I had planned to pick up a few more of the Irwin clamps on Ebay before I started that process. During my trip to the local Home Depot today, however, I spotted these Milwaukee 2" Hand Clamps for the first time:
The Irwin clamps are $8.58 at Lowe’s (can be found slightly cheaper on Ebay) while the Milwaukee clamps are $5.97 on the Home Depot website (there was also a sale on them at my local store today rounding them down to ~$4.50-$5). The Milwaukee clamps are more expensive everywhere else I looked (Amazon, Ebay, etc…).
Each clamp had mixed reviews on each website, however the Milwaukee clamps were a lot higher on average. It appeared as though the bad reviews were mainly from customers who used these clamps for more than what they were intended. I have only used the Irwin clamps before but am looking at possibly purchasing the Milwaukee clamps instead to finish my set off if they are indeed better.
The Irwin clamp is rated for 60lbs of clamping force while the Milwaukee clamp is rated for 120lbs. That alone makes me kick myself for not picking one or two up today to at least test. The Irwin clamp also operates on a ratcheting mechanism to tighten while the Milwaukee clamp has a slide. I do not know how well the slide works on the Milwaukee clamp so I cannot compare the two as of yet. The Irwin clamp has a softer pad while the Milwaukee clamp has a hard pad. This makes me think that the Milwaukee clamp will be more likely to slip when in use. As far as ergonomics go, the Milwaukee clamp has a much more comfortable grip than my Irwin clamps, but that can be subjective. Milwaukee also has a limited lifetime warranty on their hand tools while I am not sure of Irwin’s policy.
Overall, I wish I had picked up a few while at Home Depot today while they were on sale (still a great price online in my opinion relative to Irwin’s). Does anyone have any prior experience or light they can shed on this to better inform my decision on expanding my 2" hand clamp collection?
I have the Milwaukee ones, and had seen and handled the Irwin ones in Lowe’s. The Milwaukee seem better built, and I too thought their handles were much more comfortable. Looking again now, looks like the jaws have a little more bracing in them than the Irwin, the pins that let the clamp surface rotate are metal rivets instead of what looks like all plastic, and I do remember liking the release and smooth feel of Milwaukee’s hex bar clamp/release mechanism better. I think I looked at the Irwin for probably 30 seconds and just said meh and haven’t looked at them again since. I use the clamps instead of speed bar clamps or C clamps for holding down levels to use as circular saw guides, or meter sticks to draw lines, hold wood in place on tables, all kinds of stuff. The hand clamps are just so quick to put on and off comparatively, it’s awesome. I haven’t had any issues with them sliding in my usage, the ridges in the head seem to keep a good hold (though they make light tracks in the wood too if you clamp them hard enough).
Milwaukee also has 4” hand clamps, which I have many more of them than the 2” and find them more useful, if you need bigger. I think HD is discontinuing stocking them, my local store hasn’t had the 4 inchers in stock for a while (pretty sure since I bought the only two from three stores I visited about a month ago). I’ve noticed stock numbers dwindling on the 2”, I’m keeping tabs so I know when to go buy them out, but the HD website doesn’t list them for online order anymore, and has them marked not sold in stores, which leads to that guess. I haven’t heard of Milwaukee discontinuing them though, and other places like Acme still have them, so you can still get them if you want, just possibly not in store. That is likely also responsible for the good pricing you’re seeing on them.
There’s also the all metal hand clamps Milwaukee has which are similar, I like the light weight of the plastic ones and find them more than sufficient and convenient, but if you need a little more oomph, my HD at least does still stock the all metal torque lock versions.
Going elsewhere or online, there’s even more options, Bessey makes similar hand clamps that are well reviewed, though I have no personal experience, and there look to be other brands as well. There’s also the little spring clamps which you can get in up to 2 inches, those things are super cheap and handy, though I don’t know if they’d work for your application, or if the large numbers of them you could get for the same $8 would help in any way.
I was able to stop by my local Home Depot again yesterday and cleaned out their stock of 2" and 4" Milwaukee clamps. The 2" clamps were $3.97 and the 4" clamps were $5.97. I am very satisfied with this purchase as I compared them with my Irwin clamps and they seem much stronger and overall more solid. They were out of stock at another Home Depot near me as the associate reaffirmed they were on clearance. If I see any more, I will be picking them up because they are by far the best at this price point and are very useful.
There are many versions of these things in different weights and sizes.
These don’t LOOK very strong …
Hultafors, the axe makers, seem to be broadening their products and have a range of these that look good.
