Favorite clamps and where to buy, please.

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Tired of breaking cheap, big box clamps.
Looking for good clamps, both Bessey and Kreg types. Doesn't have to be those. Just have a guy who wants to sell me those.
I would appreciate recommendations on good, sturdy clamps and cheapest place to buy them new.
Thank you, Tom
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On 9/19/2014 11:25 AM, tomwalz wrote:

I for many years have owned Jorgensen "Cabinet Master" K-style clamps, Bessey Revo K-style clamps, and Jet K-style clamps.
They all have their good points and bad points.
Ultimately I prefer the Cabinet Master over either of the other two.
The Jets have cool features but cool does not always equate to useful. The Jets have measured markings on the bar. I never ever have used that feature. I can visually open the clamp to where it needs to be, I think it would take more time to use the measured bar. The Jets almost without fail mar the wood, I suppose they use a harder plastic. The Jets do have adjustable feet for supporting the clamp so that the movable end of the clamp dies not drag on the work surface when adjusting. Jet has a lock release lever, they would not need one if they worked as smoothly as the Cabinet Masters.
The Besseys don't like glue. Bessey takes great precautions with adding glue resistant spacers to place on the bars and on the clamping surfaces. Seems odd that they would not use a material that would be resistant to glue. The Bessey foot is either on the end of bar or off of the bar. It cannot be adjusted for a shorter work surface. IMHO they may as well have not included the foot. It would have been sooooo easy to make the foot 100% more user friendly. The Bessey rubber handle is a bit small and IMHO slipperier when wet with sweat. The Besseys are a little bit crotchety when you want to move the sliding end along the bar. This is mostly because of the protective cover mentioned above to thwart the glue.
The Cabinet Masters are not pretty but seem to work very well year after year. They don't mind glue drips and they have an adjustable foot. The handles are heavily varnished wood and are a bit larger in diameter than the Besseys. The handles simply feel better IMHO. They are the smoothest adjustable clamps of the three mentioned.
One last thing, the more you use the clamps the more likely you will drop one a time or two or three or four. I drop mine more often that I like to admit. The Besseys most often have a piece break and go flying. The Cabinet Masters only have dents and bruises. ;!) The Jets have not been dropped yet as I use them as a last resort and their time has not yet come to be dropped.
Hope this helps.
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Curious how you're breaking clamps...I can't say I've ever broken a clamp (other than to loose the foot on a C-clamp), so knowing what you're doing might help in suggesting what's "good and sturdy".
FWIW, 99% of my clamping is with either regular Jorgensen bar clamps, or Pony pipe clamps. Both are pretty much indestructable. I have a few of the Bessey K-body clamps, but rarely use them unless I'm trying to clamp something with an odd shape that a regular bar clamp can't handle. I don't care for K-body style clamps because I like to pre-set the clamp to the width needed, so clamping is just putting it on and turning a couple of twists - the head of the K-body clamp slides until it's under tension, so it moves when picking up the clamp, often as not sliding all the way to the end of the bar. When you're glueing up a large case and trying to get 16 clamps set and the whole thing square before the glue sets up, having the clamps pre-set helps :-)
The "Pittsburgh" brand of bar clamps (Harbor Freight's house brand) are almost as good as Jorgensen, and are often on sale for a pittance.
John
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On 9/19/2014 5:19 PM, John McCoy wrote:

I'm far from the expert level many of you woodworkers but I also agree with the HF clamps. I've been using many of them for many functions for many years applying great pressure and thus far they are still performing well. I too am also wondering what it is that the OP is doing to break them.
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On 9/19/2014 4:54 PM, Meanie wrote:

Martin
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I am using steel clumps while we construct our home and they still performing best and in good condition. Why not you contact with any trusted dealer in your area. Hope you get wide variety of clumps there.
'What your stock broker doesn?t want you to see' (http://easypcinvestor.com /)
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Ah. Can't say I've experienced that myself (and I've dropped clamps off the bench, storage rack, etc, many times) but I can see it happening, as cast iron is brittle.
John
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wrote:

I've broken a number of HF bar clamps. Enough that I can't trust them anymore, so I replaced them all. The HF clamps haven't been used in years. Their "quick clamps" (Irwin style) really suck - useless.
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I've never had any quick clamps from anyone and don't want them but I have maybe three dozen HF "F" bar clamps, have had them for years, never a problem. I would buy more.
Actually, I HAVE had a problem...get any yellow glue on them (acidic) and they rust but that is true of any steel clamp and a bit of steel wool or sandpaper fixes it.
I also have a dozen or so 12" German bar clamps, hate them...they aren't steel so don't rust but there is no clutch and if the fine grooves get a smidge of glue in them they are hard to slide. Digging out the glue fixes it, still prefer the HF ones.
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[...snip...]

