Harbor Freight - 3/4" Pipe Clamp with Base (Rating: 5)

The HF 3/4" Pipe Clamp with Base fixture is probably the only of my many HF acquisitions that has never given me a problem. After discovering the inadequacies of F-style clamps in the greater than 12" range (too much flex), I took the road traveled by many a woodworker before me and began looking to pipe clamps. I began pricing out Jorgensen Pony pipe clamp fixtures and found them to be a bit more expensive than I had anticipated, so I took a chance and bought 1 fixture from HF ($10 + 20% off = $8). After the first 2 acquisitions, I also got 2 Jorgensen's (from Ace Hardware for $9.50 each - details about this price in my review), and did a quick comparison. After threading on a pipe, positioning the clamp heads, and tightening down (slowly), my unscientific test showed no difference in the clamps doing what I want them to. All 4 clamps closed up the gaps nicely and kept my edge joining glue-up nice and tight. I do realize that the Bessey H-style pipe clamp fixture would likely be the better comparison, but after acquiring a total of 8 pipe clamp fixtures (4 HF, and 4 Jorgensen Pony), I've opted to not spend my money on any more pipe clamp fixtures. Any negatives that I can speak to are shared amongst both brands of pipe clamps that I have, such as:
  • Being heavy once the black iron pipe is added
  • Ease of marring the wood being clamped
  • Risk of staining the wood that is clamped

Given my less than favorable review of the HF F-style clamps, I want to address each of the points that made me dock points for the "HF F-style clamps", and why these clamps deserve the 5-star rating:
  1. HF Quality control has little room for failure with these - Of the 4 fixtures I purchased (2 sight unseen from their website), none of my fixtures has disappointed me. The clamp screws in and out without any drama.
  2. I understand pipe clamps to be notorious at marring wood, so I always use cauls and wooden spacers with pipe clamps
  3. No signs of wear and tear. Note that the casting of the material does seem a bit rougher than my Jorgensen Pony clamps, but that hasn't in any way affected the clamps equal standing in my shop

While I have since begun my parallel clamp collection, I think the HF and my Jorgensen Pony clamps will be used interchangeably when I exhaust my parallel clamps depending on the situation:
  • If I need to set the pipe clamps down to position the work pieces, I'll use the HF
  • If the work piece is already stationary, I'll use the Jorgensen Pony