The cheap version of these with just a pressed metal frame and an action like a gun for tubes of sealant are the best value in my opinion. Cheap, light, super easy to use and surprisingly strong.
The Grip-On clamp does look awefully like the Jorgenson clamp that you mentioned, I’m quite bummed that they went out of business. I purchased a couple longer Pony clamps as well as some Pony cabinet face clamps a few years ago and man those things are quality products. The cabinet face clamps by far exceeded my expectations. I have a pair of old Jorgenson wood clamps as well that I got off of Craigslist. Hopefully I will luck out at a garage sale or Craigslist again and find some of these once more.
Jorgenson (also called Pony) was a clamp manufacturer in USA since 1903. They slowly shifted their factories outside the USA although they still maintained very very high quality. Pony was one of the very few companies where they outsourced manufacturing but still maintained great quality (unlike Stanley, Sheffield, etc). I have one of their clamps “Made in Taiwan” but man it is super high quality. Unfortunately they went out of business in 2016.
GREATSTAR INDUSTRIAL owns the Jorgenson and Pony name now, so perhaps they are making new products with this old name.
Yes, @Fancy_Dan, Jorgenson clamps are definitely better than Irwin but as @gafortiby pointed out, they went out of business. However, you can still find some Jorgenson and Pony clamps on Amazon and Ebay.
@gafortiby I have not seen any new clamps resurfacing with the Jorgenson or Pony names but would absolutely love it if they came back. I took a look at GreatStar Industrial’s website and their clamp section looks very lacking:
It seems that the Milwaukee clamps at my local Home Depot have been replaced with these Bessey hand clamps:
These clamps have a very similar ratcheting system to the Milwaukee clamps and have hard pads on them as well. The clamping strength says 0 on Home Depot’s website so it must not be updated yet. I am not sure if this is a new product for Home Depot or just a new product for the local Home Depot stores that I visit. My hypothesis is that it is a new product as there are no customer reviews yet either. Heck, I cannot even find them on the Bessey website! They’re not listed on Amazon either and the model number when googled only brings up Home Depot. Are these new and exclusive to Home Depot? That wouldn’t make sense if Bessey is indeed going on clearance there (referring to the other day’s posting).
Jorgensen - from the original source (Adjustable Clamp Co of Chicago) would be hard to find anywhere since they ceased operation. Hangzhou Great Star - bought the assets of the company - but I don’t think they are back I production yet.
Well spotted Dan. I have a good Bahco adjustable wrench and have used their wire cutters but never knew they sold clamps. No idea who is the maker between them and Hultafors but I see the similarity in the products.
Actually I was thinking that the Hultafors’ design was rather unique in that it employs what might even be a forged bar that is bent around to form the fixed jaw. Other styles that I’ve seen (including the Bahco) use a bar that is fastened into the fixed jaw.
I couldn’t decide between Jorgensen, Grip-On and Hultafors … so, thanks to eBay, I got one of each for Christmas. Thanks Father eBay! I sometimes wonder how Santa knows what I need
My first impressions are:
Grip-On seems identical to Jorgensen, except that two Grip-On clamps can’t be fitted together like Jorgensen clamps can.
Jorgensen (and Grip-On) clamps are great: smooth to operate and the build quality feels good. Jorgensen pads have the largest surface area.
Drum roll … the Hultafors QCX looks and feels the best. Time will tell, but the build quality feels solid. Hultafors does use a forged bar as @fred described and the pads seem higher quality material than Jorgensen/Grip-On.
Grip-On claims 150 Kg clamping power and Jorgensen claims 136 Kg.
The Hultafors QCX clamp claims 100-120 Kg clamping power. (There’s also a cheaper QC model that has 60-70 Kg, which I think is marginally better than similar-sized Irwin quick clamps.)
FWIW, Hultafors website argues that: “Hultafors has prioritised compact and ergonomic design and durable materials ahead of maximum clamping force.” Although that’s marketing blurb, I reckon 100-120 Kg is ample for my needs.
To be honest, I think all three brands of clamp are excellent.
I’ll use quick clamps (mostly Irwin) almost like holding fixtures - get the glue applied - use the quick clamps and perhaps some alignment blocks to do the initial clamping - then apply more clamping force with parallel jaw or other clamps. For Pine maybe a batch of quick clamps is adequate. For rock maple - my experience is that you need much more force to get proper squeeze out and strength along the glue line - especially if its just a spring joint - without benefit of biscuits, dominos or dowels (any of these work to add both strength and provide alignment).I also think that for flat glue-ups people underestimate the value of cauls.