Review By Dean Bielanowski  Jorgensen Website - http://www.adjustableclamp.com/


Jorgensen Cabinet Master Clamps
 Review

By Dean Bielanowski

Look in any serious woodworker's workshop and you will likely find a stash of parallel bar clamps. Some pro woodworkers still use common pipe and sash clamps, although there is a growing trend of woodies buying up the parallel variety.

In this review we will look at clamp manufacturer, Adjustable Clamp Co., and their new Jorgensen Cabinet Master parallel bar clamps. Let's get going!

Cabinet Master Features
The Jorgensen Cabinet Master looks somewhat similar to Bessey K-Body clamps, however, there are numerous differences. Firstly, a parallel bar clamp, such as the Cabinet Master, are called this because the clamping 'jaws' will always clamp directly parallel to each other. This is not to be confused with the relationship between the clamp's metal bar and the jaws themselves, which will clamp at a 90 degree angle to each other. So what does this mean exactly? Well, the idea is that if both your jaws clamp exactly parallel to each other, and the angle between the clamp bar and jaws are at 90 degrees, the clamping pressure, when applied, should be equal over the entire clamp surface engaged with the wood. This square clamping pressure helps eliminate problems with panels warping, bowing or carcass glue-ups 'racking' as the glue dries which can be a problem with other, cheaper types of clamps. Essentially, the Cabinet Master clamps are designed for use with cabinet construction, but they can be used for any other clamping, and spreading applications.

The Jaws and Bar Features
These don't have teeth, unlike the Peter Benchley novel/movie version, but rather, are nice smooth surfaces that will apply equal pressure to your wooden surfaces for clamping tasks. The reinforced steel / casting construction certainly affords the Cabinet Master a good amount of durability, but also adds a little weight. Wrapping these components are the bright orange, hardened plastic covers which give the Cabinet Master that 'unique' look. Some may shy away from this orange color, but to me, the color makes absolutely no difference to how the clamp functions, so I don't even give it a second thought. Some woodworkers like to color-match their workshop machinery and tools, which appeals to them, but I don't really see the point myself. Each to their own I guess. The bright orange is certainly an mood-uplifting color, if nothing else.

Taking out my trusty square (with ruler) I measured the distance from the top of the steel bar to the top of the jaws. This measurement was just shy of four inches (10cm). This measurement represents the throat depth or how far in from the edge of a workpiece the clamp can reach and apply pressure. Four inches is quite a decent throat depth and certainly makes it useful for "cross clamping" (what I call using the most jaw surface area as possible) of panel glue-ups when you only have a few clamps to work with. My my square still in my hands, I checked the end jaw (which cannot be moved) was indeed set at ninety degrees to the bar... and on the two clamps I checked, it was virtually square. The distance from the edge of the bar to the outer edge of the jaw is a full 3/4", so if using the clamps on their side, you can effectively clamp 3/4"  material will full face contact. This feature is something not found on competing models.

Looking at the adjustable 'head' jaw now, this features the same steel casting and plastic covers but, naturally, this jaw adjusts to allow you to clamp items/projects of varying lengths. The capacity of the clamp depends of the length of clamp you have purchased. Cabinet Master clamps are available in a variety of lengths which include; 12", 18", 24", 30", 36", 48", 60", 72" and a healthy 96" version for those large cabinets or wide panel glue-ups. No matter what length you buy, the jaws and jaw construction are exactly the same in size and build quality, only the length of the bar changes. Getting back to the adjustable jaw... this rides along the bar very smoothly via four guide rods at the base of the jaw. If you lift the screw handle upward, the slide action is even smoother as it helps to disengage the clutch discs from the bar. The method by which the Cabinet Master grasps and secures to the bar is via these very clutch discs. They are constructed of hardened, plated, high-carbon steel. They look similar to the clutch discs you might find on a regular pipe clamp fixture, and they clamp in a somewhat similar way, although on the Cabinet Master jaw, they are not readily visible unless you remove the jaw from the bar itself. I have had issues in the past with normal pipe clamps 'slipping' when applying clamp pressure, but so far, there has been no sign of this with the Cabinet Master clamps.

The bar itself is 1-3/16" x 3/8" steel with concave faces. These concave faces supposedly adds strength to the bar and reduces any occurrence of twisting or bending when clamp pressure is applied to your project. I'm no engineer, so I won't try to give an in-depth explanation as to why or how a concave face adds more strength over a flat face. Perhaps a reader in the know can enlighten us?

The main screw handle up top of the adjustable jaw is turned from solid maple and is quite a large handle in itself. This is good as it provides a better grip and is more ergonomic in my opinion. The screw itself is cold-drawn steel with acme threads and measures 5/8" in diameter. This newer model Cabinet Master, which is the Style No. 8000, has a 10% longer screw travel than its nearest competitor. While this is great, and I'm not arguing about an improvement, I find I rarely require the full screw length to apply sufficient pressure to a joint, but I think having more is better than having less in this case... I can't imagine running out of screw travel in any situation with these clamps.

