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Turning A Sow's Ear Into a Silk Purse

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  • Turning A Sow's Ear Into a Silk Purse

    So there are probably not to many wise Yoda's here that would fall for or admit to this one, but I did and am . I walked into Can Tire one day and they had their Jobmate quick clamps on sale for peanuts. Can't remember the exact number now but I got over 30, in sizes from 16" to 48", I walked out with a smile and 60 lbs of clamps in my arms sticking out all over the place, figuring I got a steal. I soon found out why they were clearing them out so cheap, . The heavy adjustable jaw worked perfectly and was very strong, the problem was with the stationary outboard jaw. It was designed to light to take any significant presser without snapping. I found that out relatively quickly snapping many outboard jaws. What to do? Remove the broken out board and every time you have two broken clamps make one using the two very strong adjusters. Genius , the result was a very strong clamp (have never broken another), easy and accurate to handle and apply, with both hands applying pressure on the adjusters and centering the clamp bar on the clamped workpiece. I liked it so much I took apart all of the 48" clamps that had to much flex in the bars anyway and converted all of my other clamps to "double adjusters". In there size range they now get used the most in the huge collection of clamps I have and I have lots of 48" steel bars for other uses. I would pay double for these clamps what I paid for the defective version, not such a sow's ear .

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  • #2

    Re: Turning A Sow's Ear Into a Silk Purse

    I don't have any but wonder if a wooden jaw could be made to fit for light duty at least?

    Pete

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    • #3

      Re: Turning A Sow's Ear Into a Silk Purse

      Originally posted by QC Inspector View Post
      I don't have any but wonder if a wooden jaw could be made to fit for light duty at least?

      Pete
      Yes and had I not thought of this first that is probably what I would have done. Having gone this way I would never go back, these are easier to handle and strong, I can apply enough press to bend the bars and not break them.
      Last edited by Carlosinthesticks; 03-22-2020, 11:16 AM.

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      • #4

        Re: Turning A Sow's Ear Into a Silk Purse

        I have a bunch of those clamps in various sizes and I love your recovery! None of mine have broken so far but that is one to keep in mind should the need arise.

        Ken

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        • #5

          Re: Turning A Sow's Ear Into a Silk Purse

          Good recovery Carlos !! I only have a couple of those, but my experience was the same as yours. I saved the parts.

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          • #6

            Re: Turning A Sow's Ear Into a Silk Purse

            Yes indeed they do break under pressure. I made wooden replacements and they work well. It takes a bit of experimentation to get the angle on the jaw cut just right though.

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            • #7

              Re: Turning A Sow's Ear Into a Silk Purse

              You guys must really put the squeeze on those clamps!! I use mine as light duty clamps to hold things together until I get the fasteners in; to clamp pieces to the bench for mortice or dovetail work; and in situations where I need something held so that I can get both hands free to put other, heavier duty clamps in place. I don't put all that much force on with these guys which is why I suppose that mine are still all in one piece! I have many other types of clamps that are used for the higher force applications but I am still impressed by Carlos' "what to do with them if...." recovery.

              Ken

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              • #8

                Re: Turning A Sow's Ear Into a Silk Purse

                That sounds great Ken, you sound like a very meticulous builder. Personally I am less meticulous, when I use a clamp I really don't want to have to go look for another clamp to back up the first one. If it can't take the heat and can't be modified to take the heat, then it doesn't belong in the shop, salvage what is useful and chuck the rest.
                Paul Smith likes this.

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                • #9

                  Re: Turning A Sow's Ear Into a Silk Purse

                  probably make a decent spreader too

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                  • #10

                    Re: Turning A Sow's Ear Into a Silk Purse

                    Originally posted by TwoBirds View Post
                    probably make a decent spreader too
                    You got it Bill just reverse the adjusters. I have used them when building my sawmill to spread welded angle that was springing inward after tacking.

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                    • #11

                      Re: Turning A Sow's Ear Into a Silk Purse

                      Originally posted by Carlosinthesticks View Post
                      That sounds great Ken, you sound like a very meticulous builder. Personally I am less meticulous, when I use a clamp I really don't want to have to go look for another clamp to back up the first one. If it can't take the heat and can't be modified to take the heat, then it doesn't belong in the shop, salvage what is useful and chuck the rest.
                      If the tool you use isn't appropriate for the task you are using it for, it might fail; light-duty clamps are surely the same? I am meticulous in the shop (guilty as charged!) and rarely break anything as a consequence. That said, the failure rate of tools is often not so much the design/execution but rather the misappropriation of the tool. Pipes over the handles of ratchets or bashing a ratchet handle with a hammer are examples that spring to mind.

                      I don't know that clamps can be made such that no one could break or bend them; that is asking too much of an inexpensive light duty tool like the ones under discussion.

                      Bill, these clamps can be used as spreaders in the first place since the jaws are easily removed and transferred to the other end; inside out if you will. I think that they are pretty good clamps and have certainly gotten my money's worth out of mine in my hobby. And I still like Carlos' recovery should one break!

