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HF 36" Aluminum Bar Clamps, moderately average

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Review by Jeison posted 1650 days ago 6565 views 1 time favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
HF 36" Aluminum Bar Clamps, moderately average HF 36" Aluminum Bar Clamps, moderately average No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I needed some larger clamps for an upcoming project, and saw these on sale, I got a bunch of the 36” clamps on sale (reg 11.99, but sale + coupon got em for $5.95 each). I think they’re Central Forge brand (like the HF one handed clamps). They have a 32” actual clamping capacity

I gave em a little bit of a workout clamping up some scraps to make a few boards, they put some solid pressure on without exploding, so thats always a plus lol!

My main concern is that after a few uses the pin that secures the sliding jaw in the indentations had gotten a bit chewed up, and it slightly dimpled the indentation itself, not enough to hamper its use, but over time the damage may build up until the clamp finally fails. Also there was a bit of play in the overall construction, it just felt a bit on the loose side to me. I also found the screw stuck a little bit in some of them, but a quick spritz of lubricant solved that.

Bottom line is they still seem to get the job done, and I don’t expect Bessey quality in a $6 clamp, so if they last me through another half a dozen projects I’ll be satisfied.

-- - Jei, Rockford IL - When in doubt, spray it with WD-40 and wrap it with duct tape. The details will attend to themselves.




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Jeison

947 posts in 1712 days



16 comments so far

View grub32's profile

grub32

209 posts in 1653 days


#1 posted 1650 days ago

I agree 100% with you…I have about 15 of them and they work great for what I paid for them. I have not had one break in three years. I use them to glue up panels and cutting boards. Not a lot of use but probably used em all at least 20 times. Got my money worth.

Grub

-- Science Teacher by Day, Wood Butcher by Night!!

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14621 posts in 2281 days


#2 posted 1650 days ago

If you screwed a little piece of hardwood or metal on the buggered up spot, they might just last forever:-))

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Luke's profile

Luke

537 posts in 1899 days


#3 posted 1649 days ago

I have quite a few of these probably 6-10. I’ve broken 2 of them already. The failure happens on the blue arm right by the screw. The piece that the actual thread goes through will break right underneath the threaded part if you give it too much pressure. I thought it might be a fluke on the first break but then the next one broke in the exact same spot. It looks like 80 grit sandpaper inside the metal and I’m sure it’s super crap. They were soooo cheap though and like you I couldn’t pass them up. If you have to put enough pressure on them to break them then your joint probably isn’t fitting correctly and we should fix that first I suppose. Also the arm that does the pushing on the threaded side tends to push the board up away from the clamp so I usually end up having to clamp the board down to the table or something. I wouldn’t complain if I hadn’t gone out and bought some bessey K bodies a while ago and WOW what a difference. Perfect clamp ups every time and sooooo easy to use. I’d give these blue suckers 3 stars too , not bad but not great. They do the job.

-- LAS, http://www.abettersign.com

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112002 posts in 2182 days


#4 posted 1649 days ago

Cheap but workable sounds good for a start. there 3/4 Pipe clamps are even less when there on sale and much stronger.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

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Jeison

947 posts in 1712 days


#5 posted 1649 days ago

I was actually going to pick up the pipe clamps (they were like 3.99 on sale IIRC tho they were out of stock anyways) but when you factor in the cost of the pipe the bar clamps were actually cheaper (for the size I needed anyways), tho I I’ll grab a few next time I go back if they have any in stock at that price.

-- - Jei, Rockford IL - When in doubt, spray it with WD-40 and wrap it with duct tape. The details will attend to themselves.

