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Bessey® PowerGrip One-Handed Clamp
When one-handed really is one-handed
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted - 7-20-2010
The idea of a one-handed clamp has been around for a long time. There are several clamps on the market that can be operated with one hand to some degree but often require a disregard for a couple laws of physics. The Bessey® PowerGrip reviewed here is the first one I have seen that is truly one-handed and easy to use that way! Not surprisingly as Bessey® developed this clamp they combined technologies from other Bessey® clamps in the process. The result is a really good idea that woodworkers who frequently work alone are going to love.
The Bessey® PowerGrip is built around a tough bar that has been drawn and tempered using Bessey's own steel and processes. Naturally the one-piece bar has the familiar Bessey® hourglass shape that enhances its rigidity.
What the bar does not have is the serrated edges many other Bessey® clamps use to lock the pressure arm. Rather the Bessey® PowerGrip uses a set of locking plates contained within the composite handle. This gripping system is very secure and easily capable of withstanding the 1000-LBS of force this clamp is capable of developing. This gripping system was also central to making this a truly one-handed clamp.
The moveable arm is also high-quality steel and designed to withstand the clamping pressure. Both contact surfaces have removable plastic caps that prevent marring of sensitive woods. These caps also do not "stain" the wood as can happen with some metals when in contact with wood and glue at the same time. I also like these plastic caps because they make chipping off dried glue simple.
Squeeze and Turn
The composite handle protruding from the composite grip is what makes the Bessey® PowerGrip truly one-handed. Each time you squeeze the lever the moveable jaw closes about 1/4". You can hold the Bessey® PowerGrip by the screw handle or the grip that surrounds the main bar. Squeezing the lever from either produces the same movement of the jaw!
To reset the moveable jaw you depress a red button on the outside of the grip area. Depressing this button lets you slide the moveable jaw wherever needed easily, which makes pre-adjusting for the job at hand very quick. You must relieve clamping pressure with the screw handle before this button works.
Squeezing the lever produces enough pressure to hold the clamp in place but it is the Bessey® red screw handle that applies the full pressure. You will note that the screw has the precisely formed Acme thread that Bessey® uses on nearly all of their clamps because it generates substantial clamping pressures quickly and smoothly. This thread is also very resistant to being influenced by dust contamination.
In the Shop
I really have little to say about the Bessey® PowerGrip other than it works exactly as they say. If anything, using this clamp is easier than I expected. The dual action of the lever is the key to the ease of use.
The 1000-LB clamping pressure the Bessey® PowerGrip is capable of developing is at the very least adequate. We woodworkers tend to use far more pressure than is necessary and the Bessey® PowerGrip certainly will do that with ease if you tell it to. Applying an appropriate amount of clamping pressure is easier yet.
The grip and screw handles are comfortable to use and feel very secure in the hand even when installing the Bessey® PowerGrip at an odd angle. In fact, using this clamp at odd angles is where the Bessey® PowerGrip really shines over other so-called one-hand clamps. Because you can hold the Bessey® PowerGrip however you like and still have full use of the lever action applying it in odd situations is surprisingly easy.
Of course, if you are at all familiar with Bessey® products the quality of the Bessey® PowerGrip will be no surprise. Bessey® uses the right materials for the job and their engineering/manufacturing of anything related to clamping is second to none. The Bessey® PowerGrip clamps are a very good value for the woodworker because of the traditional Bessey® durability that insures a very long life in the shop.
The Bessey® PowerGrip clamps are available in two versions, both with a 4"-deep throat. The PG-12 has a 12" clamping capacity and the PG-24 a 24" capacity. Other than length, both versions are identical.
If you find yourself fumbling while trying to use your current clamps with one hand, the Bessey® PowerGrip is probably the answer you are looking for. Since getting the Bessey® PowerGrip clamps in my shop, they are never out of reach when I am assembling anything.
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