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Getting a grip

From small hand-held clamps to large vacuum presses for veneering applications, there are countless products available for securing workpieces. What the products all have in common is they take the burden off the woodworker so the individual has more time to enhance the quality and production of their work.

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Company representatives shared their latest and most popular clamping and hold-down solutions for woodworkers with Woodshop News. Clamping products that secure items while they're being worked on consist mainly of two categories: manual and vacuum-style solutions. A third category is the veneering and laminating category, which encompasses vacuum press and bag products for setting finished work.

Manual clamps

Bessey Tools has upgraded its K Body Revo parallel clamp, which offers 30 percent more clamping surface than the previous K Body Revo model, 1,500 lbs. of clamping force, a larger comfort grip handle, precise parallel clamping and the ability to quickly convert to a spreader, according to the company. The clamps are available in a variety of lengths; a 50" clamp sells for about $55.

"The key benefit of parallel clamps in general is that you don't just have a spot where a pad hits the work surface. It spreads the weight over a much broader area so you don't end up with depressions in the wood," says Andrew Fera, Bessey's marketing manager.

Bessey also offers an H-Series Pipe Clamp, which has cast jaws for durability and a rugged foot design that stabilizes the clamp in two dimensions giving dual-axis stability to the workpiece. The other improvement on this patent-pending clamp is the height of the fixture - a taller design lifts the work higher above the work surface. This ensures better clearance and less chance of those annoying knuckle scrapes as you work.

The Bessey H-Series Pipe Clamp features a taller design to lift work above the surface.

Bessey's new EZS one-hand clamp offers high-end clamping force in an easy-to-use construction at standard clamp prices, according to Fera. It provides 445 lbs. of clamp force and transitions smoothly from clamping to spreading.

Lee Valley Tools offers several new efficient clamps for assembly work.

The new Aluminum Assembly Clamp features a sliding jaw with a locking handle mechanism to instantly apply or release pressure. The integral thumb wheel adjusts clamping pressure up to 700 lbs. to suit the application. The pressure set is maintained for repetitive use, regardless of the jaw opening, speeding assembly work. The moveable jaw has a slight inward cant that becomes parallel with the fixed jaw under clamping pressure, ensuring consistent pressure over the jaw face. It has durable cast-aluminum jaws, a substantial 9/32" x 7/8" steel bar and a cast-steel clutch. Throat depth is 3-1/4", with a 1-1/2" face width. Sizes range from 6" to 24". A single 12" clamp sells for $23.50.

The Bessey EZS one-hand clamp.

Lee Valley's new Aluminum Squeezer/Spreader clamp is notable for its robust construction and unique design. Capable of applying up to 700 lbs. of force, it has cast-aluminum jaws, a 1/4" x 3/4" steel bar and a heavy-duty mechanism. The moving jaw advances with one hand and has a spring-loaded face that is canted slightly so its top touches first as the jaw closes. As pressure is applied, the spring compresses to make this face parallel to the fixed face for even pressure distribution. The fixed jaw has a wing knob for quick conversion into a spreader. Both jaw faces have non-marring, glue-resistant pads. The clutch operates with a simple lever release. A single 12" clamp sells for $26.50.

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