This is How to Carefully Buy Harbor Freight Clamps, your guide to picking out woodworking clamps from Harbor Freight that will serve you well in your shop for years to come. I’ll show you everything you need to know to avoid buying junk. Enjoy.
Harbor Freight Clamps
There is such an attraction to buying tools from Harbor freight, and it’s one of those things were sometimes it feels too good to be true. Having purchased tools in the past, you know how good it feels to get a great deal.
This is where you can do really well at Harbor Freight, but you can also make some mistakes if you don’t know what you’re looking for. In general, you get what you pay for, but sometimes you can find a good deal and still get a good product.
Woodworking clamps are one of those purchases that can creep up on your budget. It takes a lot of clamps to be a woodworker, and even though they may not be super expensive individually, collectively they do add up.
There’s nothing wrong with getting some of your clamps from Harbor Freight. You just have to keep an eye out for a few things in order to make sure that the smoking deal you’re getting is really going to be good in the long term.
I’ll show you what you need to know, and you be able to use that information to make a good purchase. Here is the list, and I’ll go into each one of these important points in detail further down in the post.
- Inexpensive Tools and Saving Money
- Look for Fewer Parts and Mechanisms
- Metal Parts vs Plastic
- Read Online Reviews
- Do a Smell Test / Gut Check
- Safer Clamp Styles
- Buy a Couple Before Investing
Inexpensive Tools and Saving Money
Let’s face it, the only attraction that you are going to have to getting clamps from Harbor Freight is their price. These tools are not going to be shiny at all, and there’s nothing flashy or eye-catching about them.
You’ll never see a commercial about discount tool store clamps, there are no celebrity endorsers, and all of the hoopla and fanfare are just completely absent from in the situation. Truthfully, the only reason to get them is the price.
Now that’s not exactly a bad thing, because getting a deal is always appreciated, especially in woodworking. That being said, these few things coming up will show you how to make sure your short term savings don’t end up becoming a long-term loss.
For example, if you buy clamps that last several years and then you have to buy them again, you could’ve just as well bought one set of clamps that was twice as expensive and would last twice as long.
In this example, you would get to enjoy the better clamps for the full duration of time rather than having average clamps for two durations of time. Keep the long-term in mind when you’re making your decision on an expensive tool.
See Also: 9 Great Tips for Storing Wood Clamps
Look for Fewer Parts and Mechanisms
The first thing to check out on the woodworking clamps at Harbor Freight is the amount of parts and mechanisms that are in place on the clamp itself. This is important, because the more parts there are, in general the more problems there can be.
This is true of woodworking tools and the true of other things in life as well. Think about your car. It’s really nice to have an automobile with all of the bells and whistle‘s that you could think of. The problem is that the more than you have, the more things can break.
If you have a car with manual windows, I can personally guarantee that the motors in your doors will never go bad, simply because you don’t have any. When you’re looking for clamps, think about the number of parts, and what could possibly go wrong with those parts.
Since you may be taking a chance on a brand you’ve never heard of, or a design that’s a little different than you are used to, looking for something with less parts is it a stronger indication of how long the tool can last.
See Also: 13 Myths About Getting Into Woodworking
Metal Parts vs Plastic
Another thing to pay attention to you is the type of materials that are used in making the wood clamp. There are lots of different materials in this world, and they are not all created equal. It’s important to know what your clamp is made out of, but it’s easy to tell.
In general, the clamp is going to be made out of either metal, wood or plastic. There are also going to be some cases where there are all present, and there may even be a little bit of wood on something like a handle.
Take a look at those parts and pieces, and play with the clamp a little bit in the store. The material that it’s made out of is going to make a difference, because metal parts tend to do better than plastic parts.
For example, the common C clamp is made completely out of metal. There’s very little that can go wrong with it, and they last a very long time. In a case like this, buying from a discount tool store is a safer gamble.
Read Online Reviews
Something else is important is reading reviews. Though you can find reviews easily on the Harbor Freight website, right by the product, it’s also a good idea to look for third-party reviews that are written on other websites on the internet.
This is where you can hear real stories from people that own the products, and they’ll show you what they really think about them. You may even find videos on YouTube where the product is demonstrated, and you can see the quality first hand.
There are a lot of people that make videos and post articles about the products that they use. They leave great feedback to benefit the next person that might buy the same thing. Look around for several reviews and take the combined average.
What this means is don’t take one review at face value and act based upon it. Make sure to find several and look for the consensus between them. This is how to avoid being fooled by one persons really good or really bad experience.
Do a Smell Test / Gut Check
This particular method of deciding whether discount wood clamps are good or not is a little bit more intuitive than the others. However, it’s important to get in tune with your gut when it comes to making decisions.
If you are like the average person, you just kind of get a feeling every once in a while that something isn’t right. It’s that sense in your gut that tells you to be careful, or that tells you something might be too good to be true.
When you’re buying tools on a really good deal, listen to your gut. If you’re holding the tool in your hand and you just know in your gut that it’s not a very good tool, don’t buy it. However, if you feel the opposite way then go ahead and buy it.
It’s important to trust your internal judgment. It’s a part of you that has kept humans out of trouble for a very long time. Trust your instincts, and if something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
Safer Clamp Styles
When you’re looking for woodworking clamps, especially at a discount tool retailer, you can definitely find some good deals. There’s nothing wrong with these types of stores, you just need to pay attention to what you buy.
For woodworking clamps, there are generally speaking certain styles that are safer to purchase than others. In this case, all you need to do if you’re concerned with the quality of what you’re buying is to focus on these safer designs.
Most of the low-tech clamps like c-clamps, cam clamps, and wood screw clamps are pretty hard to mess up, even at the cheap level. As long as the clamp looks about like any other clamp you’ve bought, and you test it out and like the way it feels, you should be fine.
That being said, there still one other thing that I recommend you do before you take home any large quantity of clamps. It’s a small step, and it takes a small amount of time, but it can make a huge difference.
Buy a Couple Before Investing
If you think you’ve really found a deal, buy a couple of the clamps first as a test. Bring them home into the shop, and beat the living daylights out of them. Put them through their paces, and don’t let up until you get your results.
This doesn’t mean be intentionally abusive, but what it means is take those clamps and test them to their limits. Crank up a lot of pressure, pull on the handle is a little hard, and be a little bit more rough with the tool.
If you can get these clamps to survive a few weeks in your shop, and put them through several different exercises and they live, then you probably have a pretty good purchase to look forward to.
Like anything, you need to be leery of what you buy. Something that seems like a tremendous deal in the short term can end up being an awful deal in the long run. Do the right thing, and take your time making your decision.
Your Action Assignment
Now that you know how to buy Harbor Freight clamps for your woodworking shop and get a good deal as well as a good product, it’s time to take action. Grab those car keys and head over to Harbor Freight.
Take a look around at some of the different clamps that they offer. You can definitely do really well as a beginner by stocking up on a good variety of different clamps. Put them through the tests that you learned in this post, and that will help you make a good decision.
If you have any questions about buying woodworking clamps from Harbor Freight, please post a question and I’ll be glad to answer them. Happy building.
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