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The bar clamp, which comes in pipe, parallel jaw, aluminum bar, and steel bar versions, is used in almost every facet of cabinetmaking, and the right clamp can make the difference between success and failure. So I tested the 48-in. size of a representative sample of clamps to measure the deflection in both the bar and the jaws when applying various levels of force. I also used a set of four of each type of clamp to assemble a simple MDF carcase (joined with biscuits) and a large poplar panel, looking at ease of use and the resulting flatness and squareness of the finished product. It was hard to pick a favorite from among the group of parallel-jaw clamps (Gross Stabil PC2, Jorgensen Cabinet Master No. 8048, and Bessey K Body). All of the clamps were capable of assembling a cabinet carcase or flat panel with little, if any, cupping. On the testing jig, the Bessey and Gross Stabil clamps showed less bar flex and jaw deflection than the Jorgensen clamp, but in all cases this was minimal.
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