Archive for Richa clamps

Our Brief History of Woodworking Clamps

Posted in Artisanal, Furniture Making, Woodworking with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2014 by johnwiggers

Moving into our new furniture making studio last year allowed us to gather together all of our woodworking clamps in one place at one time; probably for the first time in decades.

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The process of doing this was eye opening, to say the least. For one thing I was a little taken aback at how many clamps we actually own. We ended up covering one entire wall with a wide assortment of woodworking clamps, and we have unofficially dubbed it ‘The Great Wall of Clampage’.

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Over the years a few different brands of clamps have graced our benches. Amongst my favourites are the Jorgensen handscrews, even though these rarely get used except for a few specialty applications.

On a day to day basis we use mostly F-clamps in our shop, and without question the ones that have endured best over the years have all been made in Germany.

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Our oldest clamps are ones that my father brought over with him from Holland, and they are now over a half century old. Their brand names are Bessey, Diepaca and Richa.

Woodworking clamps get heavily used and abused in our shop, and even though the Diepacas and Richas have each given us many decades of good service each of these of these brands has eventually worn out. In both of the examples shown above the steel eventually bent and the clamps lost their ability to function.

There is little question that Bessey has made the best preforming clamps in our shop. As old clamps either broke or wore out we ended up buying Bessey to replace them. The net result has been that the vast majority of woodworking clamps in our shop today are now heavy duty Bessey Tradesmans.

In all the years that I have used these clamps I have never seen them fail. In fact, I cannot recall a wood handle ever breaking on a Bessey either.

There is a saying amongst woodworkers that you can never have enough clamps. That saying is very true because even the simplest of projects will often require more clamps than you think you need, which invariably means that you will need more clamps than you actually have.

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On the console shown above somebody once told me that it would have been quicker to use cauls (and fewer clamps) because the clamping would have gone faster. I have always believed that the fastest (and best) way to do any job is to do it right the first time, and doing it right means having proper pressure along the entire glue joint.

There is no such thing as having too many Besseys.

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Incidentally, while looking for information on the history of Bessey clamps I came across a cool blog post showing excellent examples of vintage clamps. The link is here.

Some colleagues have also told me good things about a brand of American made clamps called Wetzler. I cannot comment on these because I have never used them and, unfortunately, it seems that Wetzler is no longer in business.

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