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Bessey Angle Clamps
Easy precision, unique function
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Bessey Angle Clamps make the once difficult chore of forming 90-degree corners or T-Joints - and doing both accurately - easy. These clamps feature precision cast jaws with a ingenious feature that make aligning even dissimilar-thickness pieces of wood easy. Plus, the traditional Bessey quality means that their Angle Clamps will keep on working without surprise for a very long time.
Auto Adjusting Jaws
The Bessey Angle Clamps are available in two sizes, the WS-3 that has a maximum thickness capacity of 4" (2" per side) and the WS-6 with an 8"(4" per side) maximum
capacity. Both are equipped with die cast metal jaws with their faces forming a very accurate 90-degree corner. The WS-3 has a 1-1/8" T-Joint capacity while the WS-6 can accommodate 2-7/16" T-Joint stock. The jaws have clean, flat faces that are given a plastic coating that protects the wood and helps minimize glue transfer to the clamps.
Both the fixed and moveable jaws are mounted on swivels that let them auto-adjust to two different stock thicknesses as is often encountered when assembling a window sash or installing a divider in a box. This T-joint capability is very handy and because the jaws are so accurate, creating an equally accurate joint is nearly automatic. The moveable jaw on the WS-6 has a specially shaped boss that allows you to tip the jaw to slide it to a new position quickly. Then, with the jaw returned to the level position, the threads on the shaft are engaged so pressure can be applied to the wood. The moveable jaw on the WS-3 does not have this feature.
The T-Joint openings on the main jaws provide ample access for installing joint-strengthening fasteners. Being able to install most fastener types while the joint is securely clamped precisely at 90-degrees increases the overall accuracy of your woodworking and helps you make stronger joints.
The fixed and moveable jaws on both versions of the Bessey Angle Clamps have holes incorporated into the lower edge that accept the Bessey TK-6 Table Clamps. With these accessory clamps you can secure the Bessey Angle Clamps to the work surface to make getting the wood in and clamped a much easier task with the human limitation of two hands.
The Bessey Angle Clamp jaws apply pressure when the traditional Bessey red handle is turned. The handle is large enough to be comfortable but it is the Acme thread that it drives that is the real secret behind the easy operation of the Bessey Angle Clamps. The Acme thread is favored because it applies pressure quickly but with minimal effort. Bessey galvanizes the screw shaft to prevent corrosion and loss of performance.
The jaws are mounted on composite bushings that ride on this shaft. The moveable jaw has corresponding Acme threads in its bushing that eliminate play or "skipping" even when lots of pressure is applied.
In the Shop
If there is a consistent problem in woodworking it is getting parts that are supposed to be square actually assembled square to each other in the finished project. The Bessey Angle Clamps make that operation a virtual no-brainer. If you cut the wood square and put the pieces in the Bessey Angle Clamps correctly, it is actually difficult to not achieve a square corner or T-Joint.
The swivel-mounted jaws also make joining different thickness pieces very easy to do. You don't have to pre-set anything - just put the wood in the clamps and tighten the Bessey Angle Clamps down. Here again, if the wood is cut square, the Bessey Angle Clamps will help you make a perfect 90-degree joint. That same feature makes forming T-Joints such as the ones used in cabinets or window frames fast and very accurate.
Though they are an added cost accessory, I like using the TK-6 Table Clamps to secure the Bessey Angle Clamps to the work surface. They make getting two pieces of wood into the clamps and applying pressure much easier to do with both hands free.
As I have come to expect from all things Bessey, their Angle Clamps are very well made and work exactly as Bessey describes. With a street price of $39.99 for the WS-3 and $69.99 for the WS-6 (8-25-2009) the Bessey Angle Clamps are a good value for the average home woodworker. Quality construction and ease of use will make building accurate corners much easier now and well into the future.
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