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Parallel clamps can be... tricksters.
Sometimes the heads break. Sometimes they bend out of shape, or don’t clamp tightly enough.
And what about the awkward handles that make your hands cramp. So, is there any hope for parallel clamps?
There are clamps out there that tighten with serious force without giving your hands a workout. There are clamps out there where you don’t have to jiggle the handle like a stick shift just to get it to move.
The best part?
We’ve got the five best parallel clamps that we’re crazy about, here we go...
1. BESSEY KR3.550 JAW PARALLEL CLAMPS (Top Pick)
2. BESSEY KRK 2450 (Premium Pick)
3. Jet 70424-2 (A good alternative to premium pick)
4. Bessey KR3.524 (Best for the money)
5. Jet 70411 (Cabinet Door Set)
Have a look, and maybe today will be the day you find a set of clamps worthy of respect and admiration.
(Best parallel clamp)
BESSEY KRK 2450
24-inch(2packs), 50-inch (2packs)
(A good alternative to premium pick)
(Cabinet Door Set)
24-inch (2packs), 40-inch (2packs)
5 Best Parallel Clamps - Reviews
1. Best Overall - Bessey KR3.550 (2-pack 50-Inch clamps)
We’ve got the best clamps for you right off the bat:
They’re long, they’re strong, and they’ll be excellent partners for your big glue-ups. These clamps don’t sacrifice comfort for performance, however. The soft handles tighten easily and will keep your hands from cramping up.
These clamps will have heads rolling:
These Besseys boast a bite of 1,500 pounds. That’s more than enough force to crack a human skull three times over!
Seriously soft handles...
The ergonomic designed 2 component molded soft grip handle sits nicely in the hand. It’s got a partly rubbery feel to it, which makes it easier to get a grip when tightening the clamp.
What materials are being used?
Steel alloy rails give you the strength necessary for the biggest tasks. They’ve got six serrated edges for slip-proof clamping always.
As long as they are strong...
Two 50” clamps will come in handy during any large glue-up. At 50”, you won’t find any longer clamps on this list.
A little brittle up top:
The plastic heads on these Bessey clamps could be a little stronger. Try not to drop them on the floor.
Bessey? More like “best-y”
You’re looking for the best, and these are #1 for a reason. They’re long enough and strong enough to handle any job you throw at them. You’ll tackle heavy jobs with ease and comfort due to the soft handles.
2. Premium Pick - Bessey KRK2450
Take a bite...
1500lbs of clamping force makes the Bessey KRK2450’s bite more powerful than a polar bear.
The zinc-plated handles feel decent in the hand. We’ve definitely felt more comfortable, thicker handles, but these do the job.
Seriously solid construction:
The alloy cast frame makes sure these clamps stay straight for a long time. The soft, non-marring jaw pads keep your work protected even when clamping at high pressures.
You’ve got options...
This set has both 24” and 50” clamps to cover just about any job you can think of. The 3 3/4” throat depth grabs your work like a T-Rex and doesn’t let go.
A big bite from fragile jaws:
Some found that the plastic jaws break somewhat easily, especially during shipping.
A solid set, if you can handle it...
We love the power and variety this clamp set offers. The handles don’t quite compare to JET’s Sumogrip handles. Plastic parts may break during shipping.
3. Budget Pick - Bessey KR3.524 (2-pack 24 inch clamps)
Short and sweet:
These two 24” Bessey clamps are perfect for smaller jobs: also for when you’re not trying to break the bank.
Bessey’s got the bite...
The 1500lbs of clamping force on these Besseys will grip whatever you need them to.
Soft handles keep your fingers fresh:
Forget about hand cramps. The molded soft-grip handle makes gripping and torquing a breeze--you can crank these bad boys all day without feeling a thing.
Strong materials and conscious design go hand in hand...
The cold drawn steel alloy rail with six serrated edges on these Bessey clamps keeps your clamping secure and slip-proof.
The shorties on the block:
At 24” long, these clamps aren’t going to handle huge tabletop glue-ups. But they’ve got a deep throat and the heads stay parallel as pie.
Just don’t let any glue dry on these clamps...
It can be a hassle to scrape off and will make your clamps unusable. The fragile plastic part between the handle and screw has been known to break, so watch out for that.
A bold budget pick...
These clamps give you the best of Bessey without breaking the bank. They’re short: perfect for smaller jobs. And the handles feel so good, you won’t wanna let go!
4. A good alternative to premium pick - Jet 70424-2
Jet deals in ease-of-use:
What this pack of two 24” Jet clamps lacks in size, it makes up for in ease-of-use. The handles and quick-release lever make your clamping both comfortable and efficient.
