HF 36" Aluminum Bar Clamps, moderately average

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Review by Jeison posted 01-24-2010 04:40 AM 16316 views 1 time favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
HF 36" Aluminum Bar Clamps, moderately average HF 36" Aluminum Bar Clamps, moderately average No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I needed some larger clamps for an upcoming project, and saw these on sale, I got a bunch of the 36” clamps on sale (reg 11.99, but sale + coupon got em for $5.95 each). I think they’re Central Forge brand (like the HF one handed clamps). They have a 32” actual clamping capacity

I gave em a little bit of a workout clamping up some scraps to make a few boards, they put some solid pressure on without exploding, so thats always a plus lol!

My main concern is that after a few uses the pin that secures the sliding jaw in the indentations had gotten a bit chewed up, and it slightly dimpled the indentation itself, not enough to hamper its use, but over time the damage may build up until the clamp finally fails. Also there was a bit of play in the overall construction, it just felt a bit on the loose side to me. I also found the screw stuck a little bit in some of them, but a quick spritz of lubricant solved that.

Bottom line is they still seem to get the job done, and I don’t expect Bessey quality in a $6 clamp, so if they last me through another half a dozen projects I’ll be satisfied.

-- - Jei, Rockford IL - When in doubt, spray it with WD-40 and wrap it with duct tape. The details will attend to themselves.

View Jeison's profile


968 posts in 3881 days

16 comments so far

View grub32's profile


215 posts in 3821 days

#1 posted 01-24-2010 06:13 AM

I agree 100% with you…I have about 15 of them and they work great for what I paid for them. I have not had one break in three years. I use them to glue up panels and cutting boards. Not a lot of use but probably used em all at least 20 times. Got my money worth.


-- Educator by Day, Wood Butcher by Night!!

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


19241 posts in 4449 days

#2 posted 01-24-2010 06:42 AM

If you screwed a little piece of hardwood or metal on the buggered up spot, they might just last forever:-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Luke's profile


546 posts in 4067 days

#3 posted 01-24-2010 08:01 AM

I have quite a few of these probably 6-10. I’ve broken 2 of them already. The failure happens on the blue arm right by the screw. The piece that the actual thread goes through will break right underneath the threaded part if you give it too much pressure. I thought it might be a fluke on the first break but then the next one broke in the exact same spot. It looks like 80 grit sandpaper inside the metal and I’m sure it’s super crap. They were soooo cheap though and like you I couldn’t pass them up. If you have to put enough pressure on them to break them then your joint probably isn’t fitting correctly and we should fix that first I suppose. Also the arm that does the pushing on the threaded side tends to push the board up away from the clamp so I usually end up having to clamp the board down to the table or something. I wouldn’t complain if I hadn’t gone out and bought some bessey K bodies a while ago and WOW what a difference. Perfect clamp ups every time and sooooo easy to use. I’d give these blue suckers 3 stars too , not bad but not great. They do the job.

-- LAS,

View a1Jim's profile


118066 posts in 4350 days

#4 posted 01-24-2010 08:40 AM

Cheap but workable sounds good for a start. there 3/4 Pipe clamps are even less when there on sale and much stronger.


View Jeison's profile


968 posts in 3881 days

#5 posted 01-24-2010 10:46 AM

I was actually going to pick up the pipe clamps (they were like 3.99 on sale IIRC tho they were out of stock anyways) but when you factor in the cost of the pipe the bar clamps were actually cheaper (for the size I needed anyways), tho I I’ll grab a few next time I go back if they have any in stock at that price.

