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.
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.
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.
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.
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'
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
I have a set of those aluminum bar clamps, about 1999 vintage, they are
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
My vote is great deal for the price. I have bought far worse for big
$$$$, even name brand.
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
On 09/20/2014 2:24 PM, email@example.com 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.
On 9/20/2014 3:24 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org 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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