A Paean to an American Classic

  • Advertise with us
Review by vipond33 posted 04-16-2013 05:17 AM 4426 views 0 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch
A Paean to an American Classic No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Good everyday tools make everything better.


I have an abundance of Jorgensen 3700 clamps on hand, today I bought some more. I’ve been happily using these same American clamps for decades and I’ve really no idea whether the people involved are being paid well or not, but to this day the quality remains outstanding.


It does seem there are companies that make a cheaper, poorer copy of this design but I would say to them and you – why bother? Many of my clamps have been used thousands if not tens of thousands of times so the per use cost becomes less than a piece of Kleenex. Blow your nose, admire and smile after easily pulling up a perfect joint.

These ones were $10.40.

Let me enumerate the features they have from the smallest to the largest.

The paint is perfect. Crisp, heavy and clean. And real bright orange.

The lacquered maple handles are perfect too. Smoothly cut & accurately finished, astonishingly so. I tape them up after, but only to have a high grip still possible with rather dry fingertips.

The threads are dead smooth and powerful as are the swivels. They line up perfectly on contact with little backlash. A good thread such as this allows you to smoothly creep up on your pressure; a drop of oil now and then makes all the difference.

The mating surfaces are flat and clean, I still take time just the once with a fine file and make them truly smooth. Sometimes you may get away with no protection blocks.

The clutches are crisp and positive when new, almost too much so. 30 yrs. older ones have a butter smooth old pair of pants feel to them. I have reversed the clutches on a few.

The fly in the ointment is the new clamp pads. Plastic instead of the rubber type, which would leave funny marks sometimes but would also allow difficult clamping at a slight angle. Plastic slips and also marks under higher pressure on soft woods.

It’s interesting to see that the folks at Jorgensen have not just sat on their butt collecting royalties on these mass produced simple casting patterns over the years. The new ones show some changes,

There is more meat in both parts, a longer thread casting on the tail-stock and a redesigned upper clamp face, now slightly larger than the original ellipse. All thoughtful and useful.

Older styles were riveted with a drift able pin on the end of bar and a solid heavy rivet at the head. Newer ones are upset punched, quite solid though, with only a crimp style restraining bit on the bar end. File it off to reverse things and then punch it back yourself.


Never equaled by the Europeans, this is the Apollo of small clamps.


-- [email protected] : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

View vipond33's profile


1405 posts in 3271 days

21 comments so far

View NiteWalker's profile


2741 posts in 3350 days

#1 posted 04-16-2013 07:05 AM

The 3700 series are ok IMHO, but not great.
They flex more than the HF blue and gray handled bar clamps.

My go to clamps are bessey tradesmans now.
They don’t flex, aren’t too heavy, the handles are amazing, and they’re just well built all around. They also include clamp pads that don’t leave oily residue on workpieces.

I pay about $14 each for 12” tradesmans.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View SPalm's profile


5336 posts in 4655 days

#2 posted 04-16-2013 11:30 AM

These are my overall favorite clamps by far. I just love them. I have had several for over 30 years, so I know of the slight changes that you have described. My older ones don’t look as worn as the one you pictured, but really do have that old blue jean feel to them.

I have almost all of my original rubber pads and hang on to them with care. I wish they would sell a baggy of these, even at a outrageous price, to those that want them. The new plastic ones don’t do it for me.

I too want to go out and buy some more today. Even the longer versions have a nice bow to them when tightened that I don’t mind at all – it lets me know they are working.

Thanks for the review Gene,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View DocSavage45's profile


8978 posts in 3616 days

#3 posted 04-16-2013 04:41 PM

Have the HF and Jorgensen, as well as another knock off. Over time HF has gone from a plated finish to a painted finish. The HF clamps require maintenance to manage “rust”.

I also have the Bessy K clamps.

Hey my favorite hammer is an old beat up Stanley steel claw hammer. Fits and moves comfortably in my hands. And I look for it amongst the other hammers?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View pintodeluxe's profile


6155 posts in 3587 days

#4 posted 04-16-2013 04:41 PM

I’ve never met an F style clamp I really liked. However I have only tried Jet and Bessey. I much prefer pipe clamps or parallel clamps. I don’t like the way the small round pad skates around when tightening the clamp. I certainly can’t speak to the Jorgensens, but I think it is a common problem with F style clamps.
Do you have any trouble with that?

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View nwbusa's profile


1022 posts in 3060 days

#5 posted 04-16-2013 07:11 PM

I’m selling my collection of el cheapo F-style clamps and investing in either Joregnsens or Besseys. I really like the new Bessey Revo parallel clamps, but I haven’t tried any of their F-styles. I know that Jorgensen makes three styles, light duty (300 lb. clamping force), standard (600 lb) and heavy duty (1000 lb). I’m guessing the standard style would be adequate for most tasks.

