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Bessey Clippix Spring Clamps
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted - 11-14-2009
Remember when spring clamps were just spring clamps? These simple material holding tools have been around forever and have been limited by that simplicity for just as long. Because they are hand operated the springs could only be so strong and the capacity limited as well. Spring clamps stayed that way for decades - until Bessey decided to take another look and expanded on the concept.
Bessey began by moving from the traditional steel to a high tech polyamide material that makes their new version of the spring clamps, the Bessey Clippix clamps strong yet light. The properties of this polyamide material also removed barriers for the Bessey designers who were able to come up with innovative ways of increasing the usefulness of these clamps in more situations commonly experienced by normal woodworkers.
User Friendly Design
The Bessey Clippix clamps were all designed to be used by real humans with hand sizes and strengths known to actually exist in human hands. That ergonomic design begins with gently arched handles that feature smooth rubber-like overmolds. These handles give you a solid sense of grip without sacrificing comfort.
The handle-jaw pieces that make up each half of the clamps are precision molded from the very tough polyamide material that provides high strength with exceptionally low weight. Each handle-jaw piece has engineered webbing molded within their interior cavities that make them surprisingly rigid.
At the center of each Bessey Clippix clamp is a heavy-duty hinge pin that keeps the jaws moving in a smooth, aligned motion. Tough, high-quality springs that appear oversized for the application provide plenty of clamping pressure for this type of clamp without making the user grimace from the effort.
Clippix Needle Nose
One of the simplest versions of the Bessey Clippix clamp line actually looks very little like the spring clamps of old. The Clippix Needle Nose clamps are relatively narrow but with a deceptively long reach that makes them easier to use in a bunch of common woodworking situations. The jaws are molded with internal reinforcing webs that make them surprisingly rigid despite the length. Because the jaws have a long, gentle arc, their overall height above the material being clamped is reduced which increases clearance for other tools or operations.
The ends of the jaws each have a curved, non-marring tip that protects the workpiece. The shape of these tips insures that they have a consistent grip regardless of stock thickness.
The XCL2 version of the Bessey Clippix Needle Nose clamps has a throat depth of 2" and a clamping thickness limit of 2". The XCL5 version has a 4" throat depth with a 3" thickness capacity. With a total weight of .04-pounds for the XCL2 and .07-pounds for the XCL5 using these clamps is not likely to wear you out.
VarioClippix - Single Jaw
Though more in line with the traditional spring clamp shape the VarioClippix sports a dramatically increased thickness capacity thanks to a single moveable jaw/arm. One jaw is fixed but the other slips over a serrated arm and can be adjusted in or out to fit surprisingly thick material. The XV3-50 version has a throat depth of 1-1/2" and a maximum thickness capacity of 2-1/8"! The XV5-100 VarioClippix variation has a throat depth of 2" and a maximum thickness capacity of 4"!
The moveable jaw slips over the deep serrations easily without tools. When in the desired position, clamping pressure locks the arm solidly to the serrations to eliminate slippage. The angle of the serrated arm allows you to keep the jaws parallel to each other at virtually any of the thickness settings that clamp is capable of. This is a simple yet very effective design that gives the VarioClippix a substantially enlarged clamping range without sacrificing ease of use.
The tips of the VarioClippix jaws are fitted with generously sized non-marring tips that protect the workpiece. The jaw tips are mounted on a swivel that allows their flat gripping surface to evenly grip the stock regardless of thickness. Again, simple yet very effective.
VarioClippix - Double Jaw
Need even more thickness range? TheXV5-170 version of the VarioClippix has dual adjustable arms that increase its thickness capacity even more. The double jaw VarioClippix has a throat depth of 2" and a maximum thickness capacity of a whopping 6-1/2"!
Like the singe jaw VarioClippix, the jaws feature non-marring tips mounted on swivels. Combined with the repositionable arms these tips insure a firm grip on all stock thicknesses it is capable of clamping.
In the Shop
Using the Bessey Clippix clamps doesn't take much getting used to. They work just like any spring clamp you may have used in the preceding few decades except way better in nearly every respect. Probably the biggest difference to get used to with the Bessey Clippix clamps is the increased clamping thickness capacities. The took a little while to get it in my head that I could use the Bessey Clippix clamps in many more situations because of that extra capacity.
The jaw tip design is not to be minimized either. Because the jaw tips grasp the wood so evenly they tend to shift the pieces of wood less when pressure is applied than I have experienced with other spring clamp designs. The non-marring (non-staining) material that the jaw tips are made from eliminates having to tape or otherwise protect the wood before clamping.
Adjusting the moveable jaws is dead simple and requires an overall learning period of roughly zero. This is a remarkably simple design that has been executed well, with high-quality materials. The result is a clamp that is very easy to adjust yet stays exactly where you put it when it is applied to the wood. The pressure generated is easily sufficient for this type of clamping and applying that pressure to the wood just does not get easier.
The Bessey Clippix clamps are very well made, well though out and bring a substantial value to the shop as a result. These clamps are easy to use, function as expected and are very durable. With street prices ranging from $3.99 for the small needle nose version to $10.99 for the large double jaw model (11-5-2009) the Bessey Clippix clamps are a cost effective way to make you light clamping chores easier and more effective. Bessey makes more traditionally shaped spring clamps using the same materials and processes and they are available wherever Bessey Clamps are sold.
Perhaps the best news about the Bessey Clippix clamps is that they simplify the spring clamp purchase decision considerably. The low prices for the Bessey Clippix clamps make buying them over the lesser clamps that make up the rest of this clamping category a no-brainer.
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