Quality Clamps

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Forum topic by stumpknocker posted 12-25-2010 01:04 AM 4067 views 1 time favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View stumpknocker's profile


28 posts in 3458 days

12-25-2010 01:04 AM

O.k. I have had it with cheap bargain clamps. Does anybody know who makes a “commercial” grade bar clamp? I was in a cabinet shop the other day and they had what looked like clamps that were made from cast iron or carbon steel. I have an assortment of clamps from chicago tools, home depot, lowes and other vendors from which I have made bargain buys. They bow, the slides bind and on my current project I broke two. If I have to sell the car and the dog and hock the house I am going to buy some good clamps. I need suggestions?

17 replies so far

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3484 days

#1 posted 12-25-2010 01:42 AM

Well I’m not sure exactly what kind you may be looking for, but I can offer my two cents. I’ve just about given up on most clamp types. My problem is usually stripping the threads out on them. The only clamps I have found that hold up for me are the type that screw on the ends of various size pipes.


View bobkberg's profile


439 posts in 3715 days

#2 posted 12-25-2010 02:30 AM

As with many other things, it depends – Make sure that you are using a clamp that has the appropriate strength for the job. I use many types – the quick clamp bar clamps for lighter jobs, Pony brand pipe clamps, Pony brand bar clamps, Vise-Grip swivel pad clamps.

William is right when he mentions the pipe style clamps – that’s because they use an Acme-type thread which has a large bearing surface which can hold up to high stress. Several brands make bar clamps which use those Acme-style threads.

I go by the “rule” of buying the best quality tools I can afford. Every time I try to cut corners and save money, I’m usually sorry. As for the bar and pipe clamps bending – you can minimize that by putting blocking under the long portion of the clamp where it bows when you tighten the clamp.

-- Bob - A sideline, not how I earn a living

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3652 days

#3 posted 12-25-2010 03:21 AM

It’s spendy, but I highly recommend a cabinetmaker’s set (4 clamps…2×24” and 2×40” or sometimes 2×50”) of Jet parallel clamps or Bessey K body’s. They are usually around $140-$175. Check Amazon.

Yeah, that much money for 4 clamps seems like a lot, but I can’t imagine being without them for all kinds of glueups, from cutting boards to furniture.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View syenefarmer's profile


550 posts in 3722 days

#4 posted 12-25-2010 03:37 AM

+1 on what live4ever said.

View D_Allen's profile


495 posts in 3426 days

#5 posted 12-25-2010 03:54 AM

I have some bar clamps from HF that are simply junk. I have used the Sure-Foot brand from rockler that my brother has and they are quality clamps. Sometimes you can get them on sale.
As for the pipe clamp sets, those can also be junk if you get them from the wrong place. On the one I have, which is of course not Jorgenson, I alsmost have to use a vise grip to release the sliding section.

-- Website is finally up and

View rustfever's profile


784 posts in 3952 days

#6 posted 12-25-2010 04:01 AM

Try Wetzler Clamps.

These are real clamps. Beafy. The type thing you would use to build a boat.

I purchased a half dozen each of the #4, #6, #9 clamps with steel handles about two years ago. I use them any time I need to grip and hold a project. These are not cheap, but they are good.

Order them on line. Will take a few weeks, but they do deliver a top quality clamp.

I have no interest in this company. But I’m willing to give them * [five stars!]


-- Rustfever, Central California

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3484 days

#7 posted 12-25-2010 05:06 AM

live4ever made me think about it by recommending the various sizes. With my pipe style clamps, I have many sizes from two feet all the way up to one hundred feet if I want it. Several of mine are on two foot pipes. Then I have many two foot sections of pipes with couplings on them. I can the unscrew the ends and add or remove sections to make my clamp as long or short as I need. This “system” comes out to be much cheaper than many different sized clamps.
Another point to make as far as price goes, is that you’ll get better prices on better clamps by buying used. I bought about twenty of my favorite pipe style clamps at a yard sale a couple of years ago for $20. They were all pretty old, but I’ve learned that with pipe clamps, the old ones pretty much never wear out. The worst that can happen to them is the pipe thread get worn out of you take them on and off the pipes much. Black pipe can be bought at the hardware store though for a whole lot less dough than new clamps.


