Bar clamps - is MLCS any good? Other recommendations?


I am looking to buy a 4ft bar clamp for cutting sheets of plywood.
Anybody have any experience with the MLCS Boomer Red Bar Clamp? - Is $36.95 a good price? - Does it pay to buy the back-to-back model for $60 which is essentially two back-to-back bar clamps, allowing you to clamp the piece to the table?
Any other recommendations on reasonably priced quality bar clamps?
Thanks
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Speaking of clamps, what is the difference between "good" clamps and cheap clamps? I have been using bar and c-clamps that I picked up at Big Lots for about $5-$10 each (a lot of different sizes) and they have worked fine for me.
Having never really used high qaulity clamps, what is a clamp that costs 5x as much going to do for me?
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Locutus wrote:

I don't know what it would do for you, but I think it depends on what you are clamping. Like most here, I probably have about 80 - 100 clamps. Some of them I use a lot, some not much at all.
I have some cheapo clamps, and they are good for some things. But what I noticed about my cheapies compared to my pipe clamps, Besseys or Irwin bar clamps is the flex. When I really clamp down on something with cheap bar, squeeze or C clamps, there is a lot of torsion rotation in the clamp body.
This rotation as the body of the clamp flexes makes it a lot harder to clamp. If you are doing a large glue up, the torsion created by the body flex of the clamps will make it hard to keep the clamps in place, and worse can make it move after you have carefully glued, placed and clamped the pieces exactly where you want them.
I use the cheapies as needed, but if I am glueing up anything large that I really need to be exactly right I use the good clamps.
Robert
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It will be more likely to come back in one piece if you drop it on a concrete floor.
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On Fri, 15 Sep 2006 11:34:36 -0400, "Locutus"

I had the opposite experience. I made the mistake buying a couple clamps Made in China. The cap fell off, the jaws are not parallel, binding, etc. No more! Now I look for USA, Canada, Germany. I guess it depends on what you are clamping.
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blueman wrote:

I bought a pair - don't recall the brand - several years ago, used them once, never used again...too much lateral flex.
Now I use a piece of 1/4" x 3" aluminum or a piece of plywood. Neither flex.
--

dadiOH
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blueman wrote:

1) Jorgensen
2) Bessey
I know, I know. Not so cheap. But the difference is that if you use a tool a lot, the higher-quality tool pays for itself in ease of use, longevity, and pleasure in ownership. I have a pile of little cheapo clamps that I still use, and I bitch about them every time. I always go through my Jorgensens first, then reach for the cheepies when I run out of high quality clamps.
A while back I bought some Bessey K-Clamps. Very nice. I also have some Jorgensen Cabinet Master clamps. Also very nice.
Also: Jorgensen made in USA. Once your job is outsourced, how are you going to buy any clamps, let alone high quality clamps?
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You get a sales, distribution, or marketing job for the company the imports the clamps.
And those jobs will probably pay more ;)
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MLCS is a great company with good prices. I have bought lots of good quality cutters for way less than anywhere else. But when it comes to clamps, I would go cheap..... Like a local Harbor Freight..... But that's just me. I would rather put my $$ into good tools.
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buck wrote:

I've bought a few Penn State Industries clamps and haven't had great results. The jaw of one of their quick-grip style clamps broke, and the (plastic) handle on one of their heavy-duty deep-reach bar clamps broke. The handscrews have been great though. Just be sure to wax them before you use them.
JP
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I buy my bar clamps at Harbor Freight when they are on sale. (Can we say cheapscape?) While they are not as nice as the ones I used in a Woodcraft class (Bessler, I think), they work as well and I have had no problems with them.
Jess.S
buck wrote:

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I've been using pipe clamps for a long time, until last year when I took advantage of Bessey's clamp sale and bought a set from Lee Valley Tools. What a spectacular difference! The only thing the Bessey's can't do compared to the pipe clamps is apply sheer clamping force, but that little used advantage is nothing compared to what the Bessey's can do.
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Just my luck!!!!
The latest Fine Homebuilding (November 2006 = #182) that arrived yesterday had an article on the Edge Guides for guiding a table saw or router.
Exactly what I wanted. They (as always) gave the $500+ Festool the Best Overall though it is really a system that also includes the table saw.
Best value went to the $110 Red-Line Cutting Guide that includes two 55inch lengths that can be screwed together rigidly to give a single 110 inch guide.
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