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Gold plated clamps...

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Forum topic by JeffP posted 02-14-2015 02:09 AM 2478 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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JeffP

573 posts in 854 days


02-14-2015 02:09 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

...they must be gold plated, that’s all I can figure.

I may have mentioned it before…I’m addicted to watching woodworking youtube videos. Seems like everyone who makes these videos owns a thousand dollars worth (in other words, 4 or 5) of these really nice clamps.

Bessey rapid action
Festool clamps
Kreg Automaxx clamps
...and on and on

Each one more exorbitantly priced than the next…

To be clear, I’m NOT talking about bar clamps for large glue-ups. I’m planning to build my own.

I’m talking just about the general purpose, less than 2 foot long kind of clamps that one uses constantly in the shop.

Before I drop a king’s ransom on half a dozen clamps, I wanted to get peoples opinion on a couple things:
1) are there any inexpensive ones that work better than your run of the mill HF or Irwin clamps that I should seriously consider instead of the expensive name brands above?
2) why are they so darned expensive?!?
3) if I have to spend nearly $50 for a smallish clamp, what is your favorite brand/model and why?

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.


26 replies so far

View JAAune's profile

JAAune

1640 posts in 1779 days


#1 posted 02-14-2015 02:49 AM

It’s generally a trade-off between fit and finish and ease of use. I like smooth acting clamps that tighten without twisting, binding or slipping and are fast and easy to engage. Some inexpensive clamps work well and others don’t.

Beware of anything with chrome-plated threads. I’ve never used any that worked smoothly. Large, bare, acme threads seem to work best.

The Festool clamps are really nice but unless you have a workbench with holes like the MFT or want the t-slot compatibility, there’s not much point in getting them. They slip easily into holes for easy clamping of parts to the bench top. They also slide into t-slots on aluminum extrusions or tracksaw rails. I never use them for anything else.

My favorite clamps for everyday bench use are just ordinary F-style clamps like the Jorgensen 37’s and the ones pictured below.

-- See my work at http://remmertstudios.com and http://altaredesign.com

View MikesProjects's profile

MikesProjects

162 posts in 1364 days


#2 posted 02-14-2015 02:57 AM

ha ha, 4 or 5 are a thousand dollars worth, lol…

-- -Mike, Southern California, YouTube User ( Give & Take )

View Mark Davisson's profile

Mark Davisson

597 posts in 2779 days


#3 posted 02-14-2015 03:11 AM

My go-to clamp is found at HF. They look like the cheap ones they sell, but they are significantly better.

http://www.harborfreight.com/heavy-duty-ratchet-bar-clamp-spreader-95027.html

http://www.harborfreight.com/36-inch-ratchet-bar-clamp-spreader-98897.html

I bought mine when they still carried shorter models. I have several 12- and 18-inch versions.

-- I'm selfless because it feels so good!

View Gixxerjoe04's profile

Gixxerjoe04

835 posts in 1039 days


#4 posted 02-14-2015 03:21 AM

Haha aint that the dang truth, I like the HF F clamps, they work well for their intended purposes. Their quick clamps suck in my opinion, I’ve bought Irwin quick clamps when they were buy one get one free at lowes before which was nice, they’re good quality. Would love to buy those large clamps that cost $50-60 a piece, but I’m not rich.

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

4026 posts in 1813 days


#5 posted 02-14-2015 04:48 AM

These are my go to clamps. I use them for every thing.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

7172 posts in 2039 days


#6 posted 02-14-2015 04:57 AM

These rock and are worth the price:

These are a waste of money:

+1 for Bondo’s clamps.

View exelectrician's profile

exelectrician

2327 posts in 1889 days


#7 posted 02-14-2015 06:05 AM

I bought two Kreg automax clamps and a piece of the automax extrusion. I was apprehensive at first but by golly I am so happy I made the purchase, hands down the quickest and handiest clamps in the shop.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View Rob's profile

Rob

704 posts in 2533 days


#8 posted 02-14-2015 07:05 AM

There are so many different types of clamps because each type is suited to a particular use. Get an assortment, not just all of one kind.

C clamps aren’t all that great for woodworking any more.

Bar clamps are relatively cheap so you can afford a lot of them.

Parallel clamps are like bar clamps but way more awesome and more expensive. (Check out Bessey UniKlamps for smaller parallel clamps.)

The worst part about many types of clamps is the hassle of adjusting the jaws to fit your material, then tightening. That’s why I really like automatic clamps like Kreg’s automaxx. I also bought a pair of Bessey automatic toggle clamps for a jig but haven’t used them yet. The great part is, you set the tension once and that’s pretty much it. The clamp always adjusts to the thickness of your material.

I also like Jorgensen gear clamps because they’re so quick and easy to use. A 4” or 6” one is great for attaching an accessory to your table saw fence. In tight quarters a Quick Grip is sometimes better but the gear clamp has more holding power than the lower-end Quick Grips.