When you set your Cabinet Master up to clamp a joint(s), you make sure the fixed jaw is butted up snugly against one end of your joint, and then, making sure your screw is backed up for maximum travel, slide the adjustable jaw to the other end of the joint or face you wish to apply clamping pressure to. Then start turning that screw. The Cabinet Master will initially work to clamp itself to the bar, then it slowly advances the jaw to apply pressure to your work. The clamp is rated up to 1,000lbs of clamp pressure. If you are applying that much pressure to a wooden project, then you would most certainly be applying far too much pressure and squeezing all your glue out of the joint, but I guess there may be other non-woodworking applications where more pressure would be required. If you only use them for woodworking, then 1,000lbs is certainly going to be more than enough. I don't think I'd even be apply to apply that much pressure via the screw by hand. In short, I doubt you could rarely 'break' these clamps during 'normal' use. As the pressure is applied to your joint or project, because of the Cabinet Master's parallel clamp design, the pressure is applied evenly and squarely to the joint face. This will help in preventing bending, bowing and twisting of a joint while the glue sets. We have been using these clamps in the shop for around 6 weeks now, and we can find little evidence that uneven clamp pressure has been the cause of any glue-up problem.

At the end of the clamp bar is a black plastic stopper/support which prevents the adjustable jaw from sliding right off the end of the bar and damaging it. Secondly, this same stopper also acts as a support for the end of the bar, so the bar remains at the same height when placed on a table, right across its entire length. This means the bar cannot rock forward/back, and it assists somewhat in providing lateral stability as well. A spring loaded pin in the stopper can be released and the stop can slide anywhere along the bar to support it if you are using the clamp on a narrow surface, for example. The ringlet on the end to pull the pin out also acts as a hanger to store your clamps hanging if required. Additionally, the stopper can be removed completely and you can slide the adjustable jaw off the bar, turn it around, slide it back on the bar and your clamp now becomes a spreader! This is great if you wish to use your clamps to disassemble test dry fit pieces safely, like with dovetail test fits for example. While a spreader-type 'clamp' does not get used often in my shop, there are the odd occasions when the need for one does arise, usually at the request of SWMBO for some household task :-) so having that ability is certainly an added bonus.

Opinion of the Cabinet Master in everyday shop use
Ok, I have outlined the basic features of the Cabinet Master clamp above, and given some brief opinions and uses of various features. Let me just add one more paragraph citing our general opinion of the clamps in everyday use. Firstly, the clamps performed very well overall. They are slightly heavier than other similar model clamps available, which can sometimes add a little extra weight and effort when applying them anywhere but sitting on a workbench etc, but we do not feel this is a major technical issue, more of a user-consideration. Manueverability of the clamp along the bar was very easy and the glide is quite smooth. The maple screw handles were very comfortable to grip and use. The ability to slide the stopper support anywhere along the bar is a very nifty feature. I found I was able to give the clamp adequate support and clearance from the workbench to allow clamp pressure to be applied without having to life the clamp off a surface. The larger size of the jaws in comparison to other models is useful for some types of clamping situations, and for these, it is great to have that extra depth and width in the jaw.

Overall
I have to say that the Jorgensen Cabinet Master clamp is a well designed clamp that addressed some of the 'issues' inherent in other branded models. We experienced no occurrence of jaw slipping at all, and the clamps met every expectation we placed on them during our testing period in the workshop. Are they better than the K-Body clamp? In some ways yes, certainly. They seem to travel smoother and the adjustable stopper/support is extremely handy, in my workshop at least. In terms of performing the task the clamps are designed for, I don't see much of a difference between the two. Both the K-Body and the Cabinet Master do the job they are intended to do equally well, the Cabinet master just seems to be a little more user-friendly. Perhaps a deciding factor is the price point. The Cabinet Master clamps are generally slightly cheaper than the K-Body, and if you are buying clamps in bulk to set up your shop, then that small difference can add up to a reasonable amount. When it comes to my next clamping task, I'll probably reach for the Cabinet Master if I am clamping up on my workbench. If I'm clamping on the floor, then I'd grab either.

The Jorgensen Cabinet Master is a solid parallel bar clamp that is well worth the asking price. I'll probably rarely use a pipe clamp again, unless I need a clamp with 96" capacity or more in length.
 

Available to Order Online through these companies...
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18" Cabinet Master Clamp
24" Cabinet Master Clamp
36" Cabinet Master Clamp
48" Cabinet Master Clamp

Cabinet Master Photos
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The Cabinet Master clamp will provide parallel clamping pressure
to your workpiece every time.


Steel casting and plastic covers make for a durable, but
weight-saving design.


The solid maple screw handles are some of the biggest in the business.


Acme thread screws offer plenty of strength and jaw travel.


The end stopper/support can be moved anywhere along the bar, or removed and the adjustable jaw reversed to turn the clamp into a spreader.


Lift the screw handle up and glide the jaw smoothly along the bar.


Using a couple 'jorgys' to clamp some turning blank glue-ups.


Here I am using as much of the jaw face as possible to provide the widest area of clamp pressure. Useful if you only have a few of these clamps at your disposal.


One of my favorite uses for parallel bar clamps like the Cabinet Masters is clamping door assemblies.

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