|Review by paxorion||posted 12-15-2013 04:31 AM||4714 views||0 times favorited||9 comments|
After I fitting my power tool collection with both a circular saw and router, I wanted to add a few easy to clamp edge guides to my tool collection. After playing with a variety of different edge guides in the market (Bora, Emerson, Woodriver), I settled on the Bora as the one that felt the best, given the long handle. All reviews about clamp edge tools I read highlighted the aluminum bar’s had a tendency to flex midway through a cut operation, making me think the wide track model was the better bet. However the price of the tool guide made me think “Wow, at that price, I might as well save up for a track saw”.
So enter Harbor Freight to the rescue with imitation products. After messing around with the different coupons, I picked up a 24” for $7 and a 50” for $15. As with most HF products, finding the right clamps to buy felt more like I was picking for the cream of the crap. I’ll divide up the rest of my review into 3 sections:HF Shopping Experience: With 3 HF stores within close proximity of me, I was shocked at how painful the search for viable Clamp Edges were. Here is a synopsis of the problems I found
- I must have picked through at least 100 total and found at most 10 acceptable ones. Something about the mechanics of the clamp or the molds for the plastic components lead to a lot of variation between the offerings
- For some reason, I had better luck finding acceptable ones in the 50” range, than the 24” range.
- I felt like there is a lot more plastic (or lower grade) components in the HF clamp, accounting for the price difference
- It is significantly easier to position the clamp head on the Bora, due to a different design on the position-able clamp head, and possibly better machining for the clamp mechanism
- There is a night and day with the cam lever. The Bora glides down smoothly and locks firmly, whereas I suspect my HF cam level (being all plastic) will quickly wear down and need replacing.
- Deflection is inevitable on longer cuts. Plan accordingly and you’ll avoid the worst of it. I’ve succeeded in making cuts up to 36” long
- I overcame the risk of snapping the cheap cam lever by loosely positioning the position-able clamp head, so that less stress would be placed on the cam lever when locking down
- At the “hefty” cost of $22 + tax, I’d say it’s pretty good bang for the buck
When the rubber hits the road, I think the the HF clamp will meet my needs for the time being. It is inexpensive and workable, if you are willing to accept the quality degradation when compared to the Bora it mimics. Would a shop-made straight-edge jig work better? I have no doubt that it would, and I am planning on making them someday when I have scraps to commit to the task.