I like Bessy F style clamps for general purpose clamping. For larger reach Shop Fox has a pretty good F clamp for much less than the equivalent Bessey. The plastic pads aren't in the same class, get knocked off easily, but they are OK. If you use cauls you can get rid of the pads.
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
If you make a set of gently curved convex cauls in various lengths you can get good clamping results with two clamps.
I note that in a recent Fine Woodworking article that Michael Fortune was doing some bent lamination (which needs a lot of clamps) and he was using a bunch of what looks to be the old style (wood handle) HF Pittsburg F clamps. I have a bunch of those and the new rubber grip ones and find them to be quite useful. The little rubber pads on them are not so useful. They are frequently on sale for 50% off an already low price. If they are good enough for Michael Fortune...
I have a few HP Pittburge clamps that are 24" and longer and regret getting those. They flex too much to provide the clamping pressure I'd like to get.
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On Sat, 20 Sep 2014 11:43:43 -0400, dadiOH wrote:

Same here. I stocked up when they were regularly on sale for half price. That's been quite a few years ago.

You too? I've been putting mine out at garage sales but have only managed to get rid of a few :-).
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On Sat, 20 Sep 2014 16:36:00 +0000 (UTC), Larry Blanchard

I bought the bunch about seven years ago. Every time I used them, one broke. They always break when the glue is wet and finding another isn't fun. I've never had a problem with Bessie Ks or the F-clamps I got from Peachtree (about the same price as the HFs, on sale).

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On 9/20/14, 11:36 AM, Larry Blanchard wrote:

I think they are hit or miss depending on the manufacturing lot. I have a pile of them on which the bars are all bent up because they couldn't handle moderate pressure.
I also have a pile of those aluminum sliding bar clamps from HF and a pile of broken clamp-bracket castings from them.
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On 9/20/2014 1:26 PM, -MIKE- wrote:

I have a set of those aluminum bar clamps, about 1999 vintage, they are great.
The HF F clamps have been great too, I have only had 1 bad one. The early ones were better. Some of the castings of the new one are too loose and not square when pressure is put on, but for the price they are good enough.
My vote is great deal for the price. I have bought far worse for big $$$$, even name brand.
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Jeff

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wrote:

Those are the ones I was talking about. The cast "heads" snap without much provocation.
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The Irwins vary in quality. The ones I got almost a decade ago work nicely, but the newer ones just don't work as nice. Releasing sometimes requires pushing really hard on the release lever. Generally, the smaller the clamp is the worse it works.
If you can get a good deal on them, though, it's worth picking a couple more.
Puckdropper
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Make it to fit, don't make it fit.

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On Sat, 20 Sep 2014 14:22:39 -0400, "Mike Marlow"

Irwins are very good, though I mostly use them for quick setup, replaced within a few minutes by K-style clamps until the glue dries. Not sure what you mean by "pony style", though.
Just so I'm being clear, these are the bar clamps that I'm talking about:
http://www.harborfreight.com/36-in-aluminum-bar-clamp-60539.html
The Irwin style "Quick" clamps are junk, as well. They don't break. There is no way to get enough pressure with them to snap a toothpick.
http://www.harborfreight.com/6-in-ratchet-bar-clampspreader-69045.html
I also have a bunch of these but haven't found them to be too useful (very light duty).
http://www.harborfreight.com/12-inch-bar-clamp-96214.html
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On Sat, 20 Sep 2014 15:06:06 -0400, "Mike Marlow"

Don't. ;-)

The ones I have slip with less pressure than would cause only moderate pain on a finger. The release levers on many jam, too.

I find they twist with only moderate pressure. They're OK for really light duty, though.
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On 09/20/2014 2:24 PM, snipped-for-privacy@attt.bizz wrote:

I've walked thru HF on occasion and agree w/ the other respondent that they're dependent on manufacturing batch -- some you could bend the bar just with moderate hand pressure, others have been adequately strong for reasonable glue jobs. But, none of them are up to a really heavy torque'ing on them, from the jenuine Jorgenson down.
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On 9/20/2014 3:24 PM, snipped-for-privacy@attt.bizz wrote:

The castings are good.

The HF quick have been very disappointing.

The older ones, do not twist, the newer ones do, but again, for the 2.99 for 6" I can't find fault. For 12 and 24, I only use them occaisionally, then I take out my Cabinet Masters or Bessey's. BTW stay away from the Woodcraft Bessey look alike.. pure junk that twists on tightening, and that was not a cheap mistake.

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Jeff

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