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Thread: pipe for clamps

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Collegeville PA (30 min west of Philly)
    Posts
    695

    pipe for clamps

    Hi!
    I'm re-working my clamps situation, and need some advice on pipe. I've searched an searched and read and read... not a lot of consensus out there on a seemingly simple topic.

    I saw a youtube recently where the poster uses "plated electrical conduit" cut to shorter lengths and joined with couplings.

    Benefits to his approach are:
    - Zinc? plated surface (as opposed to hot dip galvanized) provides better "bite" for the clamp hardware
    - Shorter lengths joined together allow easier storing of shorter clamps and a lot of flexibility in sizing your clamps
    - electrical conduit couplings easily screw on/off (as opposed to taper thread couplings that cinch tighter the further they are threaded)


    My issue is... there's a lot of pipe out there, and tough to make head's or tails of.


    EMT conduit is very cheap ($5 for 10 feet) but is thin walled, bendy, and unable to be threaded. So this one is out.

    Intermediate Metallic Conduit (IMC) is interesting... able to be threaded, stronger than EMT, lighter than RMC... Maybe?

    Rigid Metallic Conduit (RMC), in galvanized steel, I think is what is typically used by most. When (say) Grainger talks of RMC being "galvanized" are they talking about "hot dipped galvanized" (in other words, not a change from the slipping issue I have already?). My local electrical supply houses have no idea what I'm asking when I call them.

    Rigid also comes in aluminum, which seems like it would be much friendlier to carry around the shop etc. But is it strong enough?



    So.......... my questions recap:
    - Agree that EMT is too thin to use?
    - Would IMC be a candidate?
    - Is galv steel RMC the typical product used?
    - Is "galvanized" RMC the same thing as "hot dip galvanized"?
    - Is aluminum a candidate?
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  2. #2
    EMT sounds way too thin, IMC wouldn't be much better. RMC and galvanized water pipe are pretty much the same thing. Aluminum would probably be too soft and get chewed up by the steel clamp parts.

    I use off the shelf black pipe. Not sure what problem is being solved here, regular pipe as worked well for decades.

    A lot of hand tight couplings in your pipe is not going to be good for rigidity. You could tighten them with a wrench, but that seems be rather complicated when you want to grab a clamp, plus it dings up the pipe.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Collegeville PA (30 min west of Philly)
    Posts
    695
    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Seemann View Post
    Not sure what problem is being solved here, regular pipe as worked well for decades.

    Thanks, very helpful! lol

    The original post clearly states that pipe clamp hardware can slip on hot dip galvanized pipe. Soo..... looking to solve for that.

    Second issue noted is that "regular pipe" is not as easily defined as you'd think. In your case, you think "regular pipe" is black pipe which leaves black marks on wood unless you solve for that somehow else (not interested in that personally). In other's case, "regular pipe" means hot dip galvanized pipe (issue noted above again). And then there's youtube guy that mentions plated pipe as a good substitute (clamps don't slip, cheaper than hot dipped according to him, easier to add/remove couplings as compared to black pipe).

    As for hand tightening couplings... I join, and have watched many others more experienced that me do the same, my existing hot dip galvanized pipes together with hand tightened couplings already... The force is almost entirely inwards (not near as much laterally) so this has worked very well. Just building on this existing concept that has been around for "decades"

    edit: So... I'd still be interested in insights on my questions above please.

    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    NW Indiana
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    878
    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Seemann View Post
    EMT sounds way too thin, IMC wouldn't be much better. RMC and galvanized water pipe are pretty much the same thing. Aluminum would probably be too soft and get chewed up by the steel clamp parts.

    I use off the shelf black pipe. Not sure what problem is being solved here, regular pipe as worked well for decades.

    A lot of hand tight couplings in your pipe is not going to be good for rigidity. You could tighten them with a wrench, but that seems be rather complicated when you want to grab a clamp, plus it dings up the pipe.

