Quick Release Clamps: Jorgensen vs. Harbor Freight

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Review by SirFatty posted 08-25-2013 09:34 PM 15760 views 0 times favorited 48 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Quick Release Clamps:  Jorgensen vs. Harbor Freight Quick Release Clamps:  Jorgensen vs. Harbor Freight Quick Release Clamps:  Jorgensen vs. Harbor Freight Click the pictures to enlarge them

I recently purchased some Harbor Freight clamps that are still on sale, “12 clamps, “18 clamps and “36 clamps (the picture shows the 36” as yellow, but they are blue in the store). Decided to go with these because, quite honestly, they look almost exactly like Jorgensen clamps. The main difference, besides the cost, is the plastic/rubberized grip versus the Jorgensen’s hardwood.

Although the castings are a bit rough, there’s no doubt where the Harbor Freight clamp manufacturer got their inspiration. Here’s the clamp body:

The threads are similar, as are the pads. The quick release mechanism looks the same, but the Jorgensen is much smoother.

The jaws are nearly identical.

The clamps are quite good actually, I like the rubberized grip better than the hardwood, but I suspect it won’t last as long (I’ve had the Jorgensens for 20 years with little in the way of wear). Time will tell. But since the HF clamps are on sale, that makes them about a third of the cost of a Jorgy.

I used them on the miniature dresser project, right next the their orange counterpart, and they worked just as well. Torqued down, the bar showed little in the way of bending or deflection. The threaded screw turns smoothly, but the quick release is better on the Jorgensen.

I think it’s a great value, just make sure to clean off the packing oil from the plastic pads. Dinged a star due to the quick release issue.

Thanks for looking!


-- Visit my blog at

View SirFatty's profile


547 posts in 3374 days

48 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118163 posts in 4739 days

#1 posted 08-25-2013 09:53 PM

Thanks for you review Dave.


View Grandpa's profile


3264 posts in 3837 days

#2 posted 08-25-2013 09:55 PM

Thanks for the review. Very informative.

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10963 posts in 5214 days

#3 posted 08-25-2013 09:58 PM

Do they say if they were Made in China?

Looks like someone is ripping OFF Jorgensen… typical move that China would make…

Glad you like them…

I have used their bar clamps for a long time… they always seem to work just fine…

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 3352 days

#4 posted 08-25-2013 10:59 PM

great review,i have the 12” and they work time i go to hf i’m gonna pick-up some more.

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View Holbs's profile


2380 posts in 3191 days

#5 posted 08-25-2013 11:42 PM

one thing i have learned about products made in china (tools or household goods)... they might “LOOK” identical down to a fine detail to another pricier item made in another country (i guess it’s easy to copy based off any picture), but the quality assurance of the manufacturing, the engineering, the material is 3rd world country.

when i need something quickly, i can goto a store and buy something made in china with 80/20 odds to last a year or two tops. when i buy the original item, 80/20 odds to last 10+years.

all of the reviews of wood working items i see here from products made in china… they sure work and look great freshly bought from a store. a year or two later?

-- The Carpenter Bee is derived from the Ancient Greek word wood-cutter "xylokopos/ξυλοκὀπος"

View TechRedneck's profile


770 posts in 4019 days

#6 posted 08-26-2013 01:17 AM

When I started out, I picked up a bunch of cheap clamps, they worked ok until… I got my hands on some Jorgies. When you get a small collection of clamps going (never have enough) you will find that you always go for the good quality ones. For me, that bright orange always gets pulled off the rack first.

When given the choice, I would rather buy one good clamp NOW instead of going for a deal and getting three knock offs for the same price. BUT… when you are starting out and money is tight I would also recommend you get the tolerable and decent cheaper ones. Reason being, they work fine and do the job.

Having one or two quality clamps when you really need four just doesn’t cut it. I am sure many of us here have some cheap clamps and once we have enough we start to acquire the quality ones (and use them more). I would not be ashamed to have some of these hanging on the rack. The more the better, but we all know a quality tool with smooth action is worth the extra cost in the long run.

thank you for the review.

