Bombarde16

Irwin 180" Band Clamp

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Is it really that bad?

5ac645897ccd4_Irwinclamp.jpg.06701a510c247ea27334477197420a32.jpg

This is the small, blue strap clamp available on the shelf at Lowe's.  It's been generally panned in online reviews, with folks recommending the popular red strap clamp by Bessey instead.  I had two of those Bessey strap clamps but lost them in a shop move.  Moreover, while I liked the Bessey's large handle to apply clamping pressure, I was never fond of the little plastic fishing reel thingy needed to retract the strap.

So, despite the online naysayers and perhaps as a gamble with the coupon Lowe's sent me, I decided to give it a try.  Project for today is to frame some of my grandfather's old watercolors.  The material I'm using is some junk fir salvaged from a remodeling project.  I cut the miters on a decent quality SCMS but these are by no means the best joints the world has even seen and the fir probably has some different ideas about things like "flat" or "square".  Each miter has a #20 biscuit inside.

IMG_20180405_105412.thumb.jpg.efa1cf5fa9163d99638f4e44e1a3c53f.jpg

I've never used this style of clamp before but was able to figure out that the strap goes through the slot in the spindle.  Strap clamps are generally a pain to get situated but the metal corners on this one held fine.  As you can see, I used it to get things most of the way there.  Then I hit it with a quartet of F-style clamps to drive things home.  After the glue had set, the lever released just fine, a task criticized by other reviewers.  The one danger seems to be winding too much strap onto the spindle, at which point it does get tough to release and could potentially slip off the side and get jammed between the body and the spindle.

I bought this clamp fully expecting that it could just go right back to the store.  But, overall, I'm happy enough with this clamp that it's staying in my shop.  Using it on this project makes me think that it'll be better for larger glue-ups than for small projects where space is tight.  It's $10 cheaper than my previous Bessey but seems to do the job well enough.

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Is it really that bad?
5ac645897ccd4_Irwinclamp.jpg.06701a510c247ea27334477197420a32.jpg
This is the small, blue strap clamp available on the shelf at Lowe's.  It's been generally panned in online reviews, with folks recommending the popular red strap clamp by Bessey instead.  I had two of those Bessey strap clamps but lost them in a shop move.  Moreover, while I liked the Bessey's large handle to apply clamping pressure, I was never fond of the little plastic fishing reel thingy needed to retract the strap.
So, despite the online naysayers and perhaps as a gamble with the coupon Lowe's sent me, I decided to give it a try.  Project for today is to frame some of my grandfather's old watercolors.  The material I'm using is some junk fir salvaged from a remodeling project.  I cut the miters on a decent quality SCMS but these are by no means the best joints the world has even seen and the fir probably has some different ideas about things like "flat" or "square".  Each miter has a #20 biscuit inside.
IMG_20180405_105412.thumb.jpg.efa1cf5fa9163d99638f4e44e1a3c53f.jpg
I've never used this style of clamp before but was able to figure out that the strap goes through the slot in the spindle.  Strap clamps are generally a pain to get situated but the metal corners on this one held fine.  As you can see, I used it to get things most of the way there.  Then I hit it with a quartet of F-style clamps to drive things home.  After the glue had set, the lever released just fine, a task criticized by other reviewers.  The one danger seems to be winding too much strap onto the spindle, at which point it does get tough to release and could potentially slip off the side and get jammed between the body and the spindle.
I bought this clamp fully expecting that it could just go right back to the store.  But, overall, I'm happy enough with this clamp that it's staying in my shop.  Using it on this project makes me think that it'll be better for larger glue-ups than for small projects where space is tight.  It's $10 cheaper than my previous Bessey but seems to do the job well enough.
Looks good, although I'm not sure the F clamps are really needed. But on the infrequent occasions I need one, I grab one of my cargo clamping bands that I got from Harbor Freight several years ago. Pack of four for nearly half the price of the Irwin, and make my own corner blocks from scrap wood. (I actually used them as cargo tie-downs once, and several other uses after that.)

Sent from my VS995 using Tapatalk

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Looks like a regular ratchet strap.  We use a lot of them for tying down things on trailers, including big loads of hay, and lumber with 3" wide ones.

The biggest trouble I see with ratchet straps is that people don't understand how to release them.   There is a mechanism that lets you straighten out the handle, which disengages the pawl in the gear.  That mechanism doesn't release the tension on the strap from being wound around the spool, which is where people I see having trouble with them have a problem.  It only allows you to back off the handle to the pawl release position.

Once the handle is straightened out, simply pull on the tail end of the strap to unwind the rolled up strap on the (now free to spin) spool, and the "winch" can be pulled off the strap easily.

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My issue with ratchet straps is the quality of the mechanism. Seems like very few of them operate well. Yea they will get tight and hold well but despite my familiarity with them and plenty of hand strength it's never straightforward to release them. I've got 2 large ones with stainless ratchets that do well but they are too big for most shop work.

Pony/Jorgensen made 2" x 30ft  canvas straps with a crank handle like a big bar clamp. They come out every few years as needed I just wish they made a little size.

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4 hours ago, Graeme1967USMC said:

Looks good, although I'm not sure the F clamps are really needed.

In a perfect world with well-cut miters, you'd be right.  As I pointed out, though, this was a ballpark job cut on a sliding compound miter saw.  Someday I'll make a proper sled for cutting frame miters.  For today, these needed a little extra help to get all the way closed.

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You made a nice looking frame ! Trying to get the taller inside part aligned could be tricky. 

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I have a couple of "Pony" versions of this and I use them on frames or smaller boxes.  They work well.  I'll have to check out the Irwins if mine ever die.

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I have the metal band version from MLCS i think It works really well but can be cumbersome to use.

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In my experience, the key to ratchet straps is to draw the strap through as far as you can, under hand tension, before doing any ratcheting. When I ratchet my ladder to my car for work, it only takes a couple of cranks, because I already pulled out all the slack. If you start ratcheting with a lot of slack, you'll get a ton of strap wrapped in the mechanism and sometimes have a lot of trouble getting it undone later. 

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Isaac is exactly correct.   Also, if you don't crank the handle all the way home on the last stroke, it leaves you somewhere to go to ease the tension on the pawl release mechanism.

Don't feel bad if you've had trouble.   I taught some of the smartest people in the world how to work them, after I saw some scientist friends of mine cussing them years ago while tying down some scientific equipment.  Those guys were pretty young back then, and now are considered some of the World's top Astrophysicists.  The best way to operate them is not intuitive, and I had probably fought them for a good while until I finally figured out the best drill.

I don't really like the small ones with the solid color straps, but I do have a few for uses where the larger ones with the striped yellow straps are too big.   The middle, and larger sizes with the D-handles work a lot better.

Regardless of how much strap gets wrapped, after straightening the handle, pull on the tail end of the strap until the spool is unwound.

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