|Review by HungryTermite||posted 01-20-2010 07:20 AM||3818 views||0 times favorited||22 comments|
I was at the local Harbor Freight over the holidays and I noticed a bin full of 18” Ratcheting Bar clamps on sale for $2.99 each. The seemed to work well in the store and all were covered with a little bit of oil, presumably to protect the metallic parts. I didn’t really have a need for new clamps and I wasn’t sure if an 18” clamp would be useful or not but I figured I really couldn’t go wrong for only $2.99 (regularly $7.99 I think) so I bought 6 of them.
This was the first time I have bought a ratcheting bar clamp and the main reason I have stayed away from them is the cost. I usually see this size in stores for close to $20, and while I am sure they are worth the money, I usually buy cheaper and less convenient clamps, like the regular bar clamps from Harbor Freight.
Anyway, as it turns out, I have been making a lot of jigs and other items for my new table saw since I purchased these clamps and they really hit the spot for quick and easy one handed clamping. They hold really well!
There were some problems though. I really am not crazy about the faces of the clamp. They are not attached to the clamp so they sometimes fall off. Some carpet tape should fix that problem.
Also, I guess I used one clamp over and over and as I used it I noticed that the trigger felt squishier and squishier as I used it. Finally, the other day the handle snapped off while trying to clamp something to a table. Granted, I am pretty sure I was using excessive hand pressiue to close the clamp. What had happened was the plastic hinge pin that holds the trigger in place snapped under the load.
So why did I still give it 4 stars even though it broke after a week? Easy… the price. I opened up the clamp and the inside is filled with good looking metallic parts and the body is fairly decent thick plastic. Since the drive over to Harbor Freight to replace it would probably cost me $3 in gas and leave me with a clamp with the same potential failure mode, I went over to Home Depot to pick up a clevis pin and a cotter pin for under $2 and should be able to easily fix the broken clamp. This will make the clamp pretty rock solid for a total cost of $4.99. If any of the others break in the future the fix is pretty easy. I intend to create a blog post about the fix along with some pictures of the inside of the clamp.
So if you are looking for some inexpensive clamps and don’t mind having to fix one once in a while, try checking out Harbor Freight to see if they are on sale.
-- Good Judgement Comes From Experience. Experience Comes From Bad Judgement.