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

View doubleDD's profile


10516 posts in 3205 days

#7 posted 08-26-2013 02:00 AM

I bought a dozen or so of these awhile back on sale. Being in need of a lot of clamps suddenly made these a logical choice. I have no regrets ever buying them and could almost say there just as good as its cousin.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View NiteWalker's profile


2743 posts in 3739 days

#8 posted 08-26-2013 02:49 AM

I got a group of the blue hf clamps, and have used the jorgensen 3700 series clamps.
Both are ok, not great IMHO. The hf clamps are well worth the price.

My go to clamps are now bessey tradesmans. They’re light years ahead of both.

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

View WayneC's profile


14359 posts in 5259 days

#9 posted 08-26-2013 02:52 AM

I try to find my clamps at the flea markets and such. I come across the Jorgies quite often. I would be curious how you like them in a year or so after you have done a number of projects.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View FirehouseWoodworking's profile


788 posts in 4435 days

#10 posted 08-26-2013 03:28 AM

Thanks for the great review Dave. I would echo many of the comments already provided. However there is one difference in my opinion – and in my experienced – that you may have missed.

Take a look at the two comparison pictures that show the screw threads of both clamps. The Jorgenson clamp uses “Acme” threads while the HF uses standard threads. Acme threads don’t come to a sharp edge or ridge, They are flat at the top or edge of the thread.

My understanding is that these types of threads have a much greater strength because each thread winding in relatively thicker. You will probably find these on your adjustment wheels on your table saw. Likely also on other heavy duty machinery.

My experience backs this up. I have had a HF clamp strip out and the threads failed. Granted, I still thought I had gotten my money’s worth and still do have some HF clamps that I tend to use only when I run out of others. That, along with the comment already mentioned on the quick release levers, the machining is second rate. But again, given the cost, these HF clamps do have their place.

Thanks again, Dave. Cheers!

-- Dave; Lansing, Kansas

View tefinn's profile


1222 posts in 3599 days

#11 posted 08-26-2013 03:36 AM

I find my HF clamps are good for most jobs where you don’t need extreme clamping pressure. They have a tendancy to strip or bend if put under to much stress. I’ld probably never use them for cutting boards or big panel glue ups, but for boxes and such they’re great! Just make sure when you buy any that you check the straightness of the clamp heads and bars in the store. I’ve seen some on the shelves that look like a banana, especially any over 18”!

-- Tom Finnigan - Measures? We don't need no stinking measures! - Hmm, maybe thats why my project pieces don't fit.

View sgmdwk's profile


308 posts in 3034 days

#12 posted 08-26-2013 03:56 AM

I have Jorgenson clamps I have had for 25 years. I have HF clamps I have had for 15 years. I use them the same. If I were selecting clamps from a display of Jorgenson clamps I would grab them without looking closely, confident of their quality. At HF, I would inspect each clamp carefully. Some of them are cast poorly, I have found. Once they pass that initial inspection, I have found HF clamps to perform just fine.

-- Dave K.

View CharlesA's profile


3466 posts in 2959 days

#13 posted 08-26-2013 04:59 AM

I have some HF pistol grip clamps that I hate—awkward and cheap. I only use them when I’ve run out of everything else. OTOH, I picked up some of these HF bar clamps a month or two ago and I’m very pleased with them. I’d buy more.

-- "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 Albe's profile


228 posts in 3173 days

#14 posted 08-26-2013 11:01 AM

Being a hobbyist i have used several of the HF bar clamps for over ten years and have no complaints. Do not have any of the Jorgenson type clamps but if money was no object I would proably go that way. As Charles mentioned the HF pistol grip clamps similiar to Irwin are not very good. The ones I bought broke after a few years and never had much clamping pressure.

-- Be yourself everyone else is already taken.

View dustyal's profile


1322 posts in 4637 days

#15 posted 08-26-2013 01:21 PM

My Harbor Freight clamp will bend in the middle of the bar whereas I did not have as much bend in a Jorgensen. I am thinking the steel bar might be a bit sturdier. However, I’m not sure how often I really need that much force as I am a hobbyist. Costs are being cut somewhere… China labor and quality of materials…

To each their own… I can get by with HF but prefer Jorgensen.

-- Al H. - small shop, small projects...

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