The Jet can’t bite like Bessey...
1,000 pounds of clamping force means you do sacrifice about 500 pounds from the Besseys.
1,000 pounds of force on 24” clamps is still going to get the job done lickety split.
Sumogrip handles will leave you unable to let go:
Jet really shines with their handles. They’re soft and wide for extra comfort and extra torque. Really some of the best handles out there.
Aluminum design and composite resin jaw faces...
...give these Jet clamps a hefty, substantial feel and keep them attached securely to your work.
Quick release makes speedy clamping a breeze:
Glue-ups are fast-paced environments. You want to be able to get your work clamped quick.
Here’s the deal:
These Jets get that done with their Slide-Glide trigger. Pull the trigger, slide the clamp up, and tighten, instantaneously.
A word of caution:
Due to poor quality control and/or shipping, the jaws may not be parallel. Be sure to check when they arrive.
Using these clamps is a pleasure:
This set of Jets comes with two 24” clamps so it won’t do huge jobs. They outshine the Bessey clamps on the list because of their Sumogrip handles and quick release trigger.
Those two brilliant design choices make these Jets the king of ease-of-use.
5. Jet 70411 Parallel Clamp Cabinet Door Set
The Jet variety pack:
This Jet big boy pack comes with four clamps: two 24” and two 40” clamps.
Maybe more bark than bite...
The clamps in this Jet 70411 set are advertised to give you a solid 1000lbs clamping power.
In terms of clamping power, the Besseys have the Jets beat. But you can definitely get by with 1000 pounds.
That’s the same bite force as a tiger!
Singin Sumogrip praises:
Jet’s Sumogrip handles really shine for this set. Their soft, wide construction makes them both comfortable to hold and increases the torque.
Composite resin jaw faces make your life easier...
...making sure the clamps don’t stick to your work during a glue-up: the aluminum design gives the clamps a heft you can feel.
Slide and glide, nice and wide:
With two 24” and two 40” clamps, you’ll have all your bases covered. The Slide-Glide trigger makes these clamps easier than ever to adjust.
What does that mean for you?
No more fiddling with pushing and pulling handles. I don’t know how many minutes I’ve wasted jiggling clamp handles to get them to loosen up.
With Jet clamps, just press a button, slide and boom.
Clamps that live big and die young...
These are some heavy clamps. Be careful if you’re going to use them off the bench.
They also wear somewhat quickly. As they wear, clamp will lessen in strength.
The daddy of clamp sets, both heavy and soft:
This Jet set will cover your needs with the variety of sizes it offers. The weight of the clamp and size of the face make this a heavy duty clamp.
The bottom line?
These jets win on comfort and ease-of-use, with their Sumogrip handles and Slide-Glide quick release triggers.
Benefits of having parallel jaw clamps
Keep work flat during a glue-up:
This is the most important thing that parallel clamps do. If a clamp’s faces aren’t parallel, they can clamp your work unevenly.
This can lead to bowing or twisting in your wood that’s near impossible to get rid of after the glue-up.
If you’re making a door or a tabletop, you want your piece as flat as possible during gluing.
If the wood is bowed or twisted after your glue-up, it will only get worse with time.
Parallel clamps are heavy-duty clamps for serious jobs. Their jaws are generally longer than those of pipe clamps.
With a larger jaw you can clamp a larger surface area leading to a firmer grip.
That means your piece has less risk of slipping during the glue-up.
The bottom line?
If you’re working on a big piece--a drawer, or a box--you’re going to want to clamp as much surface area as you can.
You wouldn’t try to push a car out of the snow with a pencil. Applying force to a small area increases the risk of slipping or twisting.
Parallel clamps’ big jaws decrease that risk significantly.
The long jaws of parallel clamps also come padded. The last thing you want on your beautiful wood after a glue-up is a bunch of ugly clamp marks.
The pads protect your work.
But that’s not all:
They’re made from materials that won’t stick to your wood after gluing.
This saves you the hassle of unsticking clamps from your work--and potentially damaging it in the process.
Change out pads, heads:
Some parallel clamps have accesories out there to make your work more efficient.
Say you need a smaller, thinner jaw to cover more surface area of your work. Pop off one head and replace it with another.
Can use for spreading as well as clamping.
They’re called clamps right? They clamp.
But they can actually spread too. If you remove on head and flip it the other way round, you can use your clamp as a spreader.
This is useful when repairing old furniture. Twists and lumps and bows naturally form with age:
You may need a spreader to bend them into shape. Here, parallel clamps serve a second purpose.
icon credit: Clamp by Creaticca Creative Agency from the Noun Project