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Dubuque Clamp Company

Many of you that read my blog regularly know that I have spent a week at Paul Sellers’ Foundations Class, I also am a member of his Woodworking Masterclass. Many of his lessons and techniques are excellent. He is also a fascinating person, extremely passionate about his craft and most importantly, helping people grow and develop as woodworkers. If you watch many of his videos you will notice one interesting thing that occurs repeatedly, the clamps he uses fail. The frame bends, the mechanism sticks, the adjustment breaks off, the entire end cracks. I’m chuckling as I write this, thinking of the many clamps in the classroom that kept piling up in the corner as they failed. Paul had added wood to the clamp as a stiffener to prevent the bending and it works. If I had the time, I would go back through the videos and note the number of times a clamp breaks. It would almost be like the old college drinking game where each time a clamp fails you have to drink a beer.

All of that being said I know that I will not be purchasing clamps from Harbor Freight. They may be cheap but they are frail, I have used them and I have watched them fail. The other clamp that was being tested in Paul’s shop was manufactured in the US by Dubuque Clamp Company. It can be found on Amazon and at Lee Valley Tools. Yes the clamps cost more than the clamps at Harbor Freight but I expect to be handing these down to my grandchildren.

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With the Glue up of the coffee table on the immediate horizon I began counting up my clamps and thinking about the glue up and realized I did not have enough clamps. I have managed for many years with what I have, but the final glue of of this project brings together so many individual parts that I can not find a way around purchasing some new clamps. Fortunately I just had an email from Lee Valley and shipping is free. Timing is everything…….

Categories: Tools
  1. September 21, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    I must admit that I’ve never noticed any of the clamps fail. I’ve seen the handle to tighten them fall out from time to time.

    I have a dozen 24 and a dozen 48 hf clamps and so far so good. I’ve yet to add the lumber to the centre yet. Someday when all is finished in the workshop and the necessary tools acquired, I’ll spring fro some of the dubuques.

    • September 21, 2013 at 5:47 pm

      Thanks for stopping by my blog. The HF clamps work fine they just seem to have a high failure rate. My new clamps arrived and I am thrilled with them. I also just noticed that Paul sellers had a report on them on his blog. In the words of my 14 yr old son “nice clamp dad!”

  2. Joe M
    September 22, 2013 at 10:33 am

    “Tools for Working Wood” also carries the USA clamp

  3. Freddy Roman
    September 22, 2013 at 10:51 am

    I have purchased these aluminum clamps for years and would say I have a mix results. It takes 3 clamps to clamp a spring joint, while only one Jorgensen bar clamp (Or ones similar). Do I enjoy using them yes, but many of times you wish the clamping pads were longer. Now I have clamped thousands of boards, but as of recently I have broken 2 of them. The heads shear off from metal fatigue. That said if you don’t making a living in furniture making like I do, then maybe there won’t be any concerns. Solid buy and at least the ones I have are made in USA.

    • September 22, 2013 at 3:18 pm

      Thanks for stopping by.

  4. February 14, 2015 at 3:25 am

    Thank you so much for this post. You very clearly answered my question that I’d had, which I posted on reddit here:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/woodworking/comments/2vssm8/harbor_freight_versus_dubuqueuniversal_aluminum/

    • February 14, 2015 at 6:08 am

      Glad it was helpful. I don’t regret my decision at all. In the near future I will purchase a few more 24″ clamps, they are definitely the ones I use most.

      • February 14, 2015 at 11:54 am

        Thanks for the reply! How many of each type do you have? Also which/how many G/C clamps, spring clamps, and F clamps do you have? Just curious to compare lists there, so that I can avoid too much back and forth with the ordering process or returning the Harbor Freight ones.

      • February 15, 2015 at 7:45 pm

        Vic, I posted a picture on Instagram (you will find me listed as orepass,)of what I have barring a handful of various size c clamps. You can also see it on the right side of my blog in the Instagram photo box

  5. February 15, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    Thanks, that’s cool. I ended up ordering the following:

    Eight 24″ Dubuque aluminum bar clamps
    Eight 36″
    Four 48″
    Two Variable-Jaw Pressure-Adjusting Clamps
    28-pack of spring clamps

    I think I’m going to keep the four 12″ F clamps from Harbor Freight, they seem fine.

    I’m just looking now for C-clamps. I’m not sure if the ones from Harbor Freight are any good. Some reviews say they twist a lot. Which ones do you use?

    • February 15, 2015 at 10:20 pm

      All of my c clamps were picked up in garage sales. Usually a buck or two each. They range in size from 3 inch up to about a 6 in opening. Mostly they are used for work holding. The biggest most important clamp I have is my bench vise. Got it from Lee valley, largest they had. Use it everytime I work and quite often for glue ups.

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