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Thread: Pony, Bessey or ?????

  1. #16
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Alaska
    Posts
    532
    I have several of the original Bessey K-body clamps. They are clunky, and I often have aggressive conversations with them. But - when I need them, I need them, and any other type of clamp just won't work. Yesterday afternoon I had down time, waiting for glue to set and decided to clean off about 15 years of glue accumulation. Ended up using a 4" grinder with a SS wire wheel..... They sure work smoother now, and I'm pissed at myself for not cleaning them years ago.

    I also need pipe clamps. Sometimes they are the only clamp that will work. I have moved to galvanized pipe, to reduce the staining you get from black pipe. I have both Bessey and Pony brands. The Pony sure do work smoother. Seems I have to smack the Besseys to get them to relax and move after use. When I price out the clamps, plus pipe, plus plastic pads (Pony) - they end up being only 'slightly' less than the K-body type clamps. If I have a pipe threader, price would be less, but I do not, so I get the threaded stuff from the big box stores.

    Rambling aside, I think pretty much all the K-body types are large, clunky, heavy. I still need more though, but I figured I'd go to a hardware store and play with one of each brand before buying more. I would buy the less clunky/heavy of the bunch that still have the strength I want for some of those tougher glue ups where the glue set up has gotten in front of me and I need a little bit of 'persuasion'.

  2. #17
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Lancaster, Ohio
    Posts
    985
    Dubuque clamps are my choice to get it done, I have Jorgenson I beam clamps and have used the others one time or another. Too heavy for me to want to handle would rather use three Dubuque than 2 I beam clamps. I do have pipe clamps for the odd use once every few years. In Dubuque's I have 8-24, 4-36, 2-48, 2-60, and 2-72. I primarily build furniture for my wife and kids. I plan on buying 4-36, 2-48 and 4-24 as money allows.
    Ron

  3. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Cambridge Vermont
    Posts
    1,859
    I have an assortment of clamps (but not as many as most and I don't think you can own enough of them). I have six 24" Bessy K-body clamps and two 48" (or maybe slightly longer) ones. The two long ones came with two 24" ones and 2 connectors as a christmas gift. Rockler had them on-sale for under $200 not that long ago. I have several pipe clamps but find that I don't use them often because of their limited range. I do have some of the Harbor Freight aluminum bar clamps and F style clamps and find them almost useless for anything other than very light clamping. They flex like crazy. I do have several brands of F clamps but with their small contact pads they can damage the wood so they only get used if I don't need much clamping force or if I can put a scrap of wood to sacrifice.

    I can't comment on which brand to get. 4 of my Besssys were a gift and the other 4 were on sale as well with free shipping. If there's a seller stocks the brands you are interested I would go and try each one out. The serrated edge of the Bessey can be frustration for some. Personally I care less for which brand and more about price.

  4. #19
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Alberta
    Posts
    2,145
    Lisa I would personally tell you that I had and tried out the Jorgeson versions of parallel clamps for a ten year period. Had three sizes 24'' ,36'', and 40'' if I remember right. My experience is they suck. I tried to like them ,use them etc. Finally got tired of them hanging on my wall and sold them for what I had paid originally, happiest day of my woodworking life. I found them heavy, awkward ,weak, and clumsy to use. For me I have about 50 pipe clamps that I use all the time and I like them way better. Perhaps another brand such as Bessey would have been much better but I would stay far away from the Jorgy's . I may someday try one of the Bessey's out but would probably only have 2-4 of them around for applications where they might work better. This was my experience.

  5. #20
    I've had a set of Bessey Tradesmen clamps (30 piece) that I've used for 15 years (I had too many, so I sold off the second set). I have about 10 Besseys that are like 30", which I used for two complete kitchen cabinet sets, along with the Bessey KP rail & stile blocks that hold them. I use them about 1/3 as often as the Tradesmen clamps, as they are much heavier and I don't necessarily need to hold everything parallel. But, one or two of them per project definitely keeps things started straight. They have much heavier bars than the Tradesmen versions, which helps to keep the faces parallel. I have gotten glue on the threads, but a cheap wire wheel on a drill cleans them up every few years.

