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Jorgensen ISD Bar Clamps – Pony Hand Clamps
New Designs, Superior Function
Text & Photos by Tom Hintz
The Adjustable Clamp Company, parent of the venerable Jorgensen and Pony brands, has come up with some new thinking in the popular bar and hand clamp worlds. While the engineering and manufacturing are obviously high tech, the designs themselves are functionally simple, insuring reliable function for many years.
Both the Jorgensen ISD and Pony Hand Clamps are nicely manufactured and worked flawlessly from the onset. These clamps are short on glitz but long on usability and performance. The I-beam style arms supporting the clamping pads, as well as the basic frames are made from a robust composite and throughout our testing, showed no signs of bending, warping or deflecting.
Incidentally, the ISD stands for “Innovative, Superior and Dependable.” After thrashing these clamps for some time in my shop, I can’t argue with any part of that!
Jorgensen ISD Bar Clamps
I have long been a fan of this type of clamp, mainly because of the one-handed operation that makes so many clamping operations possible by one person. Less enamoring was their tendency to slip or stick, and their annoying habit of doing both when the open time of the glue is short.
The operating mechanism within the Jorgensen ISD clamps is where much of the engineering power has been applied. This design effort has resulted in a clamp I have been unable to make slip or stick. The clamping mechanism is fit precisely to the specially shaped ¾" by ¼" steel bar that makes these clamps so rigid. The consistency of the bar and fit of the operating mechanism are central to how predictably these clamps work.
Even the pads that contact the wood are noticeably thicker than most. They also have a tread-like pattern molded into them that helps resist slipping exceptionally well. The pads are made from a no-mar material that while tough, has enough give to grip irregularly shaped pieces.
One of the first jobs I used the Jorgensen ISD Bar Clamps on was holding the round legs of a stool. The Jorgensen pads gripped tight and stayed put, something my other bar clamps refused to do on the same stool legs minutes earlier.
A nice feature is being able to remove the stationary arm and re-install it on the other end of the bar to convert the clamp to a spreader. A simple thumbscrew secures the pad making this a no-tools operation that can be done quickly. An indexing pin insures the pad face aligns properly with the moveable jaw in either clamping or spreading mode.
The handles are ergonomically designed and feature non-slip inserts that make them easier to use. Being able to control the clamp and apply the desired amount of pressure with one hand is enhanced. The forward, moveable handle, fits over the stationary rear handle, which seems to reduce the chances of pinching yourself between them.
The handle length, combined with a high pivot point on the actuating handle, allows applying considerable pressure without straining. In fact, Jorgensen claims these clamps develop between 10 and 40% more pressure than the competition. While this sounds like a lofty claim, I was unable to disprove it.
An inset trigger in the stationary rear handle releases the clamps pressure easily and predictably. The release trigger is also inset to prevent pinching.
The impressive function of the ISD clamps is based in the design and manufacture of the internal mechanism. This type of locking mechanism has been around a long time but Jorgensen has taken it a step further, refining the concept and then manufacturing the individual components to close tolerances that insure solid, dependable clamping and easy releasing.
Pony Hand Clamps
Here again, a traditional design has been improved to make clamping more secure and releasing easier. The application of common sense engineering to the lock/release mechanism makes all the difference.
The handles of the Pony Hand clamps are comfortable and have been given the non-slip molding that increases your grip. The shape of the handles makes them easy to squeeze, even when the clamp is fully open. The handles are wider than most I have used which increases comfort but more importantly makes it easier to apply the pressure needed to secure whatever is being clamped.
The clamping pads are large, have a tread-like pattern that resists slipping and leave no marks. The pads are mounted on hinge pins that allow them to swivel through a 90-degree arc, insuring full contact with the surface of the pieces being clamped.
The most impressive part of the Pony Hand clamps is the locking/release mechanism that is largely responsible for their performance. A simple spring-loaded lever locks on a steel shaft as the handles are squeezed. To release the clamp, light pressure on the lever allows the jaws to slip open.
What is really nice about this system is that the release works very easily, making one-handed operation simple and predictable. In many cases, you can actually loosen the grip of the clamp to reposition it without it jumping fully open.
The locking mechanism is mechanically very simple and appears totally unaffected by dust. Despite trying to apply too much or too little pressure, the Pony Hand clamp locking mechanism remained solid and predictable.
In the Shop
This will be one of the shorter "In the Shop" sections of my reviews because the Jorgensen Cabinet Master clamps and Pony Hand clamps performed exactly as advertised in every situation I could think of. From the moment they arrived in the shop, I have been using them for all clamping within their capacities.
In every case, both of these clamp styles held fast, showed no deflection, slipping, sticking or marking of the wood. Both released easily for repositioning and made one-handed operation easier than with any similar clamp designs I have used. I have several types of similar clamps, all of which remain hanging on my clamp rack, unused since the Jorgensen and Pony versions arrived.
The contact pads on the Jorgensen and Pony clamps grip tightly, do not slip and have not left a visible mark on any wood they have been used on. The swivel feature on the hand clamps makes securing pieces of wood or jigs to a surface easy even if you do not have them perfectly aligned with the surfaces.
Simply put, the Jorgensen Bar Clamps and Pony Hand Clamps perform perfectly with no surprises other than how tightly they grip and how easily they release. I can live with that kind of surprise in clamps.
All of us need clamps, usually more than we have. The Jorgensen ISD Bar Clamps are available in 6”, 12”, 18”, 24” and 36” lengths with street prices ranging from $17.99 for the 6” to $26.99 (12-15-2005) for the 36”-long model.
The Pony ISD Hand Clamps come in 1 ½”, 2 ¼” and 4” jaw capacities with prices ranging from $2.99 for the 1 ½” version to $6.49 (12-15-2005) for 4" model. At theses prices, you can equip your shop with the best on a so-so budget.
Uncommon quality and function for common prices. Who would have thunk it!
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