View childress's profile


841 posts in 4184 days

#8 posted 12-25-2010 05:18 AM

Stump…sounds like you’re talking about Jorgensens steel I-beam clamps.

Or…if you want something even stronger and better you can always go for JLTs panel clamps
simply the best

-- Childress Woodworks

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4290 days

#9 posted 12-25-2010 08:35 AM

“Sash clamps” are pretty useful. Pipe clamps are an imitation of them.

Bar clamps with the 4” throats are versatile, but not the ideal clamp for
gluing up doors, drawers, most carcasses and wide panels. For these
applications, sash or pipe clamps are the best choices.

The k-body style clamps from different brands are exceptionally useful
as they can do the work of 1 sash clamp or two when required.
Drawback is they are heavy, which makes them a bit awkward in
glue-ups. If you are less than hale and hearty, weight may be a
factor to consider.

You can get aluminum sash clamps that are very light. I’ve never used
them. If your joints are down right, heavy clamping pressure is
usually not necessary.

I use “luthier clamps” a lot for general shop clamping – the most popular
brand is Klemsia.

View stumpknocker's profile


28 posts in 3458 days

#10 posted 12-25-2010 03:08 PM

Thanks guys, I was not familiar with a some of the names. I will start looking as soon as I finish this post. I have decided to keep the dog.

View Will Stokes's profile

Will Stokes

267 posts in 3996 days

#11 posted 12-25-2010 03:42 PM

I love my pair of Bessey pipe clamps with feet that help lift the clamp off the work surface. I wish I had several more. I have a slew of cheap HF f-style clamps but plan on upgrading to some Jet parallel clamps in the near future.

View Tony_S's profile


1090 posts in 3725 days

#12 posted 12-25-2010 04:04 PM

We run literally 1000’s of clamps in our shop in various shapes, sizes, descriptions and brands. Some of them Ive worked with for nearly 20 years (and they’re actually a few years older than that) Only one name (amongst MANY) that I would recommend without hesitation, and call NEARLY indestructible.


And ONLY the 3900 series (and higher) for hand style clamps. (below 3900 don’t hold up well)

For Bar clamps, the 7200 series “I” bar clamps.

Like I said….20 years of heavy, heavy use (and sometimes abuse) and they’ve barley let out a whimper.

-- “Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.” – Plato

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3716 days

#13 posted 12-25-2010 05:13 PM

Like others, I have a variety of clamps. Since I almost always work alone, I often like the convenience of the one-hander clamps (Irwin and Jorgensen). For strength, durability and convenience nothing beats the Besseys. Pipe clamps give me strength without spending much money but they are not as convenient to use. My ShopSmith 4 way clamps are great for gluing up panels (pressure from all 4 sides).

Don’t overlook the good old-fashion wooden screw clamps. I’ve even made some of these myself with an extra deep throat and curved jaw for a special situation. They’re easy to make and you can get the hardware on Amazon.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View PhineasWhipsnake's profile


77 posts in 3690 days

#14 posted 12-25-2010 09:15 PM

I’ve got a pretty large collection of Bessey K-Body and F-style clamps which I’ve amassed over the decades. I just checked, and all of mine are made in Germany. They’re built like tanks and I’m pretty sure they’ll outlast me and my grandkids. They can be pretty spendy, but I’ve always kept my eyes out for closeouts and sales, so I’ve never paid list price for any of them. Their Duo-Klamps are my favorites for one-handers (and are cheaper then Irwins and Jorgensens). Lately, Jet, Jorgensen, and WoodRiver/Woodcraft have made copies of the K-Bodies – the Jets were found to be superior to the Besseys by a small margin. A pet peeve of mine is buying stuff from Red China/Harbor Freight, although it’s getting hard to find any companies that don’t manufacture there.

-- Gene T

View MatthewG's profile


86 posts in 3421 days

#15 posted 12-26-2010 01:53 AM

Like childress, I think the clamps you saw were the Jorgensen steel I-beam. I used these in my dad’s business for years—they are brutally strong, brutally heavy, and just do not wear out. Can’t couple them up into longer lengths—but you would need a chain hoist to move them if you did :)

I read a FWW article saying that you could be 8000# for force from clamps like this. Not sure why you would ever need that kind of clamping pressure…


-- Matthew, from beautiful Wisconsin USA

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