    I had Jets and hated them, so I sold them all off and I also got (4) 48" ones to replace them with. A buddy has Irwins, that he got at Lowes and likes them, but he never tried the Besseys. I have Bessey pipe clamps on galvi pipes, much better then the junky Pony ones, as they came with pads and the hold off (keeps them off the table surface) is built in. I get a set for under $14 on Amazon and when on a pipe, there is tremendous pressure if you need it. I also have about a half dozen Bessey deep reach clamps that sometimes come in handy.

    When I started woodworking over 20 years ago, I bought some screw clamps, some C clamps and about a dozen Irwin quick grip clamps. I never use the C clamps and have only used the screw clamps a couple of times in all the years. The quick grip clamps are almost as useless, as there isn't much pressure. I use them when holding drawer faces to the drawers or something where I don't have to trust the clamp to not move. The Tradesmen clamps get used on every project and they don't have a clutch clamp release, so they're about as quick to use as the quick grip clamps.

  6. #21
    I couldn't imagine working without my parallel clamps. I have some of the original Bessy K- bodies which while great 20+ years ago have not aged well. I think Jet makes the absolute best but they also have the highest price. the Jet clamps are also much heavier than Bessy. I recently bought 10 of the newer Bessey Revo's and they are much better than the originals. I am happy to use them and they seem to be almost as good as the Jets. I have 4 or 5 Jet 12" clamps and I use them almost daily, stop block on a sled or bench, holding things upright or just clamping little things. The square sides and firm clamping ability make parallel clamps great in my book. I have and almost never use aluminum and steel bar clamps as well as pipe clamps. When I first started out I used them and had a heck of a time keeping everything square and straight, you can do it of course but it isn't worth the hassle to me. When buying parallel clamps make sure to check around. For my last purchase Home Depot was by far the cheapest and I bought a bunch of Bessey 50" clamps for $10 cheaper per clamp than I could find anywhere else. They have since raised their price to match others but it doesn't take much effort to beat the bushes online.

    one other thing to look for, the new bessy clamps let you tighten the handles with an allen wrench which is helpful if you have smaller hands or your grip isnt what it used to be. I personally dont need that feature but it is certainly a nice thought that my Jets do not have.

    good luck

  7. #22
    Back to the OP's question
    Here a couple of articles that may help you choose
    https://www.bobvila.com/articles/best-parallel-clamps/
    https://www.woodmagazine.com/tool-re...lel-jaw-clamps
    https://thehomewoodworker.com/best-p...r-woodworking/

    Personally I don't use them, mainly due to method of work but also for the cost.
    To me, a clamp is just that, a clamp. A device to add pressure and hold it securely. I use other methods of keeping my assemblies aligned so the clamp is not responsible for any unwanted movement during glue-ups.

    To many, a clamp also needs to be an alignment tool and should keep everything just so, enter the parallel jaw clamps. This is why they're expensive, doing two jobs at once, along with a higher clamping force than many other styles.
    just two different approaches

  8. #23
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Waterford, PA
    Posts
    1,103
    Thank you all for opinions and thoughts. I am definitely on the fence now. I thought the parallel clamps were the way to go, but you've give me other ideas. The three parallel clamps I have are heavy, without a doubt, and I tire easily, so it doesn't make sense to heft them around unless it ups my game. I'm going to look at some of the alternatives you've offered and will probably be back with more questions.
    Thanks again.

  9. #24
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Between No Where & No Place ,WA
    Posts
    1,247
    I also find the Bessey parallel clamps a bit cumbersome at times.

