Fxguy

Clamps - any to avoid?

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I’ve got about 6 Irwin Quick Grip 12” clamps that work well but starting to need some larger clamps. As the length increase, those quick grips get expensive quickly. For 24” and 36” clamps, are there any brands or types to avoid? Any suggestions for these sized clamps? 
 

thanks!

Tim

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Quick Grips are not capable of applying much clamping pressure, so you may want to look at something like F-clamps, bar clamps or pipe clamps. Pipe clamps are probably the most economical way to get lots of clamping force.

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For inexpensive clamps, look into Harbor Freight's F-style clamps.  But test everyone, before you check out.  Some are twisted and cause the cast iron to fracture.  Just take a two inch square of 1" wood and try each one.

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I suggest these clamps regularly. They are a bit less refined than the Bessy counter part but are FAR FAR cheaper even after you consider shipping (unless you live close to a store)

https://www.menards.com/main/tools/hand-tools/clamps-vises/masterforce-reg-24-f-clamp/3062467/p-1444439539769-c-9135.htm

They make 12" 24" and 36" versions. I have about 12 of the 12" clamps and use them daily. I have yet to have a problem with 1.

They compare to these https://www.woodcraft.com/products/bessey-tradesman-professional-series-bar-clamp-12-capacity-5-1-2-throat-depth?via=573621f469702d06760016cd%2C576328a869702d20ec000b2f%2C576419b969702d3baa0002ec

If you are in the budge for $40 per clamp wait for black Friday sales and grab Jet parallel clamps on sale, they are hard to beat. Otherwise Bessy sells some decent parallel clamps at a good everyday price at Home deopt. Once I get over 24" F style clamps get used less and i use more parallel style clamps. i like the larger surface area on the jaw.

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As with a lot of things in woodworking it really depends on what you are doing. Having said that quick grips are great but as mentioned above do not have the holding power you need for many tasks. I like the simple bar clamps for many applications and if it fits in the budget a set of 4 k body clamps. As the saying goes you can never have to many clamps :) 

 

 

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I like the Jorgensen 3700 Bar Clamps and the 3700-HD Bar Clamps for longer clamping tasks.  I typically pick them up from Lowe's and find that their price and quality provide a good value and haven't had a problem with any of them.

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As RichardA said, HF clamps are a killer deal, up to about 12" length. They use the same size bar on longer ones, and it has too much flex. For larger stuff, pipe clamps have to be the best bang for the buck. Buy threaded pipe in 2'  or 3' sticks and use couplings to extend it.

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I have all besseys now. I've had my share of cheaper clamps. Buy the best you can, even if it's only a few. Good clamps will last a lifetime, and are great asset to the shop.

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In the end having different styles of clamps let you do more. I would recommend getting different styles and different lengths. The quick grips have their place, but you definitely don't want to spend the price for these in larger sizes. I mostly use the quick grip style to clamp stuff down to the workbench. 

My main clamps are aluminum bar clamps. These are not too expensive, they are light, and do great for most simple clamping jobs and excel at gluing up panels. Pipe clamps basically do the same job, but I much prefer the much lighter aluminum. Size wise the 24" clamps do most jobs. These aluminum bar clamps have served me for many many years. 

My second most used clamp are the F style clamp, these too can be gotten pretty inexpensively and some guys have already posted a few sources at good prices. I'd get a bunch of these at smaller sizes, say 8", and a few at larger sizes. These larger F style clamps (I have four at 36") come in pretty handy for some clamping situations. 

My next clamp I use, but not nearly as often as the ones above, are the parallel style clamp. These are great clamps and I should use them more but they are more expensive and I only have a handful of them. These do have a great large clamping area and great clamping pressure. Biggest problem I have with these is it's often easier to just grab the lighter aluminum bar clamps. 

 

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Host makes some good clamps for the price and Peachtree puts some nice ones on sale sometimes. I have one strong DO NOT BUY and that’s this Tekton clamp, it’s weak and the grip is on backwards, probably to avoid a lawsuit:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000NQ4QQK/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

@Bmac makes a good list, you need lots of different kinds of clamps eventually. Now while I only have one aluminum bar clamp, I have several parallel jaw clamps by Bessey (for strength in clamps don’t go cheap) and I even have 36” Irwin F clamps, they work fine although they aren’t super strong. 
HD usually sells some smaller Bessey F clamps, $20 for six or eight, I don’t recall. Those are a good deal for your smaller projects and I used the, all the time. 
For length and strength people have said pipe style clamps. I have one set 8’ long because I made a bed frame 6’x7’ but originally the pipes were 5’ so I bought couplings and added 3’ to them. Very flexible in that manner. 

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5 hours ago, Bmac said:

...My main clamps are aluminum bar clamps. These are not too expensive, they are light, and do great for most simple clamping jobs and excel at gluing up panels. Pipe clamps basically do the same job, but I much prefer the much lighter aluminum. Size wise the 24" clamps do most jobs. These aluminum bar clamps have served me for many many years....

Which ones do you use Bmac? I have been thinking about getting some Dubuque Clamp Works.

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2 minutes ago, treeslayer said:

I can testify to the quality of the Dubuque clamps, lightweight and strong, don’t get the wanna-be ones, cheap and weak. I will say I’m a little bit prejudiced because Kieth and Edna Clark have owned the business for 40 years and are friends of mine, great folks

 

Friends that own a clamp business...Nice!!!

I'm going to give them a try. 

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@pkinneb, Yes, I have been very pleased with the Dubuque clamps, strong and very durable. Love the fact that they are so light compared to pipe clamps!

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I would look into the harbor freight clamps. There's a lot there to get started with. Your gonna need a lot of various clamps. Buy as you need...

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Nice ! I like a clamp wall like that, shows that a guy is serious about woodworking, the factory is right here in town and I need to get down there soon before my wife spends our tax refund on something else. Enjoy the new clamps I think you’re going to like them

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Yes, you will like them, may like them so much you buy more. The light weight is such an advantage as I stated before!

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One other point.  Should you require a lot of pressure for some reason. It's simple to cut a piece of wood that will slip inside the tube to strengthen it to keep it from flexing. Then slide it out when you're done. So far I haven't needed that much force, and really can't think of using that much force. But there's the simple remedy should you need it.

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