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    A Complete Guide to Spring Clips

    Read our spring clips guide to learn their uses, the different types, and what materials they are made from.

    What is a Spring Clip?

    Let’s start with the most basic question - what is a spring clip? These distinctive machined clips are used to hold cylindrical objects such as tools in place via spring tension. They can also be used to connect and attach moving parts in engines and other mechanical equipment.

    Spring clips typically have a distinctive hooked U-shape, with an extended base attached via a screw. They are most commonly made from sheet metal or plastic. The spring clip fasteners allow the cylindrical objects to be quickly snapped into place or pulled out. The strength of the grip varies according to the material used and the thickness of the gripping arms, but all provide a sturdy connection that will withstand gravity, pressure and vibration.

    They are also known as terry clips and tool clips and are often available in bulk packs or kits for convenience.

    What are Spring Clips Used for?

    Spring Clip

    Spring clips are attachments designed to meet a specific need. They were initially created to hold tyre pumps on bicycle frames, so cyclists could fix punctures when out and about. However, their simplicity was their strength and these versatile accessories now have multiple uses from engineering to DIY, including:

    • Holding tools with circular handles - e.g. hammersscrewdriversspanners and pliers - on tool storage boards
    • Holding mobile phones and tablets upright for quick and easy access
    • Fastening phones, pagers and similar devices to clothing
    • Holding wiring and cables in place within electrical systems
    • Dampening vibration in automotive machinery by connecting moving parts
    • Securing pipes, tubing and brackets to walls, floors or radiators
    • The clips are used in vehicle engine bays, farms, and building sites
    • To clamp together manufacturing components - for example, refrigerator door liners or seals
    • For picture framing - clamping frames to their backboards
    • As hangers for protective window screens
    • For attaching roller chain links. Roller chains are the rotating drive chains used to transmit mechanical power in many types of equipment, including bicycles
    • Attaching strainers or baskets to kitchen sinks to catch food debris

    Terry tool clips are routinely used in several industries, including:

    • Construction
    • Clothing and textile manufacture
    • Electrical engineering
    • Agriculture
    • Telecommunications

    Types of Spring Clips

    Fasteners and fixings such as spring or terry clips are available in multiple shapes, specifications, sizes and diameters (typically measured in mm) suitable for different uses. Here are some of the main varieties:

    Flat Spring Clips

    Flat terry clips lack the distinctive U-shape of regular clips and are used to secure thin components, card and paper.

    Small Metal Spring Clips

    Uses for small metal terry clips include attaching cards to lanyards, and badge reel attachments for securing ID cards and security passes to clothing.

    Wire Spring Clips

    Wire terry clips have many uses, including distributing pressure along hosing and clamping the glass panes of greenhouses.

    Circular Spring Clips

    Circular type clips have a fully round design and are often used as hooks - for example, in keyrings.

    Round Metal Spring Clips

    These clips feature one of the most familiar designs. They are the inverted T-shapes found on clipboards that are used to clasp paper in place.

    U-Shaped Metal Spring Clips

    U-shaped terry clips are primarily used for the assembly of furniture springs and specialist components such as glass panels and flanges. The latter connect pipes and valves.

    Spring Button Clips

    Spring button clips are used to arrest the two-part sliding tube components used for some engineering tasks. They feature a button in the inner tube which clicks into a hole in the outer tube, locking the tube into place.

    Command Spring Clips

    These are small and light but provide strong adhesion. They are ideal for hanging notices, pictures, bags, jackets, keys, clocks, clipboards and similar items to walls.

    Heavy-Duty Terry Clips

    Uses for heavy-duty terry clips include securely attaching heavy items such as hammers, chisels and rakes to walls and boards. They are primarily used for their durability.

    What are Spring Clips Made of?

    These fixings are made from two principal materials, with differing grip strengths:

    Spring Clip

    Stainless Steel

    This is the most widely used metal in the manufacture of terry clips in the UK and elsewhere. Steel offers a strong grip, is durable, and resists temperature change.

    Spring steel clips often feature protective coatings or finishes made from vinyl and neoprene (synthetic rubber) to minimise abrasion and chafing damage to the inserted items. A nylon coating will provide good scratch protection. Those plated with zinc have greater visual appeal and are more resistant to the long-term embrittlement of steel by hydrogen. The application of zinc via electrical current is called bright zinc plating.

    Thicker jaws may be included for greater gripping strength.

    Shop Steel Spring Clips


    Plastic terry clips are widely used because they are inexpensive and easy to manufacture. Plastic does not offer the grip strength of steel and other metals, but because plastic is an excellent insulator, they are ideal fasteners for electrical equipment and cables. Tool clips are often coated with polythene or similar plastics for the same reason.

    Smaller plastic spring clips feature a dart shape, expandable base or even adhesive or sealant for attachment purposes. Mounting panels typically feature space to accommodate these during the installation and fitting process. Plastic clips may also be coated in various colours - black plastic is a popular option.

    Less common materials include:

    • Cold-rolled and carbon steel - for heavy-duty clamping tasks

    • Aluminium - for lighter tasks

    • Brass

    • Bronze

    • Zinc-plated carbon steel

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