C-clamps, how the mighty have fallen

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Forum topic by OSB posted 12-21-2016 07:43 PM 560 views 0 times favorited 1 reply Add to Favorites Watch
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147 posts in 670 days

12-21-2016 07:43 PM

I have done some woodworking over the years but I have done much more metal fabrication and professionally.

I’m working up a small shop space and when I was looking for a Wilton vise I saw a pair of NOS Wilton 404 4” standard duty C-clamps. The price was right so I bought them.

A couple days ago I stopped at a home improvement store having a moving sale and they had some Wilton C-clamps 540A series. I bought another pair of 4” clamps and one 5”. The price was OK and they are better than most out there.

Comparing the two, there is no comparison.

Both have Acme thread spindles but the 404 is a lot thicker. Both have nice swivel pads that are similar.

The 404 has a drop forged STEEL frame, the 540A has a ductile iron frame, a casting!

The 404 has classic Wilton grey paint on the frame, the 540A has a darker cast iron color paint but the surface finish is quite a bit rougher due to the casting underneath.

The 540A has a black oxide finish on the spindle and swivel pad, the 404 has black oxide on the swivel pad but not the spindle.

I have to say both are good clamps, way better than the average cast iron import with standard threads but I’m going to keep an eye out for NOS and good used older C-clamps because for about the same cost, the NOS clamps are much higher quality.

For woodworking, the 540A is probably more clamp than you need but when it is metal work and you really need to clamp, the 404 is the way to go.

This sort of thing is happening with everything so young people, look at the stuff that people used 50 years ago before you put your money down on a new tool.

1 reply so far

View JAAune's profile


1838 posts in 2461 days

#1 posted 12-27-2016 06:24 PM

I’ve broken a cast C-clamp before. It seemed to work fine for years then one day, it cracked in two.

-- See my work at and

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