If on a Desert Island...

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Review by davidroberts posted 08-22-2012 03:46 AM 4593 views 1 time favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Over the years, like most of you, I have collected a variety of clamps, different brand, styles, sizes. Before wood consumed my thoughts, I didn’t know a bar clamp from a parallel clamp, much less they even existed. I credit Norm for my introduction. As a pup, ol’ Daddy taught me to weld so I know C-clamps. My bar clamp collection started and grew each year as Rockler and Woodcraft held their Black Friday sales. Various sizes of Jet and Rockler brand, light to medium duty bar clamps. Bought some Pony 3/4” pipe clamps but then started buying the Rockler’s when they came out with the nice feet that keeps the crank handle up and off the bench top. They would go on sale for cheap and Bob’s your uncle.

A few years ago, Irwin started their annual Quick Grip sale and I loaded up on 6”, 12” and a few 24” one handers. They live in racks I built on the sides and back of my bench. I bought some wood jaw clamps mostly out of curiosity, liked them and bought a few more. Probably a few more spring clamps than I need. Then Jet parallel clamps caught my attention, the best parallel made in my opinion, a bit spendy, but when on sale, and only when on sale, I can’t resist. And recently, in a moment of weakness I bought out the local Sears hardware store when their Craftsman parallel clamps went to clearance for $30 a pop, all sizes. I caught the salesman unloading the rack. I think Sears got out of the parallel clamp business. I didn’t know they were in it. Even bought a few clamps here and there off CL. All these clamps (save Jet parallel) serve a purpose but nothing to write home about, or spend time on a review.

Some of my smaller Quick Grips that I use to hold jigs and material along the edge of the bench are starting to weaken and slip, and my smaller Jet bar clamps seem to always be in use. A few months ago while strolling through HD, I noticed they carry a pretty good selection of Jorgensen bar and parallel clamps. Maybe because I have no attraction to orange, or I need another clamp like a hole in my head, I just never noticed. I stopped and pulled a 12” bar clamp off the rack and immediately noticed this thing in my hand is a well made, sturdy, hefty, solid, beefy, good looking bar clamp. It started to flirt with me, and I got the feeling I should take one home. The price was right, about $13, so heck, I bought two.

I laid them on my bench and saw how jealous the other clamps were. And rightfully so. I tried them out on some I-beams I use to keep work above the bench top, tried them on a router jig, on the table saw, bandsaw, jig glueups, to hold down a bench grinder, buffer, plate joiner jig, drill press, and other everyday clamping needs at the bench. Man, what a clamp.

The castings and ferrule seem massive compared to my now puny medium duty bar clamps. The swivel is a whopping 1-3/16 diameter and the plastic pads are thick and tough, and stay put. The swivel doesn’t slide around when pressure is applied. The arm slides with ease along the thick, smooth 1” x 5/16” plated bar, but it grips like an arm wrestler when the clutch is released. And the clutch doesn’t slip around or catch, is easy to engage when hidden from view, like under the bench, and has perfect tension. The reach is a roomy 3”, but seems like more. The 1/2” steel acme screw is silky smooth and cinches up quick and strong. No turning and turning small threaded screws. The handle is hardwood, probably ash or hickory maybe, and large, perfect to grip for my average hands. It feels so good. They are rated at 1,000 max pressure, and it doesn’t take much to get there it seems. No deflection in the bar, but really not expected along just 12”. The casting is powder coated and IS much more durable than my other clamps. I love orange. They wear it so well. They have never slipped on any application and whatever is held down stays down, no movement at all.

These 12” Jorgs have been my go-to clamps for several months now for all sorts of daily bench duty. I’ve bought a few because they work so well. I plan to start replacing my 24”-36” medium duty bar clamps with these heavy duty, bad boy Ponies. What a find. I had no idea the 3700 series Pony clamps were of such quality, build and finish. I’ll hazard a guess and say there may not be another bar clamp this well made on the market today. It may take me a while, but I WILL have a rack full of the sweet beauties one day.