-- - Jei, Rockford IL - When in doubt, spray it with WD-40 and wrap it with duct tape. The details will attend to themselves.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3847 days

#6 posted 01-24-2010 03:33 PM

I bought 6 clamps like these a few years ago. 3 of the 6 have broken. The other 3 are my “last resort” clamps. I only use them when all the other clamps of a similar size are in use – which is rare. In addition to breaking, I find them awkward to use.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View gizmodyne's profile


1784 posts in 4863 days

#7 posted 01-24-2010 04:20 PM

I would rate these 1 star. Mine broke easily as described above. Pipe clamps would be a better investment.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View bobkberg's profile


439 posts in 3846 days

#8 posted 01-24-2010 09:11 PM

Based on what I’ve read, I’m certainly not going to buy any of these. besides, I like my pipe clamps because I can add and subtract length as needed. One lesson I learned the hard way years ago – Buy the best tools you can afford.

-- Bob - A sideline, not how I earn a living

View interpim's profile


1170 posts in 4231 days

#9 posted 01-25-2010 04:24 AM

I had the casting on one of these snap the day I bought it… don’t put heavy pressure on it at all, or else you’ll end up with a broken clamp as well.

-- San Diego, CA

View RedShirt013's profile


219 posts in 4435 days

#10 posted 01-25-2010 06:02 PM

Alum Bar clamps and pipe clamps are two different products and I don’t see why one should abandon one over the other. I use my pipe clamps a lot for glueups, but aluminum clamps are so light they are awesome for assembling cabinets, where you need the length but don’t need the super clamping force and the weight. I got two and I use them just as much as my pony pipe clamps. Mine haven’t break yet, but I haven’t really over cranked them yet.

-- Ed

View GaryBuck's profile


268 posts in 3999 days

#11 posted 01-26-2010 03:09 PM

Red shirt,, I couldn’t put it better I posted a comment on these here a while back and boy did I get an ear full. I think everybody expects a dollar or 5 dollar bar clamp or squeeze clamp to produce the same as a $20 bar clamp or even more. Not everybody can afford to drop the big bucks on tools and for a chiepie I think they are great. I’ve had mine for years and never had one break yet, but then again I don’t use them on “HEAVY” clamping or expect them to do the work of a big vise. Use them for what they are made for as with all your tools and they will give you your monies worth over and over. I have no complaints, I got quite a few of them.

View BreakingBoardom's profile


615 posts in 3854 days

#12 posted 02-18-2010 11:41 PM

I have 4 of the 60” versions of these from HF but mine have plastic caps on the surface so as to not mar the wood you’re clamping. They are ok but in softer woods like pine, the will leave indentions in the wood. I had to use wood blocks to spread the pressure out and keep them from leaving indentions. But yeah, for the cheap price, 3 stars is about right. When I can afford some Bessey or Jet clamps, then I’ll be more critical.

-- Matt -

View momiji's profile


11 posts in 3735 days

#13 posted 05-12-2010 04:25 AM

Well! It seems I wasn’t the only one having problems with these. None of mine broke but I can’t clamp anything seriously since the aluminum bar bends under pressure and the clamps push the wood up and away from it. Not only do I have to clamp both sides of the pannel I’m gluing but I also have to use short F-clamps to hold these in place!!!. I end up using twice as many as my bar clamps so there really was no savings…

-- Ah! The loving smell of heated Acer Saccharum...

View MattObjects's profile


24 posts in 3150 days

#14 posted 12-07-2011 03:52 AM

I bought 6 of these because at the time, they were the only clamps of this type anywhere close to my price range. A handful of projects later, I have 1 semi-working clamp left. The castings on the other 5 broke through just below where the vise screw passes to tighten the clamp. On the bright side, I salvaged the aluminum bars from four of the busted clamps and used them for quite a while as the sides and slide of a router sled planing jig . . .

The manager at Harbor Freight told me the clamps actually have a lifetime warranty but that it won’t be honored unless you keep your receipt. So these wouldn’t be that bad a deal if you bought a dozen or so, kept the receipt some place safe, and just planned to return a few every time you went to HF . . .

View Dave's profile


11435 posts in 3613 days

#15 posted 02-03-2012 07:00 PM

Thanks for the review.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

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