Sunday, March 6, 2016

Handi-Clamps: Irwin's Gift to Woodworkers Who Never Learned to Juggle

Irwin Quickgrips 4-Inch Handi-Clamps

The walls in the shop look like they've sprouted bar clamps in all sizes and shapes: these are the "big guns" in my woodworking arsenal. Smaller clamps, in multiple shapes and sizes themselves, dwell in a drawer in my tool cabinet. There you’ll find C-Clamps, band clamps, spring clamps and corner clamps; along with some light-duty clamps combine the C-Clamp’s reach with a spring clamp’s convenience. By that, I mean some Irwin Quick-Grip Handi-Clamps, the 4-inch size (stock number 59400CD).

Irwin’s resin-body Handi-Clamps have a pliers-style hand grip that ratchet to lock closed; with a quick-release trigger to unlock the ratchet. The business end closes similar to standard C-Clamps, with a throat depth of 3 inches and a maximum 4-inch closure. The jaws end in 1-inch square rubber pads that can swivel to accommodate angled surfaces. Irwin also makes smaller sizes, whose jaws open to 1½ and 2 inches.

  The clamps are made of plastic instead of steel and they apply pressure through hand strength instead of with a screw, so they’re not intended for heavy use like a C-Clamp. They're an improvement on spring clamps though, because you can control the clamping pressure to some extent.

Irwin says that this size Handi-Clamp provides maximum clamping pressure of 75 psi, which is sufficient for small jobs and holding items steady when positioning larger clamps. Their rubber-padded jaws are less likely to mar delicate surfaces, and the swiveling pads helps them fit irregular or oddly-shaped surfaces. Unlike the full 360-degree swivel you find on a C-Clamp’s moving arm, the Handi-Clamp pads only rotate in the plane of the jaws.

My clamps receive frequent use in small projects, especially if I need to fix a workpiece in place while I position and tighten through a pipe clamp or bar clamp for heavy-duty work. The ratchet holds securely but releases easily. I also use my clamps to secure pieces to a workbench or drill press. Opening or closing them is far faster using C-Clamps, and either one takes only one hand: that’s just what we non-jugglers need. 


Plus: holds securely, easy to open and close, non-marring pads,
Minus: pads swivel only in one plane, maximum 75-psi clamp strength
What They’re Saying: Irwin’s Quick-Grip Handi-Clamps make light-duty replacements for C-Clamps and spring clamps. Every workshop needs a pair or two.


$6.97, Retail: $10.99
You Save: $4.02

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