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Clamps! Finley adding some quality to my collection

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Blog entry by Dan posted 10-15-2010 09:18 PM 1876 reads 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

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"



14 comments so far

View SCOTSMAN's profile

SCOTSMAN

5839 posts in 3050 days


#1 posted 10-15-2010 09:27 PM

I am afraid, that just like I did you, need to stop thinking that the money spent on a set of good clamps could buy you this machine or that machine.You just need to be brave .We have all been there and spend the money you will not regret it in the long run.I have some seriously good clamps but I started of spending a few hundred dollars for about six clamps,then added everytime a good sale came on or I had a birthday.They say you can never have enough clamps that’s not true you will eventually level out on a number which gets you through any challenge.
In fact I think maybe I overdid things over the years and bought too many .Have fun and remember don’t buy cheap clamps they are not worth it in any way shape or form .Get into the mode of thinking you deserve good ones ,not neccessarily the most expensive ,just good well made ones which don’t warp whan you go to use them .Have fun and do things slowly hopefully you will have many years to enjoy your hobby.Kindest regards Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View dbhost's profile

dbhost

5607 posts in 2697 days


#2 posted 10-15-2010 09:32 PM

Those K body clamps are really nice for sure.

I must say though, there hasn’t been a project yet that my HF bar clamps hasn’t been able to handle. It would however be very nice to own a bunch of K body clamps. I’m just not that rich…

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

View Dan's profile

Dan

3630 posts in 2345 days


#3 posted 10-15-2010 10:02 PM

dbhost- That is exactly how I felt. I am far from rich, I had just got some extra money and decided to spend it on the clamps. Clamps were probably the only tool that I have neglected to invest in. I also have always made my Harbor Freight clamps work. Its not that they don’t work, its just they take some messing around with and can be tricky to clamp square and straight. I will still be using the HF clamps and I am sure I will buy more from HF. Its just nice to have at least a couple quality clamps for now.

The same thing happened with my table saw. I was first using a larger bench model saw and it handled every cut that I needed it to. However once I upgraded to a larger contractor saw I realized the difference and benefit.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

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dbhost

5607 posts in 2697 days


#4 posted 10-15-2010 10:09 PM

LOL… I am planning on completely bypassing the contractor saw… I love my BT3100, but if I won the lotto sort of thing, i would be getting rid of it, and moving in a Sawstop PCS with a sliding miter table (The Ryobi got me VERY used to those…), the wide rail fence, and a Bench Dog router wing… Sort of taking the features of the BT that I love, and making them high end… Oh yeah, and moving my Shark Guard over to the thing… I love that SG…

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

View Dennisgrosen's profile

Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 2580 days


#5 posted 10-15-2010 10:11 PM

Dan why don´t you make a project out of getting new clamps …lol
serius why don´t you make them in wood
I think there is more than 15 diffenrent types and ways of making them right here on L J
I know many says they can´t come up with 400 pounds pressure
but realy how many times do you need that … zero… it wuold just sqeeze the glue out of the joint
if try to joint two boards together for making panels

take care
Dennis

View Dan's profile

Dan

3630 posts in 2345 days


#6 posted 10-15-2010 10:22 PM

Dennis, I have seen some plans for making your own clamps but wont I need some good clamps in order to clamp the clamps that I make? :)

I might tackle that project someday. I would like to make some of my own hand screw clamps. I use my hand screw clamps a lot and would be nice to have some more and diff sizes.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View NBeener's profile

NBeener

4808 posts in 2639 days


#7 posted 10-15-2010 10:25 PM

Yeah. The difference between the Bessey, Jet, Jorgensen, or a few other clamps, and … everything else … seems huge.

I bought 4 Besseys and 4 Jets. It’s really hard to use anything else, now. They just seem to do everything better, AND have that “feel of a fine tool” about them.

And like most of these things … treat ‘em right, and you’ll be leaving them to that cute baby in your picture, in your will ;-)

-- -- Neil

View Dan's profile

Dan

3630 posts in 2345 days


#8 posted 10-15-2010 10:33 PM

Neil -Funny you bring up the baby.. He is actually my youngest of 3 boys. He is just over a year now and he will be out in the shop with me sometimes and he ALWAYS goes right for my clamps. I had been keeping my small C-Clamps and spring clamps on a peg board attached to side of my bench. They were perfect height for him to grab. He would take them all off and leave on the floor for me. I actually just moved them to higher ground to help baby proof my shop. My older two boys 6 and 4 also like clamps, I found them one day each with one of my one hand squeeze clamps and they were using them as toy guns.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View crank49's profile

crank49

3981 posts in 2436 days


#9 posted 10-15-2010 10:37 PM

I thought I might need about $100 worth of clamps when I got serious about setting up a shop. That was about $700 ago. I have about 60 clamps of “C”, “F”, “speed”, and pipe styles from HD and Lowes and HF. I have done ok with the pipe clamps, but I never realized how much time and frustration all those “F” clamps were costing me till I accidentally wound up with a true cabinet clamp. I was in HD one day buying another pair of 36” Jorgensen HD “F” clamps. They only had 1 in stock.. The tool manager let me have a 36” Jorgensen Cabinet Master for the price of the “F” clamp. That was, at that time, a $39 clamp for $17. I took him up on the offer. Damn that guy, now I’m hooked and have to have more.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

View Dennisgrosen's profile

Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 2580 days


#10 posted 10-15-2010 10:38 PM

LOL not from what I have seen
you cuold always start out with some handscrew clamps or the more adwanced jørgensen handscrew :-)

here is a few links from another site
http://www.wkfinetools.com/contrib/bSmalser/art/hScrewClamp/hScrewClamp-01.asp

and this isn about cauls
http://www.wkfinetools.com/contrib/hendersonM/makingCauls/makingCauls-1.asp

and I know that the wooden F-clamps is cheap and has been copy here on the side
so no excuse just hit the project clamp road….....LOL

Dennis

View SCOTSMAN's profile

SCOTSMAN

5839 posts in 3050 days


#11 posted 10-15-2010 10:42 PM

Sorry I should have added lovely baby.LIke you I have three boys the youngest is 24 and the oldest is 34 so you have a way to go before catching up on OLD Al.LOL Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View NBeener's profile

NBeener

4808 posts in 2639 days


#12 posted 10-15-2010 10:52 PM

I’m the baby of three boys, too.

And … we DID have rather open access to my dad’s shop, when we were little.

I’m REALLY surprised all three of us are still here ;-)

-- -- Neil

View toolferone's profile

toolferone

55 posts in 2290 days


#13 posted 10-16-2010 03:03 AM

You all know of course that the woodworking motto is that there is no such thing as too many clamps.

Back about 5 or 6 years ago both Bessy and Jorgenson ran some pretty outragous clamp sales through Woodcraft. I missed out on the Bessies but pick up a lot of the Joprgy’s. I also hit a few Borgs a few years back when they where clearing them out. Right place right time I guess. I have since given away all but a couple of my bar clamps ( I kept a few 6’ ones I had). Like stated above they will be part of my will.

-- Tom, http://www.dreamshopwoodworks.com

View CoolDavion's profile

CoolDavion

426 posts in 3289 days


#14 posted 10-16-2010 06:13 PM

At the flea market or garage sales I always keep an eye out for clamps.
I’ve bought 3 so far, two bar clams and 1 pipe clamp, averaged out I think I’ve paid about $1 a foot.

-- Do or do not, there is no try!

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