If you got this far, thanks for your time.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

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1027 posts in 4332 days

16 comments so far

View Moron's profile


5048 posts in 4739 days

#1 posted 08-22-2012 04:33 AM

5 stars for sure

Jorge is my friend too

couldn’t say enough good about the brand to ever change the delinquent mind

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View jack1's profile


2151 posts in 4873 days

#2 posted 08-22-2012 04:35 AM

I found these clamps after I had bought the rockler clamps you mentioned which are pretty good. I bought a few and then some more. I own 4 of each size. They are great parallel clamps period. I’m always impressed with the power and ease of use of these clamps. Good stuff! P.S. got rid of my rusty pipe clamps…


-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

View Moron's profile


5048 posts in 4739 days

#3 posted 08-22-2012 04:44 AM

its easy to find out which clamp is your favourite.

its easy to find out what clamp is the quickest

the fastest

the strongest

buy 35 of each brand

in the end

u will reach for the brand that fails you least

I’m a fan of Jorgys : ))

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Manitario's profile


2816 posts in 3729 days

#4 posted 08-22-2012 05:40 AM

I have a few of these as well; comparing them to my other clamps is like comparing a V8 diesel truck with a 4 cylinder hybrid.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View joewilliams's profile


89 posts in 2970 days

#5 posted 08-22-2012 10:52 AM

I also have a few of these and wish I had a lot more!

-- Joe - - - something witty should go here - - -

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3360 days

#6 posted 08-22-2012 04:59 PM

Hmmm… for years used Pony bar clamps, then went to a couple Bessey parallel clamps, too pricey for me. Been using the HF clamps for four years now, maybe time to upgrade a little. Another HD find?

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

9645 posts in 3174 days

#7 posted 08-22-2012 05:00 PM

I have a pair of the exact same clamps… and they are high quality beasts….

A while back I bought some smaller cheepie ‘F’ clamps and while they work well enough for most jobs… they don’t compare in quality….

First glaring difference, the cheepies don’t have ACME threaded screws! (while of course the Jorgenson clamps do).

That alone is a huge difference.

-- Matt -- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View CplSteel's profile


143 posts in 3010 days

#8 posted 08-22-2012 06:00 PM

I don’t have nearly as many clamps as the OP, but I do have a pair of these and if I reach for a clamp and it is not one of these, 99 times out of 100 it is because these are already in use.

The only downside, if it is a downside, is that they can be tougher to unclamp than I would like. The wooden handle can be hard to unscrew given the combination of 1) the semi-slick wood (vs rubber or some other substance) 2) the odd positions (under a table) it can be placed in and 3) the limited depth means that the handle is often close to a piece of the project, making it hard to get your fist around the handle. That said, I will still buy more of them.

View Prplhrtjarhead's profile


80 posts in 2952 days

#9 posted 08-22-2012 10:16 PM

Have you ever considered giving up wood work and going in to writing? Very well written review, not just the information in it.

-- "We'll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we'll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness." R. Reagan, "The Speech", 1964

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 3772 days

#10 posted 08-22-2012 10:21 PM

Great review. I have a few of their small clamps, but mostly mine are Bessey (I am more drawn to the red than the orange…).

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View jack1's profile


2151 posts in 4873 days

#11 posted 08-22-2012 10:30 PM

Step away from the red and no one will be hurt…
Good blog

-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

View dnick's profile


986 posts in 3228 days

#12 posted 08-23-2012 03:44 AM

Thanks for the review. Got them on my list.

-- dnick, North Hollywood, Ca.

View harshest's profile


63 posts in 3250 days

#13 posted 08-23-2012 12:16 PM

I have the 36” version of these and they are great, tons of clamping power and and minimal bending of the steel. Almost all of my clamps are orange.

View TechRedneck's profile


770 posts in 3703 days

#14 posted 08-23-2012 11:10 PM

I have these clamps along with the parallels. They are my go to clamps.

They live in a rack mounted above the assembly table. A nice row of orange, made in USA.

I like them more than the Bessie’s because of the smooth bar. Keep some blue painters tape handy and run a strip over the bar to prevent glue from sticking.

Nice review by the way!

-- Mike.... West Virginia. "Man is a tool using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.". T Carlyle

View javaboy's profile


108 posts in 2980 days

#15 posted 10-14-2012 11:19 PM

I have a nice selection of the Jorgenson heavy duty clamps and like them a lot. My only criticism is the jaw pads—they leave an oily residue stain on the wood. Nothing seems to get the “oil” off the clamp pads, and length of time in use doesn’t seem to have diminished the residue they leave either. The residue hasn’t been a big problem for me, because the sanding I do after glue up has always removed all traces of the stains, but be aware if you are doing fine work with minimal sanding you may have a problem with your finishes if the oily residue is not thoroughly removed.

-- Sow justice, reap peace

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