A clamp to watch for

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
Years back I’d gotten four Jorgensen 3424 clamps from a friend closing up his countertop shop. They were great little lightweight clamps. While getting my free flashlight (or tape measure) at Harbor Freight, I spied what looked like those clamps. I got some and took them home. I saw the wood insert trick so I did it, but when I did, I got an ugly Harbor Freight type surprise. The clamp bar was at least half the thickness of the Jorgy. 1/16” thick compared to 1/8” thick. There were other things also. The point of this post isn’t to bash HF, but to illuminate the difference. The flea market and yard sale season is here, so when there are available clamps, watch for the aluminum and orange Jorgenson 3524s. They’re well worth having for light work.
The 3524 means 24" between the clamp jaws. A 3548 would have 48" between the jaws.
1    Jorgy 3524 1 - 1.jpg
HF on the left, Jorgensen 3524s on the right.

1    Jorgy 3524 2 - 1.jpg
comparisons of the ends

1    Jorgy 3524 3 - 1.jpg
Closeup of the ends. Obviously the HF is on the right. The upper inside corners look a little sketchy.

1    Jorgy 3524 4 - 1.jpg
The rack of detents

1    Jorgy 3524 5 - 1.jpg
The detent and the pawl. By filing the harbor freight pawl, I got a much more solid bite.

1    Jorgy 3524 6 - 1.jpg
the pawls out of the detents

1    Jorgy 3524 7 - 1.jpg
side view

1    Jorgy 3524 8 - 1.jpg
Moveable jaw.

1    Jorgy 3524 9 - 1.jpg
Clamp heads


Corporate Member
Yeah HF Clamps are good for supporting or filling in to extend your good clamps. But like anything cheaper it is always cost of material and labor effort that will drive costs.

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
My main point is that if the orange clamps are spotted, go for it. Its a good light duty clamp. That's why there are so many flimsy imitators. If an imitator is found in a retail store, pull off the end cap and check out the thickness of the aluminum bar. That'll tell you all you need to know.


Well, a light duty clamp only needs to be light duty. So, for the typical use where you need only squeeze a little glue, hold a carcass in place etc., how do the HF clamps work? Are the so flimsy the have to have the wood insert? Are they so cheap it is worth it?
Their squeeze trigger black F clamps are so bad, they don;t work, but the blue and black screw F clamps work fine. So do their C clamps.


Corporate Member
To Scott's point, the HF bar clamps work fine for light duty work like panel glue ups. You don't need a ton of force in that use case. I like their light weight and have had zero problems with them. IMO, these are one of the items HF has that are useful and functional enough to get. Many other things at HF... not so much. That said, I'll keep an eye out for the Jorgensens.

Henry W

Senior User
I will bash the HF version. Bought two because I too had picked up two used ones (orange version) and loved them. THe HF ones were ok at first, but over time kept popping out of the detent (if that's the right term) and these have been junked. Not worth my dollars - even the few I spent. Maybe I expected too much...
Now the F clamps at HF have been great - and are a great value.
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bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
My first test (below) of my new HF aluminum clamps was enough to let me know that they will go on the back clamp rack and will be used only when the other clamps are already in use. 1/2" pipe clamps would have been far better.
1    Jorgy 3524 - 2.jpg
A grinder stand box using the HF clamps with a spline joint on some salvaged laminated plywood.

1    Jorgy 3524 - 3.jpg
The finished grinder stand to give a perspective of size

1    Jorgy 3524 - 4.jpg
I ran out of aluminum clamps and had to resort to the HF clamps. They got the job done but I really didn't like using them.

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
First, I know what kind of pressure it will take to get that much squeeze out and those aluminum wing nut handles would distort under that much pressure if the glue line were to be invisible. Maybe the wing handles are cast iron, but they look aluminum. Glopping on lots of glue and then squeezing things up may give that kind of squeeze out but the glue line would look horrible.
The big indicator is the need to put on a cross piece of wood to keep things from buckling up. That had to have been put there after the original glue-up otherwise it would have become a permanent part of the assembly. Clearly the long bar is off the surface.

Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, it is said. With all the imitators out there, the Jorgensen 3520s are the real deal to watch for.

1    Jorgy 3524 x - 1.jpg
Real bar clamps with 3/4 pipe clamps on top. Pressure is about every foot on this simple two joint glue up.

Pop Golden

Corporate Member
On the subject of HF clamps. I have several of their screw clamps. I use them for stops, handling small stuff on the drill press & router table. They work very well and cost around 1/2 what the woodworking stores get. I can find no difference. The screws are stout & the wood is good. Give 'em a try.
HF 8 in. Handscrew Clamp.jpg


Corporate Member
In my opinion, we all must evaluate the impact of price versus quality when we purchase a tool such as clamp. Closely related with quality is performance of the product when used. I am a strong proponent of spending a bit more to get optimal performance and a longer life span for the tool. Except for materials and expendables, I avoid buying for a single project but favor a longer term use. I have a few of the Rockler aluminum bar clamps that I got used several years ago and they perform poorly -- my clamp purchases have largely been F-style clamps, Irwin Quik Clamps, wood clamps by Jorgensen and K-body clamps by Bessey. Bessey has the best diversity of clamping solutions (e.g., I have their band clamp) and they all have excellent performance at reasonable prices. Of course K-body clamps are the most expensive, but I have bought them on sales and in special buys (IIRC Bobby G spearheaded a special buy several years ago from a Canadian hardware firm that was selling out their inventory and we got a bunch at less than 50% prevailing prices).

Jorgensen made excellent clamps (both pipe and bar styles) that have been used in the furniture industry for years -- I prefer the deeper throat of the K-Body, so I have not pursued these still high value clamps for my use.

So my advice is to buy for the long term and absorb the pain of the greater initial cost in return for a lifelong, high performance product.

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