worn-out bar clamps

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Forum topic by BigNate78 posted 11-26-2014 01:02 AM 1649 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 2304 days

11-26-2014 01:02 AM

Any one know of a way of getting old bar clamps to re-grab the bar? mine seem to be slipping as i tighten them…

14 replies so far

View buildingmonkey's profile


242 posts in 2560 days

#1 posted 11-26-2014 01:11 AM

I have some old Sears pipe clamps I have to hold onto the clamp as I tighten them. Think I’ll give them to my SIL.

-- Jim from Kansas

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 3459 days

#2 posted 11-26-2014 01:32 AM

The cheaper type of pipe clamps have ratcheting gears with springs to push them tight against the pipe ,as they get old the gears wear out and don’t grab the pipe as they should,I find switching to black pipes will help but over all I would invest in the better clamps like bessy/pony which have clutch plates ,they perform better and are more reliable.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View Mark Davisson's profile

Mark Davisson

598 posts in 4330 days

#3 posted 11-26-2014 02:05 AM

With mine, I have found that “roughing up” the bar, itself, helps. I’ll take a file to mine about once a year – but it doesn’t take much.

-- I'm selfless because it feels so good!

View altendky's profile


169 posts in 3223 days

#4 posted 11-26-2014 11:33 AM

For either the ‘ratcheting gear’ or ‘clutch plate’ type I would expect that what has changed is that the sharp edges that actually grip the pipe or bar have dulled over the years. I would suggest sharpening them up with a file and see if it helps and how long. Note that this is not written from experience in fixing this issue, just sharing some thoughts.

View MrRon's profile


5994 posts in 4256 days

#5 posted 11-26-2014 07:41 PM

Try one of these re-threading files on the bar of the clamp. You just take a few strokes to put a thread like impression on the bar edge. I assume you are talking about the rectangular bar type clamps; not the pipe type.

View BigNate78's profile


10 posts in 2304 days

#6 posted 11-27-2014 05:26 AM

I’m talking f-bar clamps….and the screw part grabs…seems the clutch plate keeps sliding as I tighten it..or try to I should say…The few of the jorgensen clamps i have don ‘t have any ridges in the bar and they are the best ones….the old ones…the next best are the brand new jorgensen’s, then the cheap tool shop brand I just got a few months ago…then there is the dreaded grey f-bar clamps from menards…..the no-name ones….those are taking craps on me left and right…..where do I turn for good clamps? Do i bite the bullet and by a set of bessy’s or a $400 set of jorgensens? Or do I just make a bunch? Maybe I’ll just make a bunch instead of wasting money.

View Don W's profile

Don W

19893 posts in 3580 days

#7 posted 11-27-2014 12:03 PM

I’ve found black pipe works better than galvanized.

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

View rantingrich's profile


372 posts in 2358 days

#8 posted 11-27-2014 12:13 PM

Black pipe has a coating of what is referred to as “JAPAN BLACK” its a tar like coating. I used laquar thinner and course steel wool to scrub it off. I do this before I turn them into bar clamps. Not only does the coating act as a lubricant and lets the clamp slide, it also get on your project.

I know this won’t do anything for worn out old pipe but just saying

-- Rich

View REO's profile


929 posts in 3086 days

#9 posted 11-27-2014 02:15 PM

not sure what type of bar clamp you have. still thinking possibly pipe clamp but either way if you can slide the moveable portion off and flip the locking plate or plates over they will grip again. you will be working on a fresh new edge. not all will be conducive to this.

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 3459 days

#10 posted 11-27-2014 04:44 PM

Bignate,all of us got it wrong it seems,if you are talking about F clamps with clutch plates,the plates most likely have worn out,see if you can remove the whole screw side from the bar and file the plates a bit at a time,try and see if grabs better,if not,do a bit clamps have low grade plates and wear out sooner than they should.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4590 days

#11 posted 11-27-2014 05:15 PM

I agree galvanized pipe tends to chips and lets the clamps slip after a time. I’ve never found that clamps slip or a need to remove the black coating off of my pipe clamps in close to 30 years of use.


View upchuck's profile


540 posts in 2677 days

#12 posted 11-29-2014 02:14 AM

BigNate 78-

If we are talking about standard “f” clamps with clutch plates…?

I think that the clutch plates are what keeps the sliding head from sliding when there is pressure applied. I’ve heard that flipping the clutch plates over will give a fresh edge to the plates where they rub/pinch against the bar of the clamp. I’d try that first. Second, I’d try to roughen up the edges of the bar with sandpaper.

Good Luck


View BigNate78's profile


10 posts in 2304 days

#13 posted 11-29-2014 05:48 AM

Thanks for all the input folks…I’ll give all advice given a fair shake…

View matador8's profile


27 posts in 2828 days

#14 posted 11-29-2014 08:51 AM

Hi BigNate,

What I did with my bar clamps to make them re-grab is I got the hacksaw and cut groves right along the bar.
But I also sharpen up the teeth on the lock down so it grabs. It works great now. I hope that helps.

Cheers Graham.

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