Wise Buys: Band Clamps

Why buy?
Every workshop should have at least one band clamp--also known as a strap or web clamp—for pulling together joints on projects that prove difficult for standard bar or pipe clamps, such as frames, chairs, cases, columns, or any odd-shaped project. They all come with corner blocks for supporting angled joints, but you also can use these clamps without them. Just be aware that without corner blocks, glue squeeze-out seeps into the nylon bands and can be difficult to remove. WOOD  tool tester Bob Saunders tested nine band clamps and recommends these three.

Lee Valley 17F10.13

Editor test-drive:

This low-cost clamp works like the ratcheting tie-downs I use to secure cargo to my pickup truck. But instead of rubber-coated metal hooks on the ends of the 16'-long nylon band, it's secured to the ratchet at one end with the other end loose to pull through the ratchet before tightening. It comes with four 90° nylon corner brackets that clip onto the band and work great for square glue-ups. For odd angles, I use Lee Valley's accessory variable-angle corners (4-pack, #50K57.01, $12.95, shown in the photo) because they adjust from 30° to 180°—the only ones with this much flexibility. My advice: Buy the band clamp (#17F10.02) itself for $9.95, then get the variable corners.

To learn more:
800-871-8158, leevalley.com

Craftsman 31458

Editor test-drive:

Craftsman's easy-to-use band clamp has a one-handed ratcheting mechanism (with rubber overmolded handles) that frees up my other hand to adjust the corner blocks as I tighten it. The 16'-long nylon band pulled out easily when I depressed the release button, and automatically locked when I let go. The band's metal end hooks onto a magnetic rod that prevents the hook from coming loose while setting it up. The corner blocks adjust from 60° to 180°, but I wish Craftsman would sell extra blocks for clamping up projects with more than four corners.

To learn more:
800-383-4814, craftsman.com


Bessey VAS-23

Editor test-drive:

Of the seven clamps I tested similar to this one, I prefer the Bessey. Its handle closely resembles those on my Bessey K-Body parallel-jaw clamps and fits my hand perfectly. Its 23'-long nylon band was longest in the test, and although I might never need all that length, it's nice to have it available in a tight, easy-to-use reel that never gets in the way. And the metal hasp proves easy to couple and disconnect. With swiveling jaws that snugly fit 60° to 180° angles, the corner blocks have open "pockets" inside the corners to keep glue squeeze-out from getting on them.

To learn more:
800-828-1004, besseytools.com


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