his elegant writing, Aiden enriches readers with his personal perspective and never steers away from the hard truth.