Best clamps. What do you have?

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Forum topic by A Slice of Wood Workshop posted 10-11-2011 09:33 PM 16447 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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A Slice of Wood Workshop

1097 posts in 3682 days

10-11-2011 09:33 PM

Topic tags/keywords: clamps tips the good the bad the ugly

I have clamps, who doesn’t? What I am trying to do is, like all tools, better my clamp selection. I have some cheaper ones from HF and they work fine for smaller projects, but what about bigger projects. What do you use, what brand, and what pros/cons do your clamps have?

I have those black and orange bar clamps from HF. Like I said, they work good for smaller projects. One problem is though that a nut falls out after a while. Why? I don’t know, but it is kind irritating. I also have some bar clamps from Lowes that do farly well on anything under 24” (is that still considered small projects?). And of course I have some C-clamps. I think they all work the same. I don’t have anything on my bench either, but would like to add something. Any suggestions?

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19 replies so far

View ShaneA's profile


7084 posts in 3107 days

#1 posted 10-11-2011 09:44 PM

I have all types. Parrallel, f style, wood, c clamps, pipe clamps. A lot of makers as well. I find that usually I canget by with the f style. If I had the budget I would have all parrallel. But they are more spendy. As for the f style, I have no problems with the Pittsburgh clamps hf sells. Have lots, and they work well and cost little. However, I have a couple HD jorgenson f style, that are way stouter than all the others, bessey included.

View dbhost's profile


5772 posts in 3741 days

#2 posted 10-11-2011 10:09 PM

I have the blue / black F style bar clamps from HF, leaps and bounds better than the ratcheting / quick grip style HF clamps, as well as HF spring clamps, Jorgenson Pony F style bar clamps, Craftsman F style bar clamps and C clamps, as well as HF and Rockler pipe clamps… Really not much difference in any of them…

Now parallel clamps are another animal all together, and much more expensive to boot! I have read some very good things about the Wood River parallel clamps, basically old style Bessey K body clones in green…

I haven’t had a project that I couldn’t clamp up with the selection I presently have. I could use more pipe clamps, and honestly, for the price difference, between the HF pipe clamps with the feet, or the Bessey’s, I will spring for the Besseys…. Extra money well spent… But in F bar clamps, I just haven’t seen a difference…

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Don W

19331 posts in 3076 days

#3 posted 10-11-2011 10:56 PM

mostly pony bar clamps. I just bought 15 or 20 more at a flea market for $40 with 4’ pipes.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7797 posts in 3423 days

#4 posted 10-11-2011 11:09 PM

My HF clamps on larger pieces do NOT work as well/long and begin to slip—marginal

I use Jorgensen bar clamps—good to very good
Jorgensen Hand screw Clamps

and for larger work
Jorgensen Cabinet Master Parallel clamps—very good/excelllent

FWIW, I bought all my Jorgensen clamps at the local HD.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View measure2x's profile


50 posts in 3642 days

#5 posted 10-11-2011 11:19 PM

I have some bar clamps, Irwin smaller clamps, sears, etc. I bought some Bessy Clamps at a wood show and they are the best. I would go with the Bessy … easy to adjust, good footprint…

this link work…


-- Terry, Fredericton, NB Canada

View KBX500's profile


35 posts in 3071 days

#6 posted 10-11-2011 11:33 PM

I have the same collection of clamps that everyone else has.
C-clamps, F-clamps, pipe clamps, hand clamps, parallel clamps, etc.
They all have a particular usage that I prefer them for and I wouldn’t
want to do without any of them. Especially the parallel clamps, they’ve
really made life much easier.

If you’re persistent, and quick, you’ll find like new Bessey parallel clamps
on Craigslist for nearly half off. It’s the preferred clamp for guys with
money who want to try woodworking, but move on to something else.

I have a set of Quik-Grip Horsepower clamps that I adapted to an old
computer terminal table to make a Black & Decker Workmate style
clamping table. It might be the best tool in my shop Much stronger
and more stable than any Workmate I’ve seen. The clamps were $20
years ago, but I haven’t seen them in a store in years. I’d love to find
some more of them.

View KBX500's profile


35 posts in 3071 days

#7 posted 10-11-2011 11:43 PM

You might find this thread helpful.