-- Ask an expert or be the expert - http://woodworking.stackexchange.com

View JeffP's profile

JeffP

573 posts in 854 days


#9 posted 02-14-2015 02:07 PM

Thanks Bondo, again you have come through with what seems like good solid practical advice. What these lack in “fanciness”, they make up for in dependability.

Thinking back on it, I have a couple of these, and while I don’t use them as often as the Irwin’s, I have never been annoyed with these F-style bar clamps. The same certainly cannot be said with most of the Irwin and HF type of squeeze to tighten clamps.

The price is certainly right.


These are my go to clamps. I use them for every thing.

- bondogaposis


-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.

View JeffP's profile

JeffP

573 posts in 854 days


#10 posted 02-14-2015 02:09 PM

Could not agree more. I had the “misfortune” of buying just one of these good ones fairly early…and all I managed to remember later when shopping was “That Irwin clamp rocks”. Unfortunately, that led me to buy a bunch of the crappy yellow Irwins. Junk.


These rock and are worth the price:

These are a waste of money:

+1 for Bondo s clamps.

- waho6o9


-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.

View CharlesA's profile

CharlesA

3020 posts in 1260 days


#11 posted 02-14-2015 02:12 PM

I guess this is where our experiences diverge. I HATE the few HF clamps linked to above. Had one just break, others are awkward. Won’t buy anymore. I have some HF F clamps that are okay.

Also, I’ve been using four of the Irwin yellow clamps for 6 years or so and haven’t had any problems at all with them. What do y’all dislike about them?

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View paxorion's profile

paxorion

1102 posts in 1508 days


#12 posted 02-14-2015 02:18 PM


It s generally a trade-off between fit and finish and ease of use….

- JAAune

Ain’t it the truth. I’ve spent my share of money on cheap clamps and now stick with the brand name clamps. Each one does it’s part.

  • The Irwin XP600s are great but very large. Be careful about where you clamp as the pressure isn’t even across the large clamp pads. I also use the slightly smaller SL300 a good amount. The smaller 100-150lb rated clamps are convenient for shop use but not much else.
  • For F-style clamps, I tend to prefer Bessey and Jorgensen. The material quality used by those two brands are many steps above the cheaper alternative (HF F-Style). I have a few of the Rockler F-Style clamp is a good bargain alternative with some deficiencies compared to the Bessey Tradesman.
  • The Kreg Automaxx clamps are user friendly, but I find that they are more task specific.

Don’t also discount the hand screw clamp. I keep 2 on hand and they amazingly useful.

-- paxorion

View JeffP's profile

JeffP

573 posts in 854 days


#13 posted 02-14-2015 02:18 PM

Thanks Rob. This sounds logical.

We seem to have stumbled upon an area where the OCD part of my brain is not in concert with the logical part of it.

Some part of me WANTS (needs?) a set of identical awesome clamps all lined up in a holder on the wall.

Another aspect of this can be handled pretty easily. That is the problem of having about a dozen completely worthless piece of crap clamps littering my shop. I really need to have a trash can ceremony for the lot of them.


There are so many different types of clamps because each type is suited to a particular use. Get an assortment, not just all of one kind.

C clamps aren t all that great for woodworking any more.

Bar clamps are relatively cheap so you can afford a lot of them.

Parallel clamps are like bar clamps but way more awesome and more expensive. (Check out Bessey UniKlamps for smaller parallel clamps.)

The worst part about many types of clamps is the hassle of adjusting the jaws to fit your material, then tightening. That s why I really like automatic clamps like Kreg s automaxx. I also bought a pair of Bessey automatic toggle clamps for a jig but haven t used them yet. The great part is, you set the tension once and that s pretty much it. The clamp always adjusts to the thickness of your material.

I also like Jorgensen gear clamps because they re so quick and easy to use. A 4” or 6” one is great for attaching an accessory to your table saw fence. In tight quarters a Quick Grip is sometimes better but the gear clamp has more holding power than the lower-end Quick Grips.

- Rob


-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.

View JeffP's profile

JeffP

573 posts in 854 days


#14 posted 02-14-2015 02:24 PM

Hi Charles, for me the yellow ones have always worked well enough for about a project or two; then I pick it up later and find that I couldn’t squash a fresh marshmallow with it. Don’t know if they wear out or get rust/corrosion/sawdust/whatever in a critical location. Maybe I should “autopsy” one of them before they all go in the trash can this weekend…


I guess this is where our experiences diverge. I HATE the few HF clamps linked to above. Had one just break, others are awkward. Won t buy anymore. I have some HF F clamps that are okay.

Also, I ve been using four of the Irwin yellow clamps for 6 years or so and haven t had any problems at all with them. What do y all dislike about them?

- CharlesA


-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.

View CharlesA's profile

CharlesA

3020 posts in 1260 days


#15 posted 02-14-2015 02:32 PM

Hmm. Never had a problem with mine. I use them all the time for all kinds of miscellaneous clamping.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

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