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Great design, good execution, excellent buy if on sale

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Review by paxorion posted 12-06-2014 05:26 AM 3205 views 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Great design, good execution, excellent buy if on sale Great design, good execution, excellent buy if on sale Great design, good execution, excellent buy if on sale Click the pictures to enlarge them

These clamps were the first of my F-style clamp purchases to replace my HF F-style clamps. As of the review posting date, I have a set of 4 of these clamps. For full disclosure, my first choice would have been to get Bessey Tradesman with the 2K handle, but those things are rarely (if ever) on sale. I also have a set of 6 Bessey Tradesman in the 12” size so this review is a bit of a comparative review.

At the full retail price, it’s , it’s a no brainer I would go for the Tradesmans. However this Rockler-brand clamp seems to have been on a 50% off sale every other month, putting it at a fantastic price. In following my usual good/bad/ugly style for reviews, here are my thoughts. The good are all things that make me more than willing to recommend this product, the bad is all nit-picking, and the ugly are the reason I would consider docking stars.

Good: My first impression, was that the these clamps seem to be as hefty and solid as the Bessey Tradesman clamps. The bar uses a more traditional flat bar with grooves on it, and the malleable iron jaws seem solid. Of importance to note is that these clamps are made in Taiwan (ROC), not China (PRC), which has a better reputation for quality control. Clamping performance is excellent, and on par with the Tradesmans. I have zero reservations for these clamps serving as major upgrades to my HF clamps.

Bad: The plastic jaw covers seem to be very soft, as clamping up pine telegraphed marks not on the work, but into the jaws. I’m also not in love with the handle. It’s has a texture that I can best describe as spongy hard plastic, and while preferable (to me) over wooden handles, is far from being as comfortable as the Bessey 2K handle. The handle is bigger, so if you have a big hand, you may prefer the additional material to hold onto. The clamp threads are also finer than the Bessey’s, requiring more turns to enact the same movement of the clamp head. See the second picture for a comparison.

Ugly: The only area this clamp “falls short” and the reason I docked 1 star (and only 1 star) stems from the bar (See picture 3). My Bessey’s do not slip when clamping up work, and I suspect it is due to their patented 3-sided ribs on the bar, providing substantially better grab once you start clamping. The Rockler clamps use the more traditional ribs on the top and bottom of a flat-ish bar. For a clamp with a clutch it’s a non-issue. However for this clutch-less clamp design, the result is a clamp head is easier to move and easier to slip. Whenever it has slipped, I find that the clamps grab after 3-4 rotations of the handle.

Summary: At the sale price, I’m hard-pressed to believe that you can go wrong with these clamps. At half the price of the Bessey’s or Jorgensen HDs, you get effectively the same performance, albeit with a difference in the user experience. For me, at the time of this review, I am in market for 6×12” F-style clamps to complete my “baseline” collection of F-style clamps (16×6” and 16×12”). I currently have 6x Bessey Tradesmans and want 2 more. The OCD (and price conscious) side of me is strongly leaning towards getting 4 more Rockler 12” clamps, so that there are equal numbers of both brands (while saving a few bucks).

UPDATE: After seeing the clamps come up on sale, I pulled the trigger and ordered another 4. I now have a total of 8 of these clamps.

-- paxorion




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paxorion

1107 posts in 2130 days



6 comments so far

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jtm

230 posts in 1721 days


#1 posted 12-06-2014 06:24 AM

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ajw1978

165 posts in 1506 days


#2 posted 12-06-2014 08:07 AM

I saw these at Rockler the Friday after Thanksgiving, but I had just bought a half-dozen at HF the weekend before.

-- May the good Lord help me if I ever actually have a shop, garage or basement.

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Patrick

41 posts in 1427 days


#3 posted 12-06-2014 10:31 PM

I just got 5 of these and glued up some laminations today. I’m very impressed with them and would recommend them without reservation.

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paxorion

1107 posts in 2130 days


#4 posted 12-07-2014 01:46 AM



You can get a set with two Bessey 12 s and two Bessey 6 s for under $20 at Home Depot.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/BESSEY-Clutch-Clamp-Set-4-Piece-GSCC4PK/205086977?cm_mmc=CJ-_-4485850-_-10368321&N=5yc1vZc266Zdep&AID=10368321&PID=4485850&SID=e0702afaef0e4bbfb96517dbdd775439&cj=true

- jtm

Right, those are the clutch style with the wooden handle. A great deal no doubt, but not as close a comparison as the Bessey Tradesman clamps with the 2K composite handle that I see as more of the parallel for these clamps.


I just got 5 of these and glued up some laminations today. I m very impressed with them and would recommend them without reservation.

- patrickhosey

No doubt that these are good clamps at the sale price. If past trends are to be counted on, they are a regular sale proposition. I should also note that at the moment, Rockler doesn’t carry any of the 12” Bessey Tradesman with 2K handles on their online, likely because these are such a close competitor.

-- paxorion

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brtech

1036 posts in 3007 days


#5 posted 12-08-2014 02:20 PM

In 12”, I’ve been pretty happy with the HF clamp. You think these are an upgrade from those. The HF is clutch style, but that doesn’t seem to be much of an issue (a bit more work to change positions). What else makes these better than the HF?

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paxorion

1107 posts in 2130 days


#6 posted 12-08-2014 02:45 PM


In 12”, I ve been pretty happy with the HF clamp. You think these are an upgrade from those. The HF is clutch style, but that doesn t seem to be much of an issue (a bit more work to change positions). What else makes these better than the HF?

- brtech

I wrote a review about HF F-style clamps and noted my reservations with recommending them. They’re very good for starting a collection, but their weak points (in comparison) are:
  1. The HF F-style clamp bar is smaller and softer than the Rockler clamp. Over 2 years of use and there is deflection on the clamp jaws in respect to the bar. In a few cases, this has resulted in the clamp slipping off and edge glue-up.
  2. The HF plastic jaw covers don’t leave a greasy/oily mark on the workpiece, whereas the Rockler ones don’t, regardless of the pressure applied. Not a deal breaker but certainly a nuisance, and if you were to add some padding, you will lose some clamping capacity.
  3. The handle on the Rockler clamp is bigger, and its easier to get a grip on it to turn. I’m not talking really cranking the clamp down, but just simply applying just enough pressure to close.

There is a style difference, going from clutch to clutch-less. Some people may prefer the clutch. If that is the case, I recommend you look at the Jorgensens or regular Bessey clamps (they do come with the 2K handle too). I don’t necessarily, and find clutchless to be easier to use.

Is it worth the extra money? Considering you can get 2 HF F-style clamps for each Rockler clamp (on sale), the value proposition varies depending on who you ask. I still have a lot of HF F-style clamps, and I think it was the right call to get a large number of them to jump start my collection. With a total of 10 Bessey/Rockler 12” clutchless clamps and 6x HF 12” F-style clamps, I am currently at my magic number of 16×12” F-style clamps, but over time the HF clamps will be replaced with what I consider upgrades.

-- paxorion

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