P.S. Lee Valley sells leather clamp pads for these clamps.

-- John, BC, Canada

View Marpintero's profile


211 posts in 4061 days

#6 posted 04-16-2013 07:14 PM

What about Piher, spanish brand? Does anyone have one? Looks pretty strong and fine.

-- Our lives are marked and bound together by concentric rings. Martín - Argentina

View Mark Davisson's profile

Mark Davisson

598 posts in 4091 days

#7 posted 04-16-2013 07:23 PM

It seems like I read recently where “Made in China” labels were found on Jorgensen clamps in the store. The guy found, within the same display, some with M i C labels and some with M i USA labels, so they might be in transition. I’m pretty sure their Pony clamps are made here, but the 3700 series might have moved.

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

View NiteWalker's profile


2741 posts in 3350 days

#8 posted 04-16-2013 10:06 PM

John, the clamps reviewed are the standard duty 3700 series.
The HD series is great but too heavy in the smaller sizes.

Willie, I haven’t had that issue with my tradesmans, I have with the hf clamps.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 2964 days

#9 posted 04-16-2013 10:43 PM

i recently purchased 4 hf 6” clamps and are impressed so far with them.
but my go-to clamps have been the jorgensen thats what i’ve been more impressed with IMHO.
i just get aggravated at the way the round swivel head will roll off when tightening down could be just me though!!!

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View mcase's profile


446 posts in 3903 days

#10 posted 04-17-2013 01:40 AM

I used to have these when they were made in the USA. Then I started filling out my collection and noticed that the new ones would jam and not slide when I pressed the release. A closer look revealed that the new ones were made in China. That was a number of years ago. I sold them all off in a lot and replaced them with German-made Besseys and never looked back.

View pimpson's profile


73 posts in 3642 days

#11 posted 04-17-2013 02:53 AM

just what i am needing to hear I am in the market for more clamps “sold”.

View derosa's profile


1597 posts in 3609 days

#12 posted 04-17-2013 03:15 AM

I haven’t seen any on the 3700s made in China yet and I was looking at some the other day in the local HD that still carries them. I’ve got my fair share of HF clamps but have only bought the Jorgensens for almost the last 2 years. They’re stronger and more reliable not to mention cheaper in price then the Chinese made bessys that Lowes sells and the irwins. Personally rather hand my cash to an American company that is producing an equal if not superior product and the orange has definitely overwhelmed the blue in my collection.

-- A posse ad esse

View vipond33's profile


1405 posts in 3271 days

#13 posted 04-17-2013 03:27 AM

Thanks for the interest and comments everyone. While this wasn’t meant to spark discussion of various brands, as it was simply my homage to an American beauty, I appreciate that there is more than one way to bring pressure to our tasks. I’ve worked with many, many other types.
The 3700 series is unequaled in my mind when working within its limitations. Light, smooth and precise, they satisfy 80% of what I need to do on a daily basis. I have massive “F” style clamps for when I need 1000 lbs of pressure at a 5” reach but they don’t have the same place in my heart as these.
One thing to keep in mind is that longer clamps are often used short and when used long are never exerted with the same force as smaller ones. In addition, make sure the screw is always kept short. You’ll bend it otherwise, just as you’ll bend the bar (any bar) when asking too much of the tool.
To answer a question, the swivel never walks if it’s a quality one and is lubricated with heavy oil. As soon as you feel roughness, add a drop and rotate it in. Poorly mated ball and socket arrangements on cheap clamps are a real terror and IMO should be taken behind the woodshed and shot.
Picture 2 shows the made in USA stamp on both old and new versions. I wouldn’t have bought them otherwise.
Some of the gang in action on a dining table edge buildup.


-- [email protected] : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

View oldnovice's profile


7561 posts in 4141 days

#14 posted 04-17-2013 04:24 AM

I have a bunch of those purchased a long time ago back in Illinois. My main issue with these is the corrosion on the bar. I used to have these in my basement shop in Illinois without any corrosion appearing but now in my garage in California there are virtually covered with a film of rust. It must be the fact that in my basement I had a dehumidifier running 24/7 but I didn’t think in the California desert I needed a dehumidifier!

I also have toe US made, no brand name on them, clamps that REALLY flex, and I mean really flex, under pressure.

Right now my OSH, Orchard Hardware Supply, store has ALL Bessy clamps for 25% off .... back in a few minutes!

-- "It's fine in practise but it will never work in theory"

View bonobo's profile


301 posts in 2830 days

#15 posted 04-17-2013 06:56 AM

Nicely written review.

-- “The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” ― Mark Twain

showing 1 through 15 of 21 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics