Irwin - Quick-Grip XP600 Clamp/Spreader (Rating: 4)

Way back when (after home ownership but before my woodworking hobby), I thought that these beefy Irwin Quick-Grip XP600 were the most awesome clamps. After all, why would I want a heavy clamp (i.e. the parallel clamps a few inches away at the big box store) where I'd have to use 2 hands?

Fast forward a few years, and I now have a more realistic perspective of these clamps. Recently, I splurged and picked up 8 of the 12" model from my local Home Depot. My decision was prompted by a mix of the BOGO deal (buy a 12" XP600, get a 12" SL300) and the liquidation that is underway during summer 2014. Overall, I am happy with the clamps for what I intend to use them for: one-handed clamping applications and when my under 12" clamping operation can benefit from the larger face than my F-style clamps.

The summary of my impressions are broken up to the good, bad (where this style of clamp may not be ideal), and the ugly (why I took off a star).

The good:
  • The 1 handed operation does make it very easy to use. Certainly easier than the many F-style clamps that I have at my disposal.
  • There is no doubt that these clamps exert a good amount of pressure. There is a night and day difference between these clamps and my other quick grip clamps (I have a few of the small ones and a few of the SL300).
  • I like the fact that there is clear feedback as you start to dial-in the clamping pressure per pull of the trigger. Specifically, there isn't a dead stop like with the other quick grip clamps.
  • In a pinch, I have used them as an alternative to parallel clamps for a glue up, thanks to the larger head spreading the clamping pressure across a larger footprint on the boards.
  • The large clamp head is great for clamping across a board lamination, keeping the boards aligned.

The bad (but not deal-breakers):
  • They are not the "most awesome clamps" as I naively once believed. That crown (in my heart at least) has been claimed by parallel clamps.
  • Despite the large clamp head, the clamping pressure is focused on the upper part of the clamp and not spread throughout the clamp head. Be careful when aligning the clamp head when using the clamps.
  • The clamp heads is almost as big as my parallel clamps, and could make it awkward to use in some applications.

The ugly:
  • At the normal price, they are very pricey, and depending on your use, it may not be the best use of your money.
  • I can't shake the feeling that the metal used for the clamp bar is cheap and of lower quality than any of my Jet, Jorgensen (F-style), or Bessey (K Body REVO) clamps (heck even my Peachtree parallel clamps). Beware of flex at longer lengths.