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Bessey Variable Angle Strap Clamp
New thinking in strap clamps
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted – 8-22-2-10
Most strap clamps have been very much alike for years. If you had four 90-degree corners the included corner pieces could be used under the strap. If the piece had more than four corners the strap itself was used to apply pressure. You’d think that by now I would have seen this coming but once again it was Bessey that surprised me with a better idea.
The Bessey Variable Angle Strap Clamp is traditional in that it has a strap, reel, crank and a tensioning handle. The webbed strap itself is not so traditional in its 23-foot length (15/16”-width) and a super-strong 1100-lb tensile strength. The composite body of the Bessey Variable Angle Strap Clamp houses the reel and unused strap and has a Bessey-red screw handle that applies the major clamping force.
The Bessey Variable Angle Strap Clamp is about 8-3/4”-long by 7-1/8”-wide and 1-7/16”-thick. Through the use of quality materials the Bessey Variable Angle Strap Clamp weighs a trim 1.4-pounds.
The take up reel for unused strap has a simple looking handle that makes retracting the strap quick and easy. A nice touch is being able to install that handle from either side of the Bessey Variable Angle Strap Clamp making it truly left or right handed. This feature also can make it easier to use in confined spaces or special applications.
Trick Corner Pads
Bessey Variable Angle Strap Clamp Swivel Pads are where the Bessey designers really showed the depth of their design mettle. Rather than a simple, one-piece 90-degree corner Bessey opted for an improved design that features swivel pads that automatically conform to corners from 60 to 180-degrees and any angle between. The self-aligning capability means that there is no pre-adjustment or fitting needed so applying the Bessey Variable Angle Strap Clamp is fast and easy.
The corner pieces can be installed on to or removed from the strap very quickly without tools. The pieces have simple retaining arms that keep it on the strap but allow you so slide it freely wherever needed for the job. If you have fought with some of the other designs on the market you will appreciate Besseys’ idea even more.
The Bessey Variable Angle Strap Clamp comes with four of the corner pieces but you can buy them separately in packages of 6 (#VAC-6) for about $13.95 (8-16-2010) per package.
The classic red handle at the bottom of the Bessey Variable Angle Strap Clamp operates a cleanly machined Acme threaded spindle that applies the major clamping force. Bessey has the manufacturing of the Acme thread down cold so applying pressure with the Bessey Variable Angle Strap Clamp is virtually effortless.
In the Shop
Using the Bessey Variable Angle Strap Clamp really is as simple as my descriptions above suggest. From the reel take-up crank to the swivel pads on the corner pieces applying this clamp to your projects just could not get any easier unless someone else does it for you. The swivel pads allow the Bessey Variable Angle Strap Clamp to apply even pressure to any joint within its 60 to 180-degree range with no adjusting on your part. For most of us that covers just about anything we build!
Bessey does not specify the actual clamping pressure (no manufacturer seems to) on strap clamps but the Bessey Variable Angle Strap Clamp easily closed every joint type I could think of. If these clamps won’t close up your joints, I would suspect that you have not prepared the joint right.
The hand crank applies enough pressure to keep the Bessey Variable Angle Strap Clamp in place on most projects while you tighten the screw handle to apply the full pressure. This clamp is so easy to use that I was a bit surprised and found myself wondering if I had missed a step somewhere during the process. My experience with other (lesser) strap clamps was not as user friendly.
The Bessey Variable Angle Strap Clamps are another example of their tradition of quality and shop-use-oriented design. These clamps are well made and intentionally easy for you to use in a real-world wood shop. Short of your doing something bad to them, the expected useable life is virtually unlimited. With a street price of $37.23 (8-16-2010) equipping your shop with Bessey Variable Angle Strap Clamps just might be one of the better values you’ve gotten in years.
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