Gear clamps for tight spaces
September 9, 2019 | 9:59 am CDT
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The new Bessey GearKlamps move the clamping handle to the rail for increased finger clearance without sacrificing clamping force.
We’ve all been there: You’re clamping up something with conventional bar clamps and there isn’t enough room between the clamp handle and some obstacle to allow enough purchase for your fingers to tighten the clamp properly. Now Bessey, long a leader in manual clamping technology, has come up with a solution.
 
The new Bessey GearKlamps, which won a Visionary Award at AWFS, are bar clamps with a difference. They move the clamping handle to be concentric with the bar. That means no knuckle-busting in close quarters, but there are some other new features, too, to make these clamps even more productive.
 

How they work

The secret to how these clamps function is a geared transmission hidden in the lower clamp jaw. When you turn the handle that rotates around the clamping bar, that action turns a series of gears that move the lower clamp screw, developing a clamping force of up to 450 pounds.
 
Moving the clamping handle to the bar also has other benefits. A quick release button on the lower jaw falls right under your thumb when your hand is on the handle, and you can slide the clamp closed without even using the button or jiggling the handle. That makes for quick adjustments to slide the lower jaw up and down the bar. A large no-mar pad on the upper stationary jaw can be snapped off to reveal grooves for better clamping of round or irregular work.
 
Bessey's new GearKlamps come in four sizes ranging from 6 inches to 24 inches for a wide variety of clamping applications.

Tight squeeze

In a variety of applications in the shop, these clamps are a pleasure to use. Without considering the special features, they are fast, sure, and offer plenty of clamping force. But when you add the extra access of the rail-located handle, that improves clamping immeasurably. You can torque the handle as much as you want without running into obstacles or accidentally pushing the clamp out of proper location. 
 
The Bessey GearKlamps are currently available in four sizes from 6-inches to 24-inches at prices ranging from $18 to $25, so they are really competitive with conventional clamps. You can learn more at www.besseytools.com

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About the author
William Sampson

William Sampson is a lifelong woodworker, and he has been an advocate for small-scale entrepreneurs and lean manufacturing since the 1980s. He was the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine in the early 1990s and founded WoodshopBusiness magazine, which he eventually sold and merged with CabinetMaker magazine. He helped found the Cabinet Makers Association in 1998 and was its first executive director. Today, as editor of FDMC magazine he has more than 20 years experience covering the professional woodworking industry. His popular "In the Shop" tool reviews and videos appear monthly in FDMC.