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The holiday season is here. Everywhere you see winter holiday decorations and gift advertisements. If you have a wood worker on your list then here is a great gift idea for you. Every Woodworker needs clamps. Holding joints together is simply a basic woodworking fundamental. Having good clamps in your shop will help to make your finished projects better. You may have heard the old expression, The right tool for the right job. Well here are some wonderful examples.
Recently I received several boxes full of Bessy Clamps to test and review. Previously I owned a pair of K body clamps and love working with them. Bessy has revised their K body line and some of the changes are well designed with an eye on the woodworking home shop. Lets have a look at some of their woodworking line of clamps.
First a little background on the Bessey company itself. In Germany, Bessey Tool GmbH & Co. a family owned company founded in 1889. During that time Bessey had earned a reputation for expertise as a producer of bright steel, including stainless.In 1936 Bessey began production of Malleable cast iron bar clamps, followed in 1952 by the production of all-steel, heat treated clamps in 1952. (their complete history can be found at this link.
First up is the redesigned of their classic" "K" Body Bar Clamp called the Revo JR. I have the 24” clamps on my workbench to test. The clamp is designed simularily to the classic “K” body clamp that most woodworkers have hanging in their shop. Some of the new features are; A 900 pound clamping forse will keep your project heald tight. Even with the 900 pounds of clamping force this clamp is light and easy to use. This clamp is easily 30%-40% lighter all other parallel clamps claiming 900-1100 lbs of clamping force.
During my current project (my wife’s Bookcase, look for the complete project blog out soon) and I was looking forward to trying these out. I clamped together the sides of my case and each time the joint was pressed into the dados without slipping or having the face of the clamp marr the surface. One of the worse things a clamp can do to your project is to leave pressure marks on your wood. The Revo clamps’ Pad is made of a composite material to protect the project yet hold fast with plenty of pressure.
It took me a few minutes to figure out how to open the clamps but once I figured out how to push the “K” body clamp face down it opened wide ready to work. The hand crank is made of wood and is what seems the perfect width for the adult hand as opposed to be too small to help save on weight.
Next on the bench are the “K” Body Revo, the big brother of the Revo Jr.The “K” body Revo has a 3 ¾ inch throat depth as opposed to the 3 ¼ inch of the “K” body Revo Jr. These clamps have a 1500 pound clamping force. A clamping weight with plenty of force to hold together most anything you want clamped together. Again these “K” body clamps did not mar the surface of the wood on my bookcase. The Revo comes in lengths ranging from 40” to 98”. Also the “K” body Revo’s offer a line of accessories to extend the possibilities of the tool. I found the :K” body Revo’s easy to work with, and built with quality and priced well (about $75 dollars for a pack of 2) for the quality and craftsmanship in these clamps. I easily recommend these clamps that are easy to use, have a great clamping pressure and accessories making this a shop essential. Yes you can find cheaper clamps, I have several in my clamp rack. But none of them perform like the Bessey clamps
Moving on to the WS Angle Clamps, these clamps are designed to hold material at a 90 degree angle. The WS-3’s (amazon priced at $26) have a maximum thickness of 4” and the WS-6 (amazon priced at $63) have a max thickness of 8”. Once again I turned to my bookcase and used these clamps to help pull the case into square. I have also used these clamps on a picture frame, holding the biscuit joint together at precisely the right angle. These clamps are easy to adjust and just as easy to tighten. The die-cast jaws are coated to protect the work., The only thing I cwould change on these is a rubberized cap to protect the work even more. That is not saying I have marked up the wood using thses I would just like to see the extra protection. I think any shop should have at least 4 of these at the ready because you will use them if your woodworking has right angle joints. These guys hold tight. Score another point for the holiday gift buyer
Now we move onto the Bessey Bar Clamps. Coming in a range from light duty(600 lbs clamp pressure) through medium (1000-1320 lbs clamp pressure) and heavy duty (1540 lbs pressure) and ranging in throat depth from 2 ½ inch to 7 inch and 4 ½ inch in the heavy duty.
Each end of the clamping jaw is an anti-slip system, a set screw molded into the sliding arm interlocks with the serrations on the rail to prevent slipping. In the past with other clamps with the serated bar has not performed very well, slipping with even half of this pressure. I have always known if you buy cheap that’s what you get. The Bessey bar clamps are about $14 from Amazon
Now we have a look at the Bessey “H” series Pipe Clamp. The “H” series dosen’t come with a pipe, which is typical, thus allowing you to create clamps for what ever length you like. Each end of the “H” series has a foot assembly on the bottom that stabilizes the pipe clamp and keeps it upright without the need to hold it in place.
The extended height of the clamp keep your hands clear of the work-surface and allow you to turn the tightening crank without hitting the table surface. The cranking spindle is threaded with a smooth thread system for an even pressure across the clamping foot. Once clamped II could easily clamp the boards tightly and the clamps wouldn’t move unless I practically stood on the clamp, a process I do not wish you to try at home. 1 model designed to fit a ½ inch pipe and one to fit a ¾ inch pipe. let you create light duty and heavy duty clamps. I like these bar clamps.
Priced at around $16 for the ½ inch and $13.50 for the ¾ inch clamp for a single unit. An odd pricing range, the smaller is more expensive on Amazon, strange but still these clamps are very affordable making them an excellent gift for your woodworker.
Lastly we move to a clamp in my opinion is one of the most ingenious clamps I have seen yet. The Bessey VarioClippix hand spring clamps have a jaw that adjusts to 6 ½ inch throat making it possible for you to hold even large pieces tightly. Their tech sheet didn’t specify what the clamping pressure but it is at least comparable with the other brands of spring clamps that I own (Irwin and some generic no brand ones.) Available in a 6 ½ inch model (amazon price $12.75 for a single clamp and a 4” smaller clamp (for $10.50 from amazon) the smaller 4” clamps also come in a 6 piece pack for $45. Again these can make a great gift, woodworkers really need a few of these at the ready to hold innumerable projects in place.
Overall I rate the Bessey clamps I tested excellent. Bessey makes quality clamps that cover a wide variety of situations. You can view the whole line by visiting their webpage. I can not recommend the Bessey clamps high enough; they are the best clamps I have tested so far. If you are a company who manufactures any of these clamp styles above send me some and I will pit them against the Bessey clamps and we will see where they rate. You can also buy these items on the rockler site, click here for that page.
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