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Bessey Edge Clamp Solutions
Installing banding has never been so "Bessey Easy"
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted - 6-14-2010
Edge banding has often been the most aggravating part of a project especially if using air-driven mechanical fasteners goes against your sense of what is right and wrong. For those of us who are limited to only two hands, edge banding can get down right frustrating. The folks at Bessey have obviously been there, done that and came away from the experience motivated to develop better ideas. As you might expect, the number one company in clamps has once again made the woodworking world a bunch easier and decidedly less frustrating.
This review looks at four edge clamp variations that Bessey came up with. It is apparent that understanding woodworking and then applying their extensive engineering know-how has allowed Bessey to offer clamps that actually work as we expect with a durability they are known for all over the world.
Bessey B-EC3, 3-Way Edge Clamp
Though the simplest in design the B-EC3, 3-Way Edge Clamp is surprisingly versatile. With 2-1/2" of throat depth and 2-1/2" of clamping range the simple screw jaw design means that the B-EC3, 3-Way Edge Clamp can be offset on the edge of most stock thicknesses for when the edging has an offset profile. Being able to align the center jaw with the best part of edging profiles lets you apply force exactly where it is needed for cleaner, more secure glue-ups.
Floating heads on each of the clamping screws promote solid clamping on the substrate as well as rounded or odd-shaped edging. Each of the clamping screws has a simple straight handle that makes applying force easy and tool free. The B-EC3, 3-Way Edge Clamp develops a very stout 300 pounds of clamping force that makes securing edge banding against even rounded shapes as easy as on a straight edge.
With a street price of just $10.55 each (5-25-2010) the all cast iron and steel B-EC3, 3-Way Edge Clamp is as tough as it is easy to use. You really have to do something strange to kill most Bessey clamps and the B-EC3, 3-Way Edge Clamp is certainly in that "toughness" category. Get a handful of Bessey B-EC3, 3-Way Edge Clamps and they will make your edge banding life easier forever.
Bar Clamp Companions
Need to clamp an edging strip but have bar clamps in the way? Not a problem with Bessey's KT5-1CP and KT5-2 clamps. Both are designed to use the bars themselves (bars up to 1/2"-thick) as a base from which to apply pressure on the edge. The KT5-1CP has a single screw and the KT5-2 has two. Both use the bar as an anchor point and allow you to apply pressure exactly where needed. These clamps are especially handy because they allow you to do both a glue-up of major project components and apply edge banding at the same time. That saves shop time without sacrificing the quality of the work.
Both the KT5-1CP and KT5-2 feature the familiar Bessey-red handle that turns a cleanly formed Acme threaded shaft that makes applying plenty of force a quick, no-strain event. The clamping end of the shafts feature a ball-mounted disk with a no-mar cover that helps it conform to the surface to develop the maximum grip without messing up your sanding job. Both also feature solid cast iron bodies that insure they will have a very long Bessey-type useful life.
Another nice feature of the KT5-1CP and KT5-2 clamps are their prices. The KT5-1CP is currently (6-6-2010) selling for $11.99 each. The KT5-2 sells for $15.99 each! Neither are budget-breakers!
EKT-55 One-Handed Edge Clamp
Perhaps the most intriguing of these Bessey offerings is their EKT-55 edge clamp that allows you to secure edge banding with one hand. Installing edge banding with one hand could be considered pure showing off. However, using the Bessey EKT-55 mean that for normally equipped humans, having only two hands just became less of a hindrance. Though designed from the ground up the EKT-55 makes use of the traditional Bessey-built Acme thread on the shafts but after that this is a whole new animal.
A system of arms and pivots mean that when you turn the single handle two opposing clamping pads as well as the edge clamping disk all advance on the wood at the same time. With a range of 3/8" to 2", the EKT-55 will handle just about anything you have in the shop that needs edge banding!
The EKT-55 develops up to 500 lbs of clamping pressure and does it progressively. It also has a sort of "memory" in that when loosened it stays in place until you can remove it. Also, unless you turn the handle, the EKT-55 is ready to be applied to the next set of identical parts for those types of operations.
A tip for the excessive force group. Bessey recommends backing the EKT-55 down to zero between major jobs to reset the jaws. If you keep cranking it down excessively at one setting range it can lose some clamping force. You shouldn't be cranking it down that hard anyway but I know some will no matter what we say here!
The u-shaped aluminum frame contains the composite arms and levers that apply pressure through non-marring pads. The screw shaft is also equipped with a protected round disk that contacts the banding. This is the only one in this group of Bessey clamps that has a new handle design. But fear not. Though round and nicely sized this ergonomically designed grip is "Bessey comfortable" to use.
In the Shop
The first thing I noticed about the Bessey edge clamps is that they embody the same Bessey quality we see in all of their offerings. Along with a very long life, that quality in design, materials and manufacturing mean that they will work as we expect them to every time. Price means nothing is the tool doesn't work and Bessey tools work, every time.
One of the things I really like about all of the Bessey edge clamps is that they reach around the edge material and apply force only to its face. That means that when necessary you can easily install edge banding that is slightly wider than the substrate it is being applied to. That lets you use your favorite tools to work the edging down perfectly flush with the body.
All of the Bessey edge clamps are easy to apply for use and really do make installing edge banding much easier. No nails, staples or tape that spreads glue squeeze-out. The amount of pressure each of the edge clamp designs is capable of delivering is way beyond what rational people apply. That low-stress-life means that they will keep on working and working like that aggravating little bunny in the commercials.
If you do edge banding it is in your best interests to do it right and get a load of Bessey edge clamps. The range of design and pricing covers the needs of everyone from the home woodshop to fast-paced pro shops. With very reasonable prices even the hobbyist can equip their shops with a selection of Bessey edge clamps without blowing the budget. If you are looking for edge clamps the Bessey offerings are a win, win, win deal in terms of design, price and quality. It just doesn't get much better than that.
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