    Before I bought the Besseys, I utilized the Pony #53, but never took advantage of buying more than a pair. Hoping that the new Pony Clamp Co. will re-introduce the #53. See: https://www.lumberjocks.com/topics/42460

  10. #25
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    N. Idaho
    Posts
    1,368
    Debuque clamps are about the last us made that I know of and Lee valley has the best price. Good luck on the slippery slopeÖ
    "You can observe a lot just by watching."
    --Yogi Berra

  11. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Lisa Starr View Post
    Thank you all for opinions and thoughts. I am definitely on the fence now. I thought the parallel clamps were the way to go, but you've give me other ideas. The three parallel clamps I have are heavy, without a doubt, and I tire easily, so it doesn't make sense to heft them around unless it ups my game. I'm going to look at some of the alternatives you've offered and will probably be back with more questions.
    Thanks again.
    Pay attention to the "cumbersome" posts. Im not trying to pile on to a viewpoint that supports my feeling on these clamps but literally a dozen people working with clamps through the shop over the years and parallels whether they be Jets, Bessey, Irwins, etc.. are the most avoided. Its one thing if your meticulous, keeping the bars clean/protected, lay out your clamps with a tape measure pre-glue up, etc.. Thats honestly not the real world in even a hobby shop. You want to be able to grab a set of clamps, toss them on the bench, and glue up a panel, without fighting, cursing, fidgeting in panic because you've already spread the glue.

    We had the misfortune of landing on a couple of 24' besseys and I cant tell you how many employees wanted to throw them in the dumpster. The hang on the rack to this day, untouched. We have a few jets that are only used because they are 50". And a few Irwins that also collect dust.

    There is nothing worse in the heat of the moment than grabbing a clamp that gives you greif and even on a hobby level having to pre-prep your clamps... bleh... utter waste of time.

  12. #27
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Vancouver, BC
    Posts
    726
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Bolton View Post
    Its one thing if your meticulous, keeping the bars clean/protected, lay out your clamps with a tape measure pre-glue up, etc..
    I get the issue with glue on the bars (although it's never been an issue for me) but why would one use a tape measure to lay out clamps?

  13. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Funk View Post
    I get the issue with glue on the bars (although it's never been an issue for me) but why would one use a tape measure to lay out clamps?
    Seems a lot of posts you read speak to people doing pretty precise layouts pre-glue-up I guess to get clamps to an opening that is close with enough slack for getting parts together and what I would imagine more than likely is to subsequently test that the bar in the region they will be working is not going to give them fits while trying to get the part clamped. An attempt to avoid some sort of frantic panic due to the fussiness of the parallels? Who knows. Never dealt with such a thing in the shop. Just grab clamps and go.

  14. #29
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Vermont
    Posts
    341
    I have both Bessey K-body clamps and a bunch of other assorted smaller bar clamps. For bigger projects I use the Besseys but they do suck if they get glue on the bar. I clean them off with a wire wheel and/or a heat gun depending on my mood. Still, I am always looking at auctions and estate sales for more of them. I have never tried any of the other brands, but I wouldn't turn them down if they were cheap.
    Jon Endres
    Killing Trees Since 1983

  15. #30
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Ouray Colorado
    Posts
    1,175
    Iíve never been a fan of the Bessey K body clamps. Had a couple of the originals and they were not much good and recently bought a couple of the new ones. They work better but still not my go to. I like the I beam bar clamps, donít have to worry about glue build up on those as they self clean. Also Bates glue release works for keeping glue off if you remember to apply it often. The Bessey I beam clamps are good but releasing the clutch from the bottom side takes getting used to.
    I just bought a couple of the Debuque bar clamps and really liking them for a light pattern clamp. Way better than the old light Jorgenson bar clamps. Not a clamp for heavy millwork glue ups but great for furniture and cabinet work. Very light and easy to handle.
    basically for any shop a assortment of many different types of clamps is a good thing.
    73D605EB-5A49-4BAF-9EB8-09718B913BC9.jpg

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