Harbor Freight Bar Clamps

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Review by PCorl posted 04-26-2009 05:27 PM 12615 views 1 time favorited 51 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Harbor Freight Bar Clamps No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

First off I agree with some here at LJ that Harbor Freight makes some real junk. I also agree with some here at LJ that Harbor Freight makes some pretty good stuff.

I have been using Harbor Freight (Pittsburgh) F style bar clamps for some time now and am totally satisfied with them. For the cost they can’t be beat. When they aren’t on sale they range in price from $2.99 for a 6” clamp to $9.99 for the 36” model. On sale they are cheaper yet, I think I paid $1.99 for my 6” clamps on sale.

These clamps operate smoothly, clamp positively, and don’t seem to flex. I have only used the 6” and the 18” size and have no complaints. I gave them a 5 star rating because for the price they work great. Are they as good as a Bessey clamp? Probably not. Are they a low cost alternative that do what they are supposed to do? Absolutely.

View PCorl's profile


65 posts in 4153 days

51 comments so far

View Tim Scoville's profile

Tim Scoville

97 posts in 4108 days

#1 posted 04-26-2009 09:45 PM

I have also bought these and used them extensively. Many I took with me to Cambodia, because they just couldn’t be found in the market place except in ones or twos at prices twice what we pay at HF and used!

Anyway, on a recent return trip, about 1/3 of these were rendered useless because the threaded handles were slipping in the threads and would not hold. However, I know these guys overtighten EVERYTHING and am sure that it contributed to their demise. I have not had the same experiences with mine, both these and the ones with the extruded aluminum bars and blue clamp ends. I don’t go anywhere else for my wood clamps.

-- Tim S, AZ

View douglbe's profile


373 posts in 4734 days

#2 posted 04-27-2009 01:24 AM

I agree, I can’t afford to buy the major brand clamps and I also have exclusively clamps from HF and they have not failed me. They do everything I want them to do. Good review.

-- Doug, Reed City, Michigan

View blhineline's profile


2 posts in 4103 days

#3 posted 04-27-2009 01:38 AM

I have a pair of 12” clamps – black with orange caps and they seem to work great. I have not had any issues with them although I have not used them a ton yet. They seem like they will hold up for a while.

-- Brian, Raleigh, NC

View doctortommy's profile


8 posts in 4113 days

#4 posted 04-27-2009 02:04 AM

I too use hf when ever possible they do what they are supposed to do have not had a prob yet
hope they hold out till i can get the chanceto purchase some ponys!

a cold day in the garage is better than a warm night by the fire!

-- doctortommy, michigan

View USCJeff's profile


1065 posts in 4841 days

#5 posted 04-27-2009 02:09 AM

I’ve had many fail after a year or so of casual use. Not a big downside given the costs. I’ve had more problems with their quick clamp knock offs. Again, cheap, so they still have a use in my shop. The pipe clamps are a little hit and miss as well. The threading is a little rough

-- Jeff, South Carolina

View AaronK's profile


1511 posts in 4237 days

#6 posted 04-27-2009 02:37 AM

to add my 2 cents about these and other HF clamps:

these F clamps are probably their best. i began to strip the threads a tiny bit on one, but i think i was overtightening it a lot. otherwise they’ve served me well so far. The salesman at HF told me that the “pittsburgh” tools line has a similar warranty to craftsman – if they break, bring em in for a free replacement. he didn’t seem to be bull__ either.

stay away from the “black with orange cap” quick clamps unless you get them on sale AND are sure to use them with only mild pressure – those heads snap off like that!

pipe clamp – agree with Jeff here. the threads are a bit funny. you can often get better quality pipe clamps from normal brands for just a bit more, so its probably more worth it to pass on these.

aluminum bar clamps – overall ok, except for an awful tendency of the screw part to break inside the moving clamp head, causing endless frustration but not really affecting clamping ability.

with the exception of the F style clamps I think its best to wait until any of these are on massive sale, otherwise the frustrations dont really pay.

View Bureaucrat's profile


18341 posts in 4425 days

#7 posted 04-27-2009 02:58 AM

I use all the sizes of the HF F style clamps and love the short ones. I get a lot of flex on the 36 inch variety, but for the price, if I don’t over tighten, they work.
I have had nothing but bad luck with the black and orange quick clamps. I got a bunch on sale in a variety of sizes. Turns out that they were not such a good deal after all.

-- Gary D.

View Chris's profile


340 posts in 4131 days

#8 posted 04-27-2009 03:45 AM

I have some of the F styles as well, and got rid of the black and orange quick clamps after the first one broke. HF is ok for some stuff, but I don’t think I’d feel comfortable buying an expensive piece of equipment from them.

-- Chris

View AaronK's profile


1511 posts in 4237 days

#9 posted 04-27-2009 03:51 AM

someone (us?) should make a guide to good deals at HF as well as a “not recommended” list. that would be nice. some sort of user edited review list.

View childress's profile


841 posts in 4315 days

#10 posted 04-27-2009 07:20 AM

I have some of thier (discontinued) parrallel bar clamps and they work good. But, I bought some of these one listed here last year and on all four of them, the threads have stripped, so I can’t tighten them at all.

-- Childress Woodworks

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3810 posts in 4795 days

#11 posted 04-27-2009 04:59 PM

I found these newer ones and picked up 4 of them.
Should have bought more.
They are really handly for lighter work and seem a better design on the bar to grab the locks.

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 4358 days

#12 posted 04-27-2009 05:08 PM

I bought some Axminster power tools cope of bessey clamps they just broke within minutes of using looked great but were junk so the message is don’t waste money on cheap clamps their useless mostly.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View odie's profile


1692 posts in 4613 days

#13 posted 04-27-2009 07:18 PM

I have and use 40 of these clamps. You can’t beat them for the price.

-- Odie, Confucius say, "He who laughs at one's self is BUTT of joke". (my funny blog)

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 5087 days

#14 posted 04-27-2009 07:24 PM

You guys are voting with your dollars. Will your grandsons ever hold one of these in his hands dreaming of making something with his own hands?
My question is just what price are you really paying?

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3810 posts in 4795 days

#15 posted 04-27-2009 07:44 PM

I figure that if he gets up at 5:30 dress and goes out and delivers 155 newpapers before school then goes back to collect from the subscribers after school he should be able to make a sound decision for himself.

Besides, when I die I want everybody to be unhappy , not just me!


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

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