                      Ken

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                      • #12

                        Re: Turning A Sow's Ear Into a Silk Purse

                        Originally posted by KenL View Post

                        If the tool you use isn't appropriate for the task you are using it for, it might fail; light-duty clamps are surely the same? I am meticulous in the shop (guilty as charged!) and rarely break anything as a consequence. That said, the failure rate of tools is often not so much the design/execution but rather the misappropriation of the tool. Pipes over the handles of ratchets or bashing a ratchet handle with a hammer are examples that spring to mind.

                        I don't know that clamps can be made such that no one could break or bend them; that is asking too much of an inexpensive light duty tool like the ones under discussion.

                        Bill, these clamps can be used as spreaders in the first place since the jaws are easily removed and transferred to the other end; inside out if you will. I think that they are pretty good clamps and have certainly gotten my money's worth out of mine in my hobby. And I still like Carlos' recovery should one break!

                        Ken
                        Being meticulous is nothing to feel guilty about, no one said it was. Anyone who uses a hammer on a ratchet handle shouldn't be allowed near tools unless he is willing to pay double for any tools he treats in that manner . Light duty was the sows ear here, a light duty squeeze for me may not be a light duty squeeze for you, no one should have to gage a close approximation of how much press to put on a clamp because if you happen to go over a bit it will break, thats a defective tool no if's, ands, or butts about it. There is a reason why they discontinued those clamps AKA they had a defective stationary jaw, designed to light duty for the pressure that the adjustable jaw could deliver.
                        Redneck Albertan likes this.

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                        • #13

                          Re: Turning A Sow's Ear Into a Silk Purse

                          Originally posted by Carlosinthesticks View Post

                          You got it Bill just reverse the adjusters. I have used them when building my sawmill to spread welded angle that was springing inward after tacking.
                          After mine broke I saved the parts (as I said), but I also turned one around to use as a spreader for opening up snowblower auger buckets when doing gearbox or fanshaft bearing repairs. It makes it easier to put the auger assembly back in ....

                          And no, it didn't take much to break the ones I broke.

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                          • #14

                            Re: Turning A Sow's Ear Into a Silk Purse

                            Originally posted by Carlosinthesticks View Post

                            Being meticulous is nothing to feel guilty about, no one said it was. Anyone who uses a hammer on a ratchet handle shouldn't be allowed near tools unless he is willing to pay double for any tools he treats in that manner . Light duty was the sows ear here, a light duty squeeze for me may not be a light duty squeeze for you, no one should have to gage a close approximation of how much press to put on a clamp because if you happen to go over a bit it will break, thats a defective tool no if's, ands, or butts about it. There is a reason why they discontinued those clamps AKA they had a defective stationary jaw, designed to light duty for the pressure that the adjustable jaw could deliver.
                            I did not suggest that I feel guilty about being meticulous; a lifetime spent in aviation makes you that way and it is a very good thing. I was not being defensive since I did not assume that to be an insult! I enjoy the discussion and the differing perspectives else I would not join in.

                            We disagree somewhat about these being a defective tool; there is a weak link in every chain; that the outer jaw of these particular clamps is the potential failure point is obvious by examination of the configuration. Since mine are still going strong years after I bought them; and given that they have been used a lot (I wore the clutch fingers out in one of the small 5 inch ones, that is a lot of use), my contention is that they were a decent buy even in their original configuration. I, for one, am not at all surprised that they can be broken; in my life doing failure analyses in the aerospace business, I have seen things broken/damaged that would make you shake your head in wonderment. These Job Mate tools were cheap and are pretty useful but not failure proof and certainly cannot substitute for pipe/bar/heavy-duty clamps.

                            In the case of our inexpensive clamps, the long ones are very good indicators of the load range suitable for them as the 48 inch ones bow significantly with very little force on the handle. That is all the force they are good for; regardless of the length of clamp; as all of the other components are the same. I did try clamping a scale (to substitute for a force transducer; I don't have one of those in my stuff!) to my workbench and would estimate that the maximum force they can apply safely is only about 100 pounds and it does not take a crushing grip to achieve. I would have designed them differently but then they probably couldn't be retailed at CTC's price point. One caveat to all of this is that my clamps are never used or stored other than at room temperature. Cold temperatures make plastics significantly more brittle which would be a huge factor in how much force it would take to fracture the outer jaw (I am not volunteering to test mine to plot the temperature curve).

                            I still really like your recovery and will file it away for just in case; it certainly removes the obvious weakest link and still leaves you with a useful tool. What's not to like?

                            Ken

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                            • #15

                              Re: Turning A Sow's Ear Into a Silk Purse

                              Thats great that you have good service out of your clamps. As mentioned at the start of this thread the 48"ers had to much flex in the bars so it was an easy decision to break those down for bar stock and to turn the smaller inferior clamps into superior clamps. In the smaller sizes the modification is as strong and break-proof as any of the other types of clamps I have and with two hand operation far more accurate and easy to use. But I am repeating my self now, cheers.

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