We often spend a lot of money on power tools, then we get cheap on other stuff which is equally, if not more crucial. Let’s take clamps, for example. They are quite important for the success of a woodworking project. They determine the precision and quality of the joints we use.
There’s a variety of woodworking clamps you can choose from; it can be rather difficult to decide which is better for you. It might be quite confusing to understand if they are worth their price or not.
In this article, we’ll decide whether Bessey or Jet parallel clamps are better. We’ll start by describing each product individually, taking into consideration things like size, clamping power, versatility. Then, based on that, we’ll decide which one is better for you.
If you want a short answer, here you have it: they are both solid, premium 90° clamps. There are a few small differences, such as the presence of a quick-release handle on JET clamps, pad materials, clamping force. In general, JET Parallel Clamps give a feel of being better built and easier to use. They might be a bit more expensive though.
Bessey vs Jet Parallel Clamps – A Few Words on Them
Bessey Parallel Clamps Review
Let’s start with Bessey. It’s a German company that is quite renowned for making premium cutting tools and clamps. They have designed clamping tools not only for wood, but also metal and many other applications. For our purposes, we’ll focus on woodworking clamps, particularly on the K-Body REVO Series. These are often considered one of the best clamping tools out there.
Bessey clamps are built with quality materials. The rail bar is made of steel, which guarantees precision and sturdiness. The plastic parts give a nice feel too; the clamping jaws are equipped with a pad which is ideal to avoid marring the wood. It also helps to get dried glue off easily.
What about the different sizes available? There are 9 different models with a clamping capacity that goes from 12″ to 98″. Here’s the complete list: 12″, 18″,24″, 31″, 40″, 50″, 60″, 82″, 98″. There’s an appropriate size for all different projects, from the smallest box to the biggest piece of furniture. The throat depth is always 3 -3/4″. Weight varies from 4.76 lbs for the 12″ model to about 13 lbs for the biggest one, the 98″. Their weight is another synonym of their premium build.
The claimed clamping force is 1700 lbs for all their models. This is more than enough for any application. The 1-1/4″ diameter handle is made of soft rubber and it has a round shape. It can be tightened with a hex key. It comes in handy when you need to provide additional clamping force.
Bessey clamps can also be used in the other direction, the so-called “spreading mode”. The fixed jaw has a pad on both faces for this reason.
JET Parallel Clamps Review
Let’s talk a bit about Jet parallel clamps now. JET Equipment was founded in 1958, right now it’s owned by JPW Industries, a parent company that includes brands such as Powermatic and Milton too. JET produced a variety of woodworking and metalworking tools. They also produce air tools and lifting tools. In our case, we’ll focus on JET woodworking clamps.
Same as with Bessey, JET clamps are heavy-duty. The rail bar is made of steel, while the jaws are made in a “composite resin jaw” that should help prevent marring the wood while clamping. According to JET, this material is glue resistant too, so it should be easy to clean.
Let’s talk about different sizes now. There are 8 different models available, with increasing clamping capacity, starting from 12″ up to 98″. The complete list is the following: 12″, 24″, 31″, 40″, 50″, 60″, 82″, 98″. Thanks to this variety, you can rest assured that there’s a suitable size for any kind of project. Weight varies from 5.76 lbs for the 12″ clamp to around 15 lbs for the big boy, the 98″.
Clamping force amounts to 1000 lbs. The handle has a diameter of 1 7/16″, it comes with a hexagonal shape to guarantee a solid grip.
A nice addition to the JET clamps is the trigger that locks the head in place. It’s super convenient to make sure the clamp doesn’t move.
JET Clamps can also be used in spreading mode simply by repositioning the moving jaw.
Bessey vs JET Parallel Clamps – What to Pick? Let’s Decide
Now that we have talked a bit about both clamps, it’s time to compare them. Here are some of the differences:
- With Bessey, the head slides on the rail without problems (while it might stutter a bit with JETs if the rail is not super clean). On the other hand, it might be difficult to keep the head locked in place with Bessey’s;
- JETs have a unique trigger to help keep the head in place. It also acts as a quick-release lever;
- The JETs handle is bigger (1-7/16″ vs 1-1/4″) and hexagonally shaped vs round on the Bessey clamps. This makes tightening easier than with Bessey’s;
- Unlike Beesey’s clamps, JETs have no pads on their jaws. There’s a chance of marring the wood if you are not careful, despite what the company claims;
- Bessey sells 9 different sizes, JET stocks 1 less model, the 18″;
- JETs have less clamping force (1000 lbs vs 1700 lbs of Bessey’s). It’s still more than enough. You don’t want to clamp your project too hard anyway. It could make the wood bend or leave too little glue for the joint to actual form;
- Spreading mode is more complicated to configure with JETs than with Bessey’s.+;
- JETs are heavier than Bessey’s. On one hand, it’s a good thing: it means they are robust and heavily built. On the other hand, it makes them more difficult to maneuver;
- According to many users that tried both clamps, JETs give a feel of being better refined. Bessey’s feels a little bit more cheaply built.
So there you have it, a complete Bessey vs JET parallel clamps comparison. As you can see, they are both solid pieces of equipment; you won’t be wrong with both of them. There are some differences though, as stated in the previous paragraph. Some of them are little and can be negligible for some folks, while they might be important for others.
If I were to choose, my preference would go to JET Clamps. Their handle and trigger make them easier to use than Bessey. On top of that, I usually like to get the most sturdy tool I can find, and JET clamps satisfy that need.
Since you probably will need a bunch of clamps, maybe of different sizes, I’d get a couple of both brands just to make sure to get the model that feels best for you. After that, you can continue buying the brand you like. This could be a good approach if you are still unsure of what clamps to get.
In any case, many times the accuracy and precision of clamps also depend on the way you use them. Here are some things to consider to get the best of your clamps:
- Work on a perfectly flat surface so that the clamps can perform at their best;
- Don’t press the clamps too much! You’ll end up damaging the project and the clamps themselves;
- Spread the glue evenly to get a well-balanced joint;
- Make sure to clean the rail bar from time to time. Consider waxing it to keep it from getting stuck.
That’s it for this article, see you in the next one!