I think Clamps, especially good ones are...well worth the money, now that I read this forum

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Forum topic by steve6678 posted 11-02-2012 04:30 AM 4580 views 0 times favorited 130 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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438 posts in 2028 days

11-02-2012 04:30 AM

I cannot afford good clamps, no way. $30-60 each. (more like 50 -70) **They are pricey but I realize now, that it’s probably the way to go..
But, then I go and buy Harbor Freight cheapo’s and regret it, they work, barely, I’ve broken a few, but never seem to hit the mark as I want it.
What’s a woodworker to do unless they have $500. to drop on a kit of Besseys?

UPDATE: I will take my time and search Craig’s daily, and purchase what I ca, when I can…I can’t wait to have some NICE parallel clamps, my work will be so much more gratifying.
Thanks for all the advice!

I’ll buy a few, here and there, and quit whining that I don’t have good clamps. Waaahhh!

-- Steve - Dust sucks!

130 replies so far

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David Craig

2137 posts in 3077 days

#1 posted 11-02-2012 04:37 AM

Clamps are one of those things you can never have too many or too large a variety of. I started out with a number of HF spreader clamps, 12, 24, and 36 inches and a number of 12 inch F style clamps. Over the length of time, every time I had an extra 20, I would buy a Bessey or Irwin clamp. Now I have 2 48 inch Jorgensons, about a half dozen 12 inch and another half dozen 24 inch Bessey and Irwin clamps. The HF clamps kept me from being needy as I slowly built the collection.

I don’t know about you, but my relatives never know what to get me for holidays and birthdays. All of them have a list of the clamps I like. Most family gifts are to be 20 bucks and under. Makes everyone happy, including myself.

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

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438 posts in 2028 days

#2 posted 11-02-2012 04:47 AM

lol, yup, good stuff, thanks

-- Steve - Dust sucks!

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1564 posts in 3211 days

#3 posted 11-02-2012 04:48 AM

I totally agree. I keep looking at the ‘nice’ cabinet style clamps and just shake my head. IMO they are priced $10 – $20+ too high (depending on size). It just amazes me how much a couple pieces of cast metal, a threaded rod and a steel rod cost.

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies, the wall gets in the way AAANNNDDD table saws BITE my fingers!!!.. - Mike -

View waho6o9's profile


8168 posts in 2545 days

#4 posted 11-02-2012 04:53 AM

I hear ya.
Craigslist has been good to me on clamps.
One must look every day, and then, bingo, clamp city.

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Jorge G.

1537 posts in 2443 days

#5 posted 11-02-2012 05:26 AM

What’s a woodworker to do unless they have $500.

Here you go, nice project and you get bar clamps… :-)

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

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1643 posts in 2601 days

#6 posted 11-02-2012 05:38 AM

HF pipe and F clamps are inexpensive and work well.

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 2978 days

#7 posted 11-02-2012 09:23 AM

Even pipe clamps cost a fair bit unless you’ve got lots of spare black gas pipe sitting around, but definitely cheaper than nice parallel clamps.

It’s frustrating, I agree. It has taken me several years to build up my vast collection of 8 Jet parallel clamps. Yes, 8. Everytime I have a spare $100 to drop on your shop, clamps are the last place I look to spend it, so it has taken a lot of discipline to get even these 8. The one lesson I’ve learned and strategy I’ve tried to stick to is that whenever a retailer is discounting parallel clamps, I must take advantage. It slowly builds the clamp collection and I don’t feel I’ve gotten as gouged as having bought them retail.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View knotscott's profile


7982 posts in 3344 days

#8 posted 11-02-2012 10:25 AM

Woodworking is a niche market…..every aspect of it can be overpriced. There’s no way I can justify the price of some of these clamps, even if they are great clamps. I tend buy the deals from sales, clearance prices, etc. I bought some of the Stanley parallel clamps dirt cheap from Big Lots a few years ago. I also bought the Jet clamps at a steep discount. The HF F style clamps are a great deal for lighter work. Pipe clamps in general are relatively affordable too.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Arminius's profile


304 posts in 3772 days

#9 posted 11-02-2012 10:26 AM

To take a contrarian view, a well-made clamp lasts forever. I definitely understand the frustration of funding a good set among all the other items you could add to your shop, and have definitely gone the used and cheap route. But I use the good ones almost every project, and they have outlasted most of my original power tools.

