Harbor Freight clamp "improvement"

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Blog entry by Tugboater78 posted 11-10-2015 12:12 AM 2158 reads 3 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So about a year ago i bought a couple of HF’s aluminum bar clamps, to try them out. The other day the fiance beought home a couple more, cause she was near there and thought i could use them. I think i chose the right woman!

They have worked good for about everything i put them too. But i have noticed in some applications where a little more pressure is needed, that they distort. I have read elsewhere that others have noticed the same. I also read or saw a modification that supposedly helps.

Installing a piece of wood inside the aluminum channel. They used solid wood, pine i think, but i have a ton of scrap ply so i used that instead.

Cant remember exact measurments, may edit later.
Roughly 32”x 3/4”x 1 1/8” for thier 36” clamp.
I had to use handplane to shave.

Had to plow a dado on one side to clear the notches in upper part of the aluminum. Just guessed on distance, ended up just shy of a 3/8 dado by running it across single blade of tablesaw.

I left the piece short enough to be able to install the plastic cap back on end, then run a screw through cap into the ply.

Then drilled/countersunk a couple screws from each side. Not sure if others had done this, but seemed to be right thing to do. 2 near the cap end, and 2 in center of bar

I also had some scrap strips of “laminate” hardboard. Figured they would make good clamp pads. Cut them 1.5” x 1.5” and stuck them to some doublesided tape, and then to the clamps.

Just sharing in case someone can make use of it. I havent had a chance to test and see if it helps, we shall see.


Oh and while i was on clamps, i went up to my towns maintenance garage and borrowed thier pipe/thread cutters and ” standardized” all my pipe clamps. All mine were a different length. I also threaded both ends of all of them.

-- "....put that handsaw to work and make it earn its keep. - summerfi" <==< JuStiN >==>=->

2 comments so far

View JayT's profile


6419 posts in 3223 days

#1 posted 11-10-2015 01:14 AM

I have a few of those same aluminum HF clamps and did that modification with some 1×2 after attending a Paul Sellers session at The Woodworking Show where he recommended it. Really helps with stiffness of the bar and is an easy & cheap upgrade. Makes some questionable clamps very usable.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View greg48's profile


630 posts in 3769 days

#2 posted 11-10-2015 03:04 AM

Thank you for that post Tugboater. I mean to give it a go for my HF’s

-- Greg, No. Cal. - "Gaudete in Domino Semper"

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