HF 6" ratchet clamp... why do I do this to myself?!?

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Review by harvey4804 posted 06-26-2012 06:33 AM 3399 views 0 times favorited 35 comments Add to Favorites Watch
HF 6" ratchet clamp... why do I do this to myself?!? No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

So I picked up 2 Harbor Freight 6” ratchet clamps a while back and they worked just fine… for 1.99 clamps. The holding pressure wasn’t a whole lot but for little jobs it was fine. The alignment/parallelism of the actual clamp pads are off by several degrees no matter how much you clamp it down. But again… 1.99 clamps. This past weekend I was using it to help me assemble a decorative fence around my wife’s garden. After a short period in the sun the plastic got so soft that when I went to clamp a board, the handle literally fell apart in my hand. Will I buy this again? Probably, considering they’re so cheap. But Im definitely gonna start buying “real” clamps, preferably one made here in the good ol USA!

-- Ryan, FRMR HMM165 - HMX1 01-10

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114 posts in 1725 days

35 comments so far

View lj61673's profile


250 posts in 1442 days

#1 posted 06-26-2012 10:50 AM

Garbage. Period.
The real question is, three stars??

View IrreverentJack's profile


724 posts in 1886 days

#2 posted 06-26-2012 11:59 AM

Most of these break right away. Some will last long enough that you begin to trust them. When those break, and IF YOU USE THEM THEY WILL BREAK, that pretty orange plastic and pot metal will make you bleed. Three stars is too high of a rating. -Jack

View lumberjoe's profile


2883 posts in 1291 days

#3 posted 06-26-2012 12:33 PM

Worst clamp ever made. My local HF store stopped carrying them all together.

-- Unplugged Woodworkers -

View rance's profile


4196 posts in 2203 days

#4 posted 06-26-2012 12:54 PM

Yep, worst clamp ever made. I wouldn’t call it a ratchet clamp though. These are ‘quick clamps’, or is it ‘quick junk’?

They do have a decent F-clamp with a rubber grip. Cheap, but good.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View dbhost's profile


5386 posts in 2275 days

#5 posted 06-26-2012 01:15 PM

I got stupid and bought a half dozen of these because, hey they were $1.99, but then again, I know better than to leave a clamp like this in the hot Texas sun. The pivot on mine haven’t failed yet, but I refuse to put all that much pressure into them… And I expect failure from them eventually. I already have the article bookmarked on how to fix them permanently…

-- My workshop blog can be found at

View b2rtch's profile


4635 posts in 2091 days

#6 posted 06-26-2012 02:07 PM

This is the only tool I bought at HF which qualify for real crap.

-- Bert

View Dusty56's profile


11777 posts in 2731 days

#7 posted 06-26-2012 02:49 PM

We just went through this last month …the whole world should know by now NOT to buy these things !

3 stars is unbelievably too high…think about it ..5 stars means perfection , couldn’t ask for anything better !

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View b2rtch's profile


4635 posts in 2091 days

#8 posted 06-26-2012 02:52 PM

may he means minus 3 stars

-- Bert

View lumberjoe's profile


2883 posts in 1291 days

#9 posted 06-26-2012 03:26 PM

Dusty, I agree. This should be negative stars. In fact you would have better luck trying to clamp your pieces by taping the two 1$ bills these clamps cost to your work piece instead of spending it on these clamps.

-- Unplugged Woodworkers -

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

5318 posts in 1371 days

#10 posted 06-26-2012 05:09 PM

hang on….

I need to get a re-fill and pop some popcorn… because you’ve just ignited the Harbor Freight bomb and are going to get 188 replies argueing something that has little to nothing to do with the clamps you reviewed. :^O

That said…. you can pick up the light duty Irwin Quick clamps in a nice little pack of four, with some small hand spring clamps for short money when HD has them on sale.

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

View TheOldTimer's profile


226 posts in 2129 days

#11 posted 06-26-2012 05:23 PM

I have used these clamps in the shop for very small jobs and to secure jigs to the tablesaw only. When I do use them, it is only to secure material for final clamping with good clamps. Would I buy them again? Defintely not. They will be replaced with Erwin or something more substancial. I only have 4 and when they are gone, they are gone forever.

-- TheOldTimer,Chandler Arizona

View Dan's profile


3629 posts in 1923 days

#12 posted 06-26-2012 06:40 PM

I agree with everyone else.. These clamps are pure crap… I have a lot of the HF bar clamps and those work just fine and I have had few problems with them but the ratchet clamps I bought all broke. I think I had 3 and they didn’t even last me long enough to use on small jobs.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View crank49's profile


3879 posts in 2014 days

#13 posted 06-26-2012 07:02 PM

I have a few of these for light use. When one broke I opened it up and discovered if you put a machine screw through the handle for a trigger pivot point it works pretty good. I have since “fixed 3 more”.
Still, not much clamp though.

Most of my clamps are Jorgensen, Made in USA. And they are great.

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

View jumbojack's profile


1444 posts in 1667 days

#14 posted 06-26-2012 11:18 PM

I have two, one has the bolt ‘fix’ The other clamps my tape dispenser to the bench.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View Bertha's profile


12981 posts in 1736 days

#15 posted 06-26-2012 11:23 PM

Lol at the comments:) To be completely fair, I’ve had some Besseys explode on me before. I’ve got no beef with HF but there ain’t a whole lot of mystery there;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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