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Forum topic by dalec posted 10-24-2007 07:04 AM 7247 views 1 time favorited 53 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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dalec

613 posts in 2613 days


10-24-2007 07:04 AM

Hi,

I will be starting my first project in a couple of weeks. I decided to start with a fairly straight forward cutting board project. So I will be needing clamps for my glue up.

I stopped by Habor Freight last week and see that they carry a fair range of clamps. As long as the clamps look straight and appear rigid, are they as good as the name brands at the woodworking stores?

Has anyone had experience with their F clamps or for that matter any of their clamps?

Dalec


53 replies so far

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12300 posts in 2821 days


#1 posted 10-24-2007 07:10 AM

For a cutting board, I would look at pipe clamps… I do not have any HF clamps. Flea markets are good places to find used Pony brand pipe clamps, if your looking to shave a few dollars off the purchase.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 2599 days


#2 posted 10-24-2007 03:05 PM

I think all F clamps are going to bow when you tighten them down, although the “heavy duty” style will bow less. You can compensate by putting half of the clamps over the glue-up and half under. I have never owned HF F-clamps, but have had some inexpensive brands and the adjustable head had a tendancy to slip when the clamp was tightened. Rockler has a sale on their 48 inch bar clamps right now. These aren’t the best on the market, but I have 10 or 12 and like them okay. For the current sale price you could get a decent pipe clamp set, but you’d still have to buy the pipe!

-- http://www.peteroxley.com -- http://north40studios.etsy.com --

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dalec

613 posts in 2613 days


#3 posted 10-24-2007 04:09 PM

Wayne and Peter,

I appreciate your thoughts on the Pony Brand pipe clamps and bar clamps. It seems purchasing woodworking equipment, there is always more to it once I begin to research. I have read in several threads that you can never have enough clamps. I will have to give thought to reorganizing my 2 car garage. Where am I going to put everything – my rhetorical question to myself. Not having a shop and unlikely to have any real dedicated space for one into the forseeable future, has it’s limitations.

Thanks for the jump start.

Dalec

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WayneC

12300 posts in 2821 days


#4 posted 10-24-2007 04:38 PM

Your welcome. I’m working out of my garage and understand where your coming from.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Paul's profile

Paul

649 posts in 2817 days


#5 posted 10-24-2007 05:00 PM

Dalec -

I have some HF clamps and the fit and finish and operation isn’t as good as better brands. Yet when you catch their clamps for 50% off (which happens regularly) and get a 6” F clamp for $2.00, it’s hard to pass up buying 5 or 10 because you do seem to never have enough clamps. Sometimes my Harbor Freight store has Pony bar clamp fixtures for $2 or $3 less than elsewhere, too.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I reach for my Pony F and Bar clamps first – closely followed by my bar clamps from Rockler and then Harbor Frieght bar and F clamps. There’s a definite pecking order among the clamps I reach for because the better clamps tighten up smoother and adjust easier and are less of a head-ache when you’re anxious about your glue setting up before you get everything situated. On a recent lamination project where I was really bearing down on the clamp up, a pin in a HF bar clamp fixture broke and now the screw and clamp pad are annoyingly separated. Of course, there’s clamps perhaps even better than Pony brand. I understand Bessies are a pleasure but I don’t have any because of cost.

You can do it with HF clamps – they will work – perhaps you need to start there with a low financial output – but your expectations change once you use the higher quality clamps and it’s harder to live with HF after that.

-- Paul, Texas

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dalec

613 posts in 2613 days


#6 posted 10-24-2007 05:04 PM

Wayne,

For a short while we were able to get two cars into the garage. It was for a short while.

Nature abhors a vacuum. Our family should resist this as much as we can, but Nature is stronger. More work to do!

Wayne, if you have pictures of your garage/shop, I would very much like to see how you have been able organize it so you can operate within the limitations of a 2 car garage. Likely I can learn something.

Dalec

View Blake's profile

Blake

3437 posts in 2598 days


#7 posted 10-24-2007 05:10 PM

There is a saying “only the rich can afford to be cheap.” I am a woodworker on a small budget too. But if you buy the HF clamps you may be sorry. You may end up paying more in the long run when you decide they are not adequate in some way. Maybe they make the wood wander because they are not true, maybe they break. I always recommend looking for used equipment because you may be able to find great quality for even less than the HF price. Clamps are usually easy to find at swap meets/flee markets.

