Tool Review - Harbor Freight - Pittsburg 4 inch Ratcheting Bar Clamp

Harbor Freight - Pittsburge 4 inch Ratcheting Bar Clamp
Harbor Freight - Pittsburgh 4 inch Ratcheting Bar Clamp
The first one of these I ever saw was the next larger size. I purchased some and discovered that the clamps would not hold. I could clamp hem down tight, and a short time later I would find the clamp had loosened. I finally gave up on them when one broke and tossed them in the recycle bins.

Several times over the last few years, I tried them again in the store and found that they broke easily and would not clamp tightly. I got a deal on some Irwin clamps and didn't look at them again.

The one day I received an email from a trusted friend telling me how great the 4-inch clamps worked and that with a coupon I could buy them for $0.99 each. I build toys, and when I am making a large batch of them, I sometimes run out of small clamps. For $0.99 I had to give these a try.

They must not make many of the Pittsburg 4-inch clamps, or they are in high demand because I had to stop by the store several times to get five of them.

Once I got them in the shop and had a chance to play around with them a bit, I found that they worked quite well. Better than the small much more expensive Irwin clamps I have. The best clamps I have in this size and type are DeWalt clamps. So far the Pittsburg Clamps are on par with the DeWalt clamps.

During the first real glue up the clamps slipped just like the old ones and I had to use the DeWalt clamps. What happened? They worked good when I was testing them. Something had to have changed.

I eventually figured out why they slipped. It was my fault. For years I have routinely put johnsons Paste wax on my clamps to keep the glue from sticking to them. Wax on the bar clamps never caused a problem for me before because I was using clamps that had multiple clutch plates and grooves cut in the metal for them to grab. Waxing the Pittsburg Ratcheting Bar Clamps will make them slip.

The fix was easy.  Using a blue paper towel and some mineral spirits, I gave the clamps a good cleaning. After the mineral spirits evaporated, the Pittsburg clamps worked great.

If you need some small light duty clamps, it's hard to go wrong with these. With a coupon, they are only $0.99 each. Without a coupon, they cost $1.49. My DeWalt Trigger Clamps cost $4.99 each, and I had to buy a dozen of them to get that price. The DeWalt clamps are $5.97 each a Home Depot. The IRWIN Micro Handed 2-Pack Clamps are $12.98 for two at Lowes.

On price alone, the Pittsburg clamps are hard to beat but add in Lifetime in-store replacement warranty, and this makes these clamps a must-have for toymakers.

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