Good, Better, Bessey

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Review by pintodeluxe posted 10-14-2014 09:10 PM 7774 views 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Good, Better, Bessey Good, Better, Bessey Good, Better, Bessey Click the pictures to enlarge them

Good, Better, Bessey
A Look at the Current Bessey Parallel Clamp Lineup
Looking at parallel clamps side-by-side, some features are instantly apparent. Bar size, jaw surface area, and handle diameter are all key to clamp performance. The handle material made a difference in my testing as well.

The UniClamp is the smallest parallel clamp, with a lightweight bar to match. The jaw faces are small compared to other clamps in this class, but compare favorably to “F” style clamps. The handle diameter is 15/16”, which is too small for heavy clamping tasks. The threads on all of these clamps are well machined and operate smoothly. However, the short painted wooden handles lack sufficient friction for confident clamping. The UniClamps are the only clamp in this test which do not include replaceable jaw caps. However I didn’t find the plastic clamp body marred hardwood.

Small handles are a limiting factor for the UniClamps

The Revo Jr. clamps are a significant upgrade from the UniClamps. They feature replaceable jaw caps, a larger clamp bar, and larger handles. The handles are painted wood, however the Revo Jr. overcomes this by the longer, larger diameter handles. The Revo Jr.’s can close all but the most difficult mortise and tenon joints. They are lighter in weight than the full size Revo clamps, which may be a consideration if you are lifting and moving them all day long. The heads on the Revo Jr. clamps are canted slightly, so that only the tips of the clamps meet. They are engineered this way so that once full clamping pressure is engaged, the jaw faces become
parallel. A clever trick indeed, which allows the bars to be lighter yet still provide adequate
clamping in most situaions. The bar size of the Revo Jr. is somewhere between the UniClamp and the full size
Revo. I found it a good compromise for both strength and ease of use.

The Bessey Revo clamp stands out from the crowd for several reasons, the most important being handle size. With a generous 1-5/16” diameter rubber handle, it’s easy to get a good grip. The Revo handle is 4-1/2” long – a full inch longer than the Revo Jr. I was also pleasantly surprised how easily
these clamps disengaged, no doubt a product of the large well-machined threads. The jaw on
the Revo is larger than the other clamps tested, measuring 5-3/4”long by a full 2” wide. That
extra size makes it quick and easy to direct the clamping pressure where it is needed. Even stubborn joints closed fully with the Revo clamps. Levering the handle towards the bar helps to engage the clamp head quickly. The robust bar measures 1-1/8” by a full 3/8” thick, and didn’t exhibit any notable flex with
a 24” clamp. Only slight deflection was noted on the 40” Revos, and it did not affect clamping performance.

A handy stand-off clip keeps the Revo clamps flat with your workbench. The clip can be removed to convert the clamp to a spreader. The Revos also come with spacers to keep glue soaked boards off the clamp bars, however I found myself removing these spacers for easier storage in a clamp rack.
An optional extender is available to connect two lengths of clamp together(Bessey product KBX20).
Although my focus is on parallel clamps, I must give honorable mention to the rack of Bessey “H” style pipe clamps that have been workhorses in my shop for years. I prefer the lighter ½” versions that attach to threaded iron pipe in various lengths. These clamps are still my choice for panel glueups, and applications when you don’t need the extra reach of a large clamp head.

In the final analysis, I feel that every shop would benefit from parallel clamps. The Revo Jr’s are perfect for mid-sized glueups, while the full sized Revo will tackle any job. I recommend starting with some 24” parallel clamps, and add 40” clamps as they are required. For the few jobs where longer clamps are necessary, an extender can link two clamps together.

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

View pintodeluxe's profile


6149 posts in 3581 days

7 comments so far

View Jerry's profile


3388 posts in 2416 days

#1 posted 10-15-2014 12:58 AM

This is a great review, Willie, BTW, how on EARTH do you afford these things?

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be.

View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 2813 days

#2 posted 10-15-2014 02:54 AM

I agree with your post. About half of my parallel clamps are Bessey K Body REVOs. Overall I like them as a very close 2nd to my Jets. Another clamp to consider are the Peachtree parallel clamps which I prefer over the REVO Jrs. They’re comparable in weight, function, and price but have a larger head and a smoother operation.

-- paxorion

View BigRedKnothead's profile


8573 posts in 2750 days

#3 posted 10-15-2014 03:24 AM

Nice review Willie. I dig my Jorgy’s, but those big rubber handles do look nice;0

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View timbertailor's profile


1594 posts in 2192 days

#4 posted 10-15-2014 04:16 AM

Great review.

You can never have too many clamps and you can not go wrong with Besseys.

-- Brad, Texas,

View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 2813 days

#5 posted 10-15-2014 01:06 PM

Nice review Willie. I dig my Jorgy s, but those big rubber handles do look nice;0

- BigRedKnothead

The Bessey 2K handle is by far my favorite clamp handle. The Jet does have a bigger handle that helps me get a grip, but I find that it is more slippery. The PeachTree also has a nice plastic/composite handle, albeit smaller.

-- paxorion

View Marcus's profile


1165 posts in 2787 days

#6 posted 10-16-2014 12:59 PM

I go back and forth between loving my Besseys and my Jorgy’s more. I like using the Jorgy’s more, but absolutely love the big rubber handle of the Bessey’s. Can’t go wrong w/ either in my opinion.

View Roger's profile


21030 posts in 3572 days

#7 posted 10-19-2014 11:47 PM

Yep, what Jerry said.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

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