|Review by davidroberts||posted 08-22-2012 03:46 AM||3567 views||1 time favorited||16 comments|
Over the years, like most of you, I have collected a variety of clamps, different brand, styles, sizes. Before wood consumed my thoughts, I didn’t know a bar clamp from a parallel clamp, much less they even existed. I credit Norm for my introduction. As a pup, ol’ Daddy taught me to weld so I know C-clamps. My bar clamp collection started and grew each year as Rockler and Woodcraft held their Black Friday sales. Various sizes of Jet and Rockler brand, light to medium duty bar clamps. Bought some Pony 3/4” pipe clamps but then started buying the Rockler’s when they came out with the nice feet that keeps the crank handle up and off the bench top. They would go on sale for cheap and Bob’s your uncle.
A few years ago, Irwin started their annual Quick Grip sale and I loaded up on 6”, 12” and a few 24” one handers. They live in racks I built on the sides and back of my bench. I bought some wood jaw clamps mostly out of curiosity, liked them and bought a few more. Probably a few more spring clamps than I need. Then Jet parallel clamps caught my attention, the best parallel made in my opinion, a bit spendy, but when on sale, and only when on sale, I can’t resist. And recently, in a moment of weakness I bought out the local Sears hardware store when their Craftsman parallel clamps went to clearance for $30 a pop, all sizes. I caught the salesman unloading the rack. I think Sears got out of the parallel clamp business. I didn’t know they were in it. Even bought a few clamps here and there off CL. All these clamps (save Jet parallel) serve a purpose but nothing to write home about, or spend time on a review.
Some of my smaller Quick Grips that I use to hold jigs and material along the edge of the bench are starting to weaken and slip, and my smaller Jet bar clamps seem to always be in use. A few months ago while strolling through HD, I noticed they carry a pretty good selection of Jorgensen bar and parallel clamps. Maybe because I have no attraction to orange, or I need another clamp like a hole in my head, I just never noticed. I stopped and pulled a 12” bar clamp off the rack and immediately noticed this thing in my hand is a well made, sturdy, hefty, solid, beefy, good looking bar clamp. It started to flirt with me, and I got the feeling I should take one home. The price was right, about $13, so heck, I bought two.
I laid them on my bench and saw how jealous the other clamps were. And rightfully so. I tried them out on some I-beams I use to keep work above the bench top, tried them on a router jig, on the table saw, bandsaw, jig glueups, to hold down a bench grinder, buffer, plate joiner jig, drill press, and other everyday clamping needs at the bench. Man, what a clamp.
The castings and ferrule seem massive compared to my now puny medium duty bar clamps. The swivel is a whopping 1-3/16 diameter and the plastic pads are thick and tough, and stay put. The swivel doesn’t slide around when pressure is applied. The arm slides with ease along the thick, smooth 1” x 5/16” plated bar, but it grips like an arm wrestler when the clutch is released. And the clutch doesn’t slip around or catch, is easy to engage when hidden from view, like under the bench, and has perfect tension. The reach is a roomy 3”, but seems like more. The 1/2” steel acme screw is silky smooth and cinches up quick and strong. No turning and turning small threaded screws. The handle is hardwood, probably ash or hickory maybe, and large, perfect to grip for my average hands. It feels so good. They are rated at 1,000 max pressure, and it doesn’t take much to get there it seems. No deflection in the bar, but really not expected along just 12”. The casting is powder coated and IS much more durable than my other clamps. I love orange. They wear it so well. They have never slipped on any application and whatever is held down stays down, no movement at all.
These 12” Jorgs have been my go-to clamps for several months now for all sorts of daily bench duty. I’ve bought a few because they work so well. I plan to start replacing my 24”-36” medium duty bar clamps with these heavy duty, bad boy Ponies. What a find. I had no idea the 3700 series Pony clamps were of such quality, build and finish. I’ll hazard a guess and say there may not be another bar clamp this well made on the market today. It may take me a while, but I WILL have a rack full of the sweet beauties one day.
If you got this far, thanks for your time.
-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.