Review By Dean Bielanowski  Triton Website - http://www.triton.com.au


Triton Superjaws
(SJA200)
 Review

By Dean Bielanowski

Australian company, Triton, have been responsible for some excellent advances in tool and woodworking advances over the years. They have amassed a good selection of unique products for the woodworker, handyperson or DIY enthusