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What is a Toggle Clamp?

By Alexis W.
Updated May 17, 2024
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A toggle clamp is a fastening device that usually consists of a handle to control the device, a holding bar to grip the work piece, and a linkage system of pivot pins and levers to boost the applied force. Once engaged, the toggle clamp essentially becomes locked. A toggle clamp typically serves to secure an object tightly in order to prevent it from moving or separating when inward pressure is applied.

The fixed-length levers, which are connected by pivot pins, supply the action and clamping force needed. The toggle clamp locks over the center of the pivot points. Once it is in this position, the toggle clamp will not unlock unless the linkage is moved. All toggle clamps generally work in the same manner, although they may have different orientations.

When it comes to manual clamping equipment, toggle clamps are extremely popular. As a result of their excellent power-to-movement ratio, simple installation, and quick and easy action, toggle clamps have multiple applications in carpentry, woodworking, construction, and metal working. They can be used while drilling, welding, and milling.

The multiplying principle in the toggle action force enables the toggle clamp to be applicable for other tasks besides holding. For example, a toggle clamp can also be used to position parts and perform mechanical tasks such as piercing sheet metal and staking rivets. It also can be a lone woodworkers best friend by being a third hand.

Just as there are multiple uses for toggle clamps, there are a wide variety of clamp designs. Some of these include vertical handle hold-down action, straight line action push-pull, horizontal handle hold-down action, pull action, and latch type. Other types include pneumatically operated, swing cylinders, hydraulically operated swing cylinders, vertical swing cylinders, push cylinders, die clamps, and clamping heads.

To select the right toggle clamp for a specific application, it usually is important to consider a number of factors including the size and shape of parts to be held; the uniformity of part size; holding capacity required; strength and skill of the operator; recurring rate of operation and whether it would be better to have a temporary or a permanent fixture; and the type of environment the toggle clamp is being used in. Some features to look for in selecting the right model include maximum clearance of clamp in its open position, quick and sure locking and instant releasing action, dropped forged body components, hardened steel pins and bushings, and precision construction.

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Discussion Comments

By Perdido — On Aug 08, 2011

My dad had a toggle clamp in his shop. After reading this description, I realized that is what the thing is called. I never knew the name for it, and I believe I just called it a vise.

I often played with it as a child. It resembled a red fire hydrant with an open mouth. It had a rotating pin on the front, and as I turned it in a circle, the mouth would open or shut, depending on which direction I turned it.

I remember my dad using it to hold objects while he worked on them. He used to place pieces of wood in there so that he could saw them into pieces.

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