A barely viable alternative to the Bora, but most are duds

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Review by paxorion posted 12-15-2013 04:31 AM 22060 views 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
A barely viable alternative to the Bora, but most are duds A barely viable alternative to the Bora, but most are duds A barely viable alternative to the Bora, but most are duds Click the pictures to enlarge them

After I fitting my power tool collection with both a circular saw and router, I wanted to add a few easy to clamp edge guides to my tool collection. After playing with a variety of different edge guides in the market (Bora, Emerson, Woodriver), I settled on the Bora as the one that felt the best, given the long handle. All reviews about clamp edge tools I read highlighted the aluminum bar’s had a tendency to flex midway through a cut operation, making me think the wide track model was the better bet. However the price of the tool guide made me think “Wow, at that price, I might as well save up for a track saw”.

So enter Harbor Freight to the rescue with imitation products. After messing around with the different coupons, I picked up a 24” for $7 and a 50” for $15. As with most HF products, finding the right clamps to buy felt more like I was picking for the cream of the crap. I’ll divide up the rest of my review into 3 sections:

HF Shopping Experience: With 3 HF stores within close proximity of me, I was shocked at how painful the search for viable Clamp Edges were. Here is a synopsis of the problems I found
  1. I must have picked through at least 100 total and found at most 10 acceptable ones. Something about the mechanics of the clamp or the molds for the plastic components lead to a lot of variation between the offerings
  2. For some reason, I had better luck finding acceptable ones in the 50” range, than the 24” range.
Bora Imitation Mockery: A few of the noticeable differences compared to the Bora include:
  1. I felt like there is a lot more plastic (or lower grade) components in the HF clamp, accounting for the price difference
  2. It is significantly easier to position the clamp head on the Bora, due to a different design on the position-able clamp head, and possibly better machining for the clamp mechanism
  3. There is a night and day with the cam lever. The Bora glides down smoothly and locks firmly, whereas I suspect my HF cam level (being all plastic) will quickly wear down and need replacing.
Performance – It gets the job done: This HF clamp edge will do it’s job with a few caveats:
  1. Deflection is inevitable on longer cuts. Plan accordingly and you’ll avoid the worst of it. I’ve succeeded in making cuts up to 36” long
  2. I overcame the risk of snapping the cheap cam lever by loosely positioning the position-able clamp head, so that less stress would be placed on the cam lever when locking down
  3. At the “hefty” cost of $22 + tax, I’d say it’s pretty good bang for the buck

When the rubber hits the road, I think the the HF clamp will meet my needs for the time being. It is inexpensive and workable, if you are willing to accept the quality degradation when compared to the Bora it mimics. Would a shop-made straight-edge jig work better? I have no doubt that it would, and I am planning on making them someday when I have scraps to commit to the task.

-- paxorion

View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 2818 days

10 comments so far

View DaleM's profile


958 posts in 4157 days

#1 posted 12-15-2013 02:23 PM

I guess I got real lucky. I got the last one hanging on the rack which you would think would be the worst one after everyone else picked through them. It’s straight and the cams work well (so far). If I have to get another I’ll keep in mind that you found some bad ones and be a little more careful.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

View pintodeluxe's profile


6155 posts in 3586 days

#2 posted 12-15-2013 04:43 PM

A couple years back, the Emerson guide became wider so now it won’t flex. I have the three piece kit from Rockler, and am quite happy with it.

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

View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 2818 days

#3 posted 12-15-2013 06:51 PM

Dale – Kudos to you for the lucky snatch. I found that in most cases, the problems I found have to do with the positionable clamp head being hard to move and the fragility I saw with the cam lever. I’m convinced that I will completely wear them out rather quickly.

For anyone that is interested, to test the clamps in-store, I brought a few blocks of 2×4, and tried to clamp them up. If anything seemed off about it, I’d move on to the next one.

-- paxorion

View NormG's profile


6506 posts in 3777 days

#4 posted 12-15-2013 10:51 PM

I just at one of the local HF’s looking at these clamps today. Both long and short versions were in sad shape. Either the pads were not in good shape or the movable clamp was very hard to to adjust. There was one that someone had brought the movable pad to the level pad and locked it down. I was not able to release it, after several tries

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2545 posts in 4730 days

#5 posted 12-16-2013 12:50 PM

I’m sorry..not to be a tool snob, but with the list of shortcomings, and cheap parts.. the throw away factor of this tool is way too high, I would totally avoid it and just save my money till I could afford the real version


View lj61673's profile


271 posts in 3172 days

#6 posted 12-16-2013 02:46 PM

Me too. Time after time…each of these HF threads reach the same conclusion. You have to actually visit a store and hope they have dozens of the item you’re looking in stock. This way you can spend the afternoon removing and visually inspecting each piece in the hope that you’re lucky enough to find a single one that meets the bare minimum of acceptability.
That’s some folks idea of “good value”.

View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 2818 days

#7 posted 12-16-2013 04:31 PM

Brad and LJ – not my idea of a “good value”, but doing your own QC is a good way of killing time. I’m starting to wonder if I enjoy doing it…

-- paxorion

View Bill1974's profile


136 posts in 3758 days

#8 posted 12-16-2013 06:58 PM

I have the Bora version of these and the 50” and 36” deflect pretty easily. Especially on longer cuts. I agree that the plastic on the Bora’s feel higher quality and should last longer. But if I had to do it again, i would save toward a track saw (Bora or any other clamp edge). A piece of masonite or thin plywood and a straight piece of wood screwed and glued is a better option from my experience. The clamping on these is the only plus this has over wood and clamps. For cuts that don’t need to be perfectly straight these are okay. The wood guide has the benefit of not having to offset your measurements and reduces splintering too.

View RibsBrisket4me's profile


1554 posts in 3278 days

#9 posted 12-22-2013 02:46 AM

I have two of the HF edge guides. Also a 24inch and a 50inch. I agree with the review. They get the job done but they are not of the highest quality. Nor did I expect high quality at the price. I have to triple check my measurements when I use it but it does get the job done.

View MrRon's profile


5913 posts in 4016 days

#10 posted 01-26-2017 08:13 PM

I have both he Bora and HF guides. Deflection has never been a concern because I always apply downward pressure on the guide with one hand as I follow the saw. This has always been an automatic reaction on my part. I’ve never given thought about deflection. I use the guides to cut down sheet goods; never noticed any “curved” edges. It’s a matter of technique.

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