HF 12" quick clamp

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  • HF 12" quick clamp

    The Harbor Freight 12" quick clamp/spreader looks like a great buy when on sale with coupon for $1.99, however, the main drawback with these units are that they fail when too much pressure is applied.

    The unit appears to be well made with a steel ratchet bar and a hard dense pvc for the handle. It has non marring pads for the jaws and works very smoothly. My initial impressions at the store were quite good and I picked up 6 of them thinking what a steal. It was only in use did I realize the achilles tendon was the pivot point contained in the housing of the handle. Inside the handle on either side is a round protrusion that the trigger handle fits over. If too much pressure is applied the round protrusion shears off of one side and the unit is broken.

    The easy fix that I applied was to disassemble the unit by removing 5 phillips head screws, locate the failed pivot point, drill it out, reassemble with trigger handle centered on the hole and drill through to the other side of the handle. Install a machine screw, lock washer and nut and your good to go

    The unit will work again, but there was no increase in clamping power, nor did I expect one when I saw the inner working of the clamp. The release button pushes against a steel plate to relieve the tension, but the squeeze handle (trigger) pushes on a plastic piece! So without removing and replacing this too, the same clamping force can be applied, otherwise you end up just bending that plastic follower.

    If you find this useful rate the thread and add to my reputation, thanks

    Forgot to complete this review with photos of fix:

    Drill out using 3/16" bit, use 3/16" fine thread machine screws with flat head and no undercut (flat under screw head) 1" long, lock washer and nut.

    Clamps with new life!

    • Bill in Buena Park
      Bill in Buena Park commented
      Editing a comment
      Good review, C&H - thanks. I own several of these, and have broken a couple the same way. But at $2 each, I keep buying them, and fixing the broken ones. The pressure these provide work just fine for the applications in which I use them, but that darned handle pivot is worthless.

    • jhart
      jhart commented
      Editing a comment
      Good review. Have found the same problem as to the pressure with these clamps. Now just use them for minor holding projects. Glad I had not bought a bunch of them, although tough to complain for around $2-3 bucks each.

    • rollo
      rollo commented
      Editing a comment
      spot on

      I've found the same thing w/these clamps. Inadequate for most woodworking since they have very low pressure, slip and the jaws splay out, but my brother finds them useful for metalworking, when needing to clamp pieces for welding.
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