I am still newer to woodworking and a while back when I was starting to look at other shops online and in magazines I noticed that most shops had a huge collection of clamps. At that time I couldn’t help but wonder why they needed so many clamps. I guess I was just surprised to see so many in one shop. So as I was setting up my shop and quickly filling it with tools I thought I should grab a bunch of clamps. After a trip down the clamp isle I was shocked to see how expensive they were. With prices of 20 dollars or more there was no way I could afford a big collection of clamps. At least not at that time. I spent some time working with only a couple small bar clamps and a couple pipe clamps. I quickly realized why I saw so many clamps in other shops.
At some point I discovered the local Harbor Freight store in town and was happy to find they sold a large variety of clamps for much much cheaper then I had seen anywhere else. I realized that the quality of the clamps were probably far less then the others but I was able to walk out with a dozen or so clamps for what it would have cost me to get one or two top quality clamps. These clamps have served me well enough and have worked decent enough. However I still wanted some top quality clamps. Well I just so happened to have some extra money this week so I went out and bought two Bessey K style bar clamps. I spent about 80 dollars for two clamps. I have to admit it was hard to build up the courage to go through with buying them. I knew they were superior to my other clamps and I knew I would be happy with them but I couldn’t help but think that maybe I could just pass on it and keep making my cheap clamps “work”. I also want to add that I didn’t want to buy the middle grade quality clamps, I figured if I am going to spend some real money on clamps I might as well get the best they had. Also my wife was with me when I got them and the look on her face when she learned I was spending close to 100 dollars for two clamps was priceless. I tried explaining how they worked and how they differed from my cheap ones and she just didn’t get it.
So I got them home and have used them a couple times so far and I am very happy with my purchase. I had skipped out on getting some quality clamps for a while and I can tell these are going to worth their price. I hope this helps with some of the fuss I have had with clamping. I only have two but plan on getting more like these down the road.
-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"