    ^^^agree^^^

    And I have found the black pipe from Menards to be much smoother and cleaner than anywhere else.
    If it wasn't for the "last minute", nothing would ever get done.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    52,952
    Off the shelf black pipe from the 'borg for me, too, for the few pipe clamps I have in my shop.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    20,275
    I've read long discussions about all sorts of reasons for one thing or another. I have run galvanized pipe from the BORG for nearly 20 years without issue. I'd read that black pipe stains, galvo can too but to a much lesser degree. I put bits of tape at the joints when gluing up panels so I don't have to clean off the pipes so the whole black versus galvo discussion became moot after the fact . I bought 10' sticks. The BORG would cut once and thread the resulting ends for free so I had them cut at about 3'. I picked up a few couplers and have been able to do anything that I might use pipe clamps for ever since.
    "The Danish government believes that if we train 5,000 designers, and produce
    one Hans Wegner, the money is very well spent." - Ole Gjerlov-Knudsen

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Bay Area, CA
    Posts
    361
    Black iron gas pipe. I bought pieces roughly twice as long as I wanted and sawed them in half, so I wouldn't be snagging my hands on sharp pipe threads.

    If that isn't good enough, you can get stainless steel. A 10' 3/4" is only about $150 ;-)

  8. #8
    FWIW in my area, plumbing supply companies sell the pipe at half the price of big box stores. I just picked up 6 20í pieces for about $1 per foot. I cut to desired length, thread and Iím good to go.

  9. #9
    Sorry I can't help with specific working properties of the pipes you mention.

    I use black gas pipe.

    For my use, having a bunch of 30" and 48" pipes gets me through most of my needs. 30"'s are not so long that they are cumbersome on smaller glue ups. Coupling them does introduce a slight bend, but it's not been too much of an issue, and worth the trade-off for not having to keep 72" pipe around for the random wide glue ups I might do once a year.

    I appreciate the staining issue. I have a bunch of 5mm shims (Dominos, actually) that are used as standoffs. Even with non-marking pipe, the pipes can dent your surface.

  10. #10
    My black pipe was probably from Menards or Home Depot or both. Standard schedule 40 black/gas pipe. I have access to a pipe threader, so for me it was easy to make whatever lengths I wanted. If I'm worried about marks from the pipe, I put poly sheeting or wax paper over the pipe or work. For laminations, I usually glue before final planing, so the planer removes any discoloration.

    I've got galvanized and black pipe, in general, I prefer the black pipe, but that is probably because my galvanized pipe is old water pipe that has started to get powder (zinc oxide?) on the outside of the pipe.

    One thing I found is that if you start with standard 10' pipe, cutting the pipe into lengths of 60" and 30" works better than 48" and 24" if you work with lots of 24" and 48" pieces.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    West Lafayette, IN
    Posts
    5,825
    As said, youíre trying to solve a problem that isnít there. Black pipe clamps have been used for decades and decades by some of the best furniture makers in America. Buy some black pipe and get back to woodworking!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Wayland, MA
    Posts
    1,916
    Black iron gas pipe. No problems that I've noticed yet, It's been ~50 years.

  13. #13
    I use pipe clamps exclusively. Some have black pipe and some have galvanized pipe. All but one of my clamps utilize a toothed jaw on the adjustable end to grip the pipe. I have never had one slip. I have one clamp that the adjustable end uses angled steel plates to grip the pipe. That clamp is on black pipe. It does slip sometimes even on the black pipe. I also use pipe couplings tightened by hand when I need extra long clamps. I've made clamps over 12 feet in length and none of the sections are more than four feet long with no issues.

  14. #14
    Who is this "expert" on YouTube because anything other than black iron pipe is going to cost a whole lot more.
    Ridgid conduit is expensive.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Schierer View Post
    I use pipe clamps exclusively. Some have black pipe and some have galvanized pipe. All but one of my clamps utilize a toothed jaw on the adjustable end to grip the pipe. I have never had one slip. I have one clamp that the adjustable end uses angled steel plates to grip the pipe. That clamp is on black pipe. It does slip sometimes even on the black pipe. I also use pipe couplings tightened by hand when I need extra long clamps. I've made clamps over 12 feet in length and none of the sections are more than four feet long with no issues.
    I have made 20 footers when I was building hardwood decks.

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