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Bessey TG Series "Tradesman's" F-Clamps
Tough, big reach and lots of versatility
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted - 4-4-2009
If it seems like the F-Clamp has been around forever that is because Bessey invented them in 1936. I am happy to say that even constitutes "forever" for me... Since then Bessey has developed the F-Clamp platform into a tool capable of handling the needs of the professional which is why they have become known as "Tradesman's" clamps. And, they continue to manufacture these major-tough tools in their own facilities in Germany. The Bessey TG Professional Series F-Clamps put big-time pressure capabilities, durability and versatility in this popular clamp style.
TG Big Bar
The Bessey TG F-Clamps are built around Besseys rigid hourglass-shaped steel bar. This 1-1/4"-tall by 3/8"-thick bar is made from high-strength steel and formed with the familiar concave shape along both sides that contributes to its ability to resist flex. The bar is also galvanized to help stop corrosion, prevent staining the wood and to make removing drips of glue easier.
The top and bottom edges of the bars each have serrations on three distinct surfaces. With a total of six serrated surface interacting with the specially designed jaws, the Bessey TG F-Clamps are capable of producing remarkable amounts of pressure without slipping.
The bar is pressed into the fixed jaw, eliminating mechanical fasteners. Because of the high pressures the Bessey TG F-Clamps are capable of producing, mechanical fasteners like pins, rivets or bolts would almost certainly work loose. The tail end of the bar is expanded to prevent the moveable jaw from slipping off. Again, no mechanical devices to loosen or fail.
The Bessey TG F-Clamps feature extremely tough malleable iron jaws reinforced with cast-in corrugated shapes that increase mass and strength at critical locations. Combined with the overall size and the specially designed shape of the jaws this reinforcement makes the Bessey TG F-Clamp jaws exceptionally rigid despite their considerable throat depth of up to 20"!
The Bessey TG F-Clamps fixed jaw is equipped with an oversized flat pad, shielded by a removable plastic cover that helps prevent marking of the wood. This cover also helps reject glue. The fixed jaw features a cast-in foot that helps keep the clamped up project standing upright when placed on the bench or floor.
The movable jaw is also heavily built, including the reinforcing corrugations that increase its strength and rigidity. Oversize bosses at the bar and pressure screw ends allow the Bessey TG F-Clamps to develop the tremendous pressures without fear of failure.
Because iron jaws cannot be hardened extensively (they would snap off under pressure) Bessey had to come up with another way of engaging the serrations on the bar to eliminate slip. Their solution is both elegant and simple. The boss is drilled and tapped at the critical point and a hardened setscrew is installed. The hardened threads of the setscrew engage the bar serrations when pressure is applied to the jaw. This firmly locks the jaw into the serrations, allowing the user to apply substantial pressure without slippage on the bar. The hardness of the setscrew virtually eliminates wear of its threads so this solution is as long-lasting as it is ingenious.
Applying the tremendous pressure available with the Bessey TG F-Clamps is less strength-reliant and more predictable because of the large diameter handles that turn the cleanly formed Acme threads. Bessey has used the Acme-type threads for a long time because of the smooth operation and tremendous clamping force potential. To insure that these threads keep on performing, Bessey work hardens them. The handles are sized to fit the hand comfortably and feature rubberized inserts that give a good sense of grip.
The end of the threaded shaft is equipped with a swivel-mounted, large diameter face that makes aligning the Bessey TG F-Clamps and applying pressure to the wood easy. The round face is covered with a plastic shield that like its mate on the fixed jaw helps eliminate marking the wood while resisting glue. Incidentally, the covers on both the fixed and swivel jaws are available in a set of three of each should they need to be replaced.
In the Shop
As you might suspect, the Bessey TG F-Clamps shows high-end quality throughout. An equally important point is that they are easy to use. The large diameter grips make applying the pressure needed for the job simple. These clamps are capable of developing pressures from 600 LBS (#TGJ2.506, 2-1/2" throat depth, 6" clamping capacity) to an astounding 1550 LBS with nearly all of the Heavy Duty Bessey TG F-Clamps. Certainly all of them produce more clamping power than any of us will ever need but that capability makes using the necessary pressure easier and virtually eliminates the fear of failure.
I love the reach of the Bessey TG F-Clamps because it makes them so handy in many situations in the shop. I generally use parallel jaw clamps to assemble projects but often need to reach over those to apply pressure to end or internal panels. The Bessey TG F-Clamps handle those chores and many more with ease.
Putting the moveable jaw in position and applying pressure is surprisingly easy thanks to that setscrew built into the Bessey TG F-Clamps. Despite their robust weight, putting a Bessey TG F-Clamps in place with one hand is not difficult. In my shop and probably many of yours, that can be an important feature.
The Bessey TG F-Clamps are very well designed and manufactured clamps that deliver more than you expect. Their durability means that they will remain in service in even busy shops for many, many years. The Bessey TG F-Clamps are available in 33 sizes from the #TGJ2.506 with 2-1/2" of throat depth and 6" of clamping capacity to the #CDS24-20 with 20" of throat depth and 24" of clamping capacity.
With #TGJ2.506 6" model to $131.80 (4-3-2009) for the CDS24-20, 24" version these clamps are not free but considering the materials and construction, they should be a one-time investment that you will use frequently for however long your forever is.
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