I grew up with cramps, the steel type and not stomach cramps, but cramps they were. When I was 15 the cramps we used, mostly Record and Woden, were sash and ‘T’ bar cramps and in my view worked to a level of perfection for that era and, until I began using alluminium ones, they seemed just fine. I suppose at first I had a sort of loyalty to the ones I used. Today that has changed. Most likely I wouldn’t use them for general work but I do keep ‘T’ bars around for heavier joinery and such.
Through the years you have seen me use mostly extruded alluminium sash cramps that are now named under the Americanism clamps. For the sake of universalism I now use the term clamps too. I am not sure which of the two terms seems the most accurately appropriate––the one most familiar or the one most common. I own about 50 clamps because of the school. It’s nice to have access to so many, but it seems we use them mostly to speed things up for different reasons. Recently I ordered four new clamps from Fine Tools in Germany because I was interested in performance. Until now I have advised people to go for the economy ones because the better made ones can be prohibitive for those on a tighter budget and of course these do work just fine. I ordered the clamps because the extruded alluminium looked so good and chunky and so too the sliding tommy bar for applying pressure works better than thumb or butterfly types, which often clash with adjacent ones. I have liked the American Acme clamp apart from that flaw in the design.
and they arrived with a couple of bench holdfasts that I also wanted to put through their paces. I was impressed as soon as I picked the Fine Tool Juuma clamps up as they were so nicely made from thick extruded aluminium with clamp heads and slides that really matched the beam’s strength in every way. I think that these are indeed lifetime clamps. Here you can see the various component parts and they are as I said arriving in Europe at just the right time because good lightweight clamps can be hard to come by at the right price.
I didn’t retrofit the beams as yet as I did with the cheaper versions as they didn’t really seem to need it technically but I plan to as I like the feel all the more. I did add the wooden pads though as the direct transfer of solid pressure through the wood seems more positive than the softer pads that come with the wood. This week I have three other new products for woodworking that I like. A solidly made bench holdfast, a new bench knife for knifewalls and additionally another video we made for making hand made cam clamps for about £1 a piece.