We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Rail Clamp?

By Paul Scott
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The term rail clamp applies to a large range of products designed to support, guide, join, or provide a decorative finish to hand rails, train tracks, and cable guide rails. Rail clamps are typically designed with an internal profile which mirrors the external profile of the rail system on which they are used. They may be of a slip on, one piece, or a two piece, clamshell design and made of light gauge or heavy materials depending on their use. Rail clamps used in industrial rail applications are usually plain and utilitarian while those used in domestic, architectural, or marine environments typically feature attractive designs and decorative finishes.

Rail clamps are used as supports, guides, and finishings on a number of railing systems in various applications. A rail clamp is generally formed with an internal profile which mimics the shape of the rail it is designed to clamp or support. Depending on the degree of design force involved, these clamps may be manufactured from light gauge materials or from strong cast, forged, or machined steel. The type of clamping and locking mechanisms also depend on the forces involved. These can range from one or two simple self-tapping type screws to multiple rows of heavy gauge bolts.

The overall design of a rail clamp will typically be dictated by the shape of the rail and the degree of visual appeal that is called for. For instance, rail clamps intended for locking train tracks in place are manufactured from cast or forged steel and locked in place on the track member and cross ties by large bolts or spikes. The internal profile of these clamps is a mirror of the cross section of the track member. Rail clamps used to support or finish round hand rails usually are of a two-part, clamshell design or consist of a spherical member with a hole in the center through which the rail is passed. These clamps will also be fitted with a locking plate or lug which is used to attach the clamp to a support.

A rail clamp intended for square rails, such as those used as runners for festoon cables on overhead cranes, are also often of a half shell design. In these applications, the rail clamp will lock onto the back of the rail only to allow the unimpeded travel of the cable runners. Square rail clamps may also be simple L-profile plates with a single locking bolt on either end. Most rail designs also have finishing clamps specifically designed for them. These are generally used at the end of a length of rail and are typically closed on one end.

The design, finish, and embellishment of a rail clamp also depends largely on environmental and aesthetic considerations. A rail clamp designed to support a hand rail on a luxury yacht or a penthouse balcony is likely to be stylishly designed and feature a polished or brushed finish or decorative plating. A rail clamp used for a similar hand rail on an off-shore oil rig is likely to be very plain and functional and feature a utilitarian, corrosion-resistant finish. Rail clamps are also manufactured from high-impact plastics, wood, and composites for use with rails of like materials. Temporary clamps may also be of a quick release design and lock onto the rail using a swing out bolt and wing nut arrangement.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Related Articles

Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.