-- Happy woodworking! http://www.openarmsphotography.com

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Paul

649 posts in 2817 days


#8 posted 10-24-2007 05:43 PM

That’s true Blake. Some of my “good stuff” is from auctions, garage sales, and flea markets.

-- Paul, Texas

View dalec's profile

dalec

613 posts in 2613 days


#9 posted 10-24-2007 05:48 PM

Thanks Blake,

I am beginning to get the picture. It always seems that as a general rule, equipment is worth what you pay for it. Being on a budget, I don’t want to buy twice and end up spending more than I would if I made a good decision on good quality tools in the first place.

I am not opposed to a bargain if there is one out there. Just that I need to confirm in my mind that it really is a bargain and not a marginal tool at a bargain price.

I appreciate your comments.

Dalec

View Greg3G's profile

Greg3G

815 posts in 2810 days


#10 posted 10-24-2007 06:04 PM

I would stay far away from the HF (Pittsburg brand I think) pipe clamps. I actually had one of the cast peices broke on me. They never operate smoothly have have always been a headache. I got so agravated at them, I tossed them in the trash.

I usually pick one or two pipeclamps every time I go to the Big Box store. Its a good way to slowly build the clamp supply and not hurt the buget too bad.

-- Greg - Charles Town, WV

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12300 posts in 2821 days


#11 posted 10-24-2007 06:24 PM

Dalec

I have a 3 car garage with no cars in it. Some photos of it are here. In general my garage is a mess. Most of it not related to the shop but more related to living in the same house for about 20 years.

http://lumberjocks.com/jocks/WayneC/workshop

Here is my workshop set on Flickr

http://www.flickr.com/photos/7406954@N03/sets/72157602378209817/

Just to say it again. I find my bargin clamps at the local flea market. Look for quality used clamps. I have gotten some super bar and F clamps lately. Seen lot pipe clamps, but have all I need. Also, the slippery slope on clamps are Parallel clamps such as these by Jet…

http://www.amazon.com/Jet-70411-Parallel-Clamp-Set/dp/B000F79022/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2/102-7449947-7697720?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1193242841&sr=8-2

I have also been building up a supply of classic handscrew woodworking clamps. They are very useful clamps. This one is a high end Bessey.

http://www.amazon.com/Bessey-HS-12-12-Inch-Handscrew-Clamp/dp/B0007D88XQ/ref=sr_1_3/102-7449947-7697720?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1193243000&sr=1-3

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Chris 's profile

Chris

1867 posts in 2715 days


#12 posted 10-24-2007 06:30 PM

Dalec,

I have been using only HF Clamps for a couple of years. The have been sufficient for the smallish project I have completed so far. However, I recently glued up a fair sized panel for a desk top and found that getting enough pressure on the 48” clamps without them distorting and causing glue-up issues to be an issue. I think starting off with some pipe clamps would be a good start.

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View Dadoo's profile

Dadoo

1771 posts in 2715 days


#13 posted 10-24-2007 08:44 PM

Don’t waste your money on Chinese “F”clamps. They’re all junk. Buy brand names like Jorgenson, Pony, Stanley, Bessie and even Craftsman makes a good set. Pipe clamps exert the most pressure…this is not always a good thing as it’s the glue that makes the bond. So when you squeeze it all out…?

I also apply Greg’s philosophy and buy 1 or 2 new clamps when visiting the local wood store. The wife doesn’t seem to mind the “under $50.00” purchases as much.

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

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dalec

613 posts in 2613 days


#14 posted 10-24-2007 09:53 PM

Thanks everyone for the education of clamps. You make learning much less painful. I can at least avoid some poor buys so I can get more value from my budget.

Wayne, Thanks for the pictures of your shop. I wish I could get more into my garage. I guess the limited space along with the budget and my just starting into woodworking will force me into making careful decisions on what I want to do as far as projects and what I need to do those projects.

You are all great.

Dalec

View Karson's profile

Karson

34902 posts in 3125 days


#15 posted 10-24-2007 10:29 PM

I’ve got 20 – 30 Harbor 3/4” pipe clamps. I’ve never had a problem and you can make them any length you need I’ve got some 8’ pipe that I just screw on if I need a long one.

When I have my pipe threaded at the big box store i have them thread both ends that way I can screw on a coupler and put two pipes together to make one really long if I need to. When i was glueing up my workbench I needed 100” of clamp so I just screwed some together. A great solution.

HF sometimes have 3/4” pipe clamps for 3.99 each

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

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