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4522 posts in 1679 days


#6 posted 1649 days ago

I bought 6 clamps like these a few years ago. 3 of the 6 have broken. The other 3 are my “last resort” clamps. I only use them when all the other clamps of a similar size are in use – which is rare. In addition to breaking, I find them awkward to use.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View gizmodyne's profile

gizmodyne

1763 posts in 2695 days


#7 posted 1649 days ago

I would rate these 1 star. Mine broke easily as described above. Pipe clamps would be a better investment.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke." www.flickr.com/photos/gizmodyne

View bobkberg's profile

bobkberg

350 posts in 1678 days


#8 posted 1649 days ago

Based on what I’ve read, I’m certainly not going to buy any of these. besides, I like my pipe clamps because I can add and subtract length as needed. One lesson I learned the hard way years ago – Buy the best tools you can afford.

-- Bob www.singularengineering.com - A sideline, not how I earn a living

View interpim's profile

interpim

1123 posts in 2063 days


#9 posted 1649 days ago

I had the casting on one of these snap the day I bought it… don’t put heavy pressure on it at all, or else you’ll end up with a broken clamp as well.

-- San Diego, CA

View RedShirt013's profile

RedShirt013

219 posts in 2266 days


#10 posted 1648 days ago

Alum Bar clamps and pipe clamps are two different products and I don’t see why one should abandon one over the other. I use my pipe clamps a lot for glueups, but aluminum clamps are so light they are awesome for assembling cabinets, where you need the length but don’t need the super clamping force and the weight. I got two and I use them just as much as my pony pipe clamps. Mine haven’t break yet, but I haven’t really over cranked them yet.

-- Ed

View GaryBuck's profile

GaryBuck

268 posts in 1831 days


#11 posted 1647 days ago

Red shirt,, I couldn’t put it better I posted a comment on these here a while back and boy did I get an ear full. I think everybody expects a dollar or 5 dollar bar clamp or squeeze clamp to produce the same as a $20 bar clamp or even more. Not everybody can afford to drop the big bucks on tools and for a chiepie I think they are great. I’ve had mine for years and never had one break yet, but then again I don’t use them on “HEAVY” clamping or expect them to do the work of a big vise. Use them for what they are made for as with all your tools and they will give you your monies worth over and over. I have no complaints, I got quite a few of them.

View BreakingBoardom's profile

BreakingBoardom

615 posts in 1686 days


#12 posted 1624 days ago

I have 4 of the 60” versions of these from HF but mine have plastic caps on the surface so as to not mar the wood you’re clamping. They are ok but in softer woods like pine, the will leave indentions in the wood. I had to use wood blocks to spread the pressure out and keep them from leaving indentions. But yeah, for the cheap price, 3 stars is about right. When I can afford some Bessey or Jet clamps, then I’ll be more critical.

-- Matt - http://breakingboardom.wordpress.com/

View momiji's profile

momiji

11 posts in 1567 days


#13 posted 1542 days ago

Well! It seems I wasn’t the only one having problems with these. None of mine broke but I can’t clamp anything seriously since the aluminum bar bends under pressure and the clamps push the wood up and away from it. Not only do I have to clamp both sides of the pannel I’m gluing but I also have to use short F-clamps to hold these in place!!!. I end up using twice as many as my bar clamps so there really was no savings…

-- Ah! The loving smell of heated Acer Saccharum...

View MattObjects's profile

MattObjects

24 posts in 982 days


#14 posted 968 days ago

I bought 6 of these because at the time, they were the only clamps of this type anywhere close to my price range. A handful of projects later, I have 1 semi-working clamp left. The castings on the other 5 broke through just below where the vise screw passes to tighten the clamp. On the bright side, I salvaged the aluminum bars from four of the busted clamps and used them for quite a while as the sides and slide of a router sled planing jig . . .

The manager at Harbor Freight told me the clamps actually have a lifetime warranty but that it won’t be honored unless you keep your receipt. So these wouldn’t be that bad a deal if you bought a dozen or so, kept the receipt some place safe, and just planned to return a few every time you went to HF . . .

View Dave's profile

Dave

11142 posts in 1445 days


#15 posted 909 days ago

Thanks for the review.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are." http://chiselandforge.com

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