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3480 days

#8 posted 10-12-2011 01:12 AM

My biggest frustration with clamps is when my parts want to float on the glue and slide around. the parallel clamps don’t do this as bad as the others, but it still happens. Sometimes, if it’s where it won’t show, I put a 23ga pin or two in the parts to hold them in alignment.

- I only have 4 Jorgensen, parallel type, Cabinet Master clamps because I can do the same job with pipe clamps, but wanted a few just to see why a clamp could sell for $50. Be very careful how you pick these suckers up. I have had the clamp head slide down the bar and pinch the crap out of my hand. Twice. They stay on the wall now mostly.
- I have about 6 Jorgensen “Pony” pipe clamps, and many different pipes to use them with.
- Then I have about 4 of each size Jorgensen “F” style clamps, from 6” through 48”. Standard duty up to 18”, then Heavy duty from 12” thru 36”. These are my second most used clamps.
- I have a dozen or so of the HF “f” style. They are ok, just a little jerky to adjust, not smooth gliding like the Jorgensen.
- I have about 8 of the speed clamps, different brands, don’t really like them except for the big X600 series by Irwin and they cost as much as a good parallel cabinet clamp so what’s the purpose?
- Then I have 8 “C” clamps each of 2”. 3”, 4” ,6” and a couple of 8”. Use these more than anything else. The “C” clamps are all different brands. I like the HF the best because they are cheap and work just as well as the better brands.
- Oh yeah, I almost forgot, I have 6 of those wooden screw clamps. Don’t know why, they just look good in a wood shop.

Most of my clamp money was spent on Jorgensen because I like seeing “MADE in USA” stamped on the bars. And being from Tennessee maybe it’s partially because they are Orange.

View knotscott's profile


8332 posts in 3884 days

#9 posted 10-12-2011 02:34 AM

Jet and Stanley parallel bar clamps are my best and favorite clamps, but I own and use a variety of the Pittsburg bar clamps from HF for smaller things (the metal ones that tighten with the threaded screw, not the black/orange plastic quick grip type)...they’re very inexpensive and work well. For my largest projects I use Pony pipe clamps.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View HorizontalMike's profile


7797 posts in 3423 days

#10 posted 10-12-2011 04:10 AM

FWIW, the screw clamps really do come in handy, much more than you may realize just looking at them. They are much more versatile than you can imagine, IMO.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Vrtigo1's profile


434 posts in 3500 days

#11 posted 10-12-2011 06:04 AM

I have two of the black and orange HF bar clamps and think they’re complete garbage. I got them for christmas from a family member who shops at HF often for automotive stuff. A lot of their stuff is OK, but I wouldn’t recommend these to anyone. Their clamping ability / clamping pressure seems much worse than the 1st generation irwin quick grip clamps which they look like they are designed to compete with. I have a bunch of the quick grip clamps and use them all the time for holding stuff down or when face gluing two pieces together. I don’t use them for that because I think they’re the best clamp for the job, just because I don’t have a lot of clamps so I tend to use everything I’ve got.

All in all I would recommend the quick grips, they’re really handy to have around. My parallel jaw clamps are jorgensen from home depot and I have no complaints, although if I were buying more I would probably buy jet clamps, they seem to be the best. I also have a lot of the bessey f style clamps and like those as well.

View Retrowood's profile


117 posts in 2928 days

#12 posted 10-12-2011 07:14 AM

I have several Orange K-Body Bessey clamps in both 12” & 24”, Jorgenson Wood crank style clamps and I-beams. Toss in a couple Clamp-its in 18” and 36” and several basic Iron C-Clamps and a bunch of large spring clamps.
I have not had to buy anything in a while, so I guess I’m good to go

-- Retrowood

View A Slice of Wood Workshop's profile

A Slice of Wood Workshop

1097 posts in 3682 days

#13 posted 10-13-2011 01:20 AM

I have some of those pittsburgh clamps. They are the 36” ones. When I was tightening them down the bar always seemed to bend, maybe i’m just tightening them down too much.

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View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4636 days

#14 posted 10-13-2011 01:23 AM

I usually use hemp rope, cauls and wedges – Japanese style.

-- 温故知新

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A Slice of Wood Workshop

1097 posts in 3682 days

#15 posted 10-13-2011 01:24 AM

@hobomonk- That would be an interesting way to clamp things

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showing 1 through 15 of 19 replies

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