I also think the ‘you cannot have too many clamps’ idea is both true and wrong-headed. Different projects are going to require additions, but you can do a lot with a fairly small set – 4 24” Besseys are my workhorses. Those and some good quality handscrews do an awful lot.

Pretty sure that Lee Valley has a Bessey sale once a year.

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David Craig

2137 posts in 3077 days

#10 posted 11-02-2012 10:32 AM

Items like these shop made right angle clamps, can also save you some money. It allows you to use the less expensive 6 inch and 12 inch clamps and greatly reduce the number of 24” + clamps that bring a higher price tag.

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2078 days

#11 posted 11-02-2012 11:53 AM

There are lots of techniques out there to reduce clamping needs. These include fast drying adhesives, gang clamping, sprung and mechanically locking joints, cheaply made jigs and assembly fixtures, brads and screws, shrink wrap, even tape…

There’s always used clamps, too…

Craigslist, pawn shops, garage sales, etc… Boring old clamps rarely get much love, so they are often sold cheap. That’s WHEN you can find the good ones. Lots of crap out there, too!

On the other hand, if a top quality clamp could be sold at a decent profit margin for $15-20, don’t you think it would be out there? Put yourself in the shoes of a project manager at a tool company and think about it… You could corner the market! On the same token, if an Asian factory could cheaply produce such an item, without patent infringement issues, they’d be shopping them to every wholesaler on the planet.

While some of the cheaper clamps are plenty serviceable, it’s the little details of top-quality stuff, as well as a smaller potential purchaser base, that drives up the cost. This isn’t limited to woodworking. Compare the low and high end of anything, from tools, to cars, to homes… It’s the details that make the difference, and it’s up to us to individually decide if those details make enough different to us to justify the extra cost. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t…

View HorizontalMike's profile


7749 posts in 2882 days

#12 posted 11-02-2012 12:14 PM

I am beginning to think that “good” clamps are a lot like “good” WW equipment, in that they cost more and you only cry once when you fork out the $$$ for them. Once I started using the Jorgensen Cabinet Masters, I finally understood. Yeah, I still have a lot of their F-style clamps and a “dwindling supply” of HF clamps (they fail and are discarded), but the Cabinet Master parallel clamps (similar to Bessey) simply change/improve your clamping skills, IMO.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2216 days

#13 posted 11-02-2012 12:21 PM

I have A LOT of the Pittsburgh bar clamps from HF. I also have a few longer jorgensen HD bar clamps as they deflect less than the HF ones. The best thing I ever did was bite the bullet and buy a pair of 12”, 24” and 36” parallel clamps. The 36”s are jorgensen cabinet masters and the 12” and 24” are Bessy Revo’s. It’s amazing what a difference a good parallel clamp makes when doing a glue-up (ESPECIALLY end grain cutting boards). After I get the glue-up registered and locked down with 2 parallel clamps (and cauls on top of them) I slap on the Pittsburgh bar clamps where they are needed.

I used to think they were an overpriced luxury until I used them. If I had the money, I would have a wall full of them.


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Monte Pittman

28962 posts in 2306 days

#14 posted 11-02-2012 01:37 PM

Clamps are number one on Christmas list as well. They can’t go wrong getting any.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

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404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 2937 days

#15 posted 11-02-2012 01:52 PM

Ask an Englishman what kind of cramps (see, we even spell it differently) he uses and the answer will be ‘Record Sash Cramps’.
Even though a sash cramp is only a steel bar, two jaws and a threaded rod, you’d think they’d all be the same. But they’re not. I bought 4 cheap ones before, ruined one job with them and took them to be recycled.
I won’t make the same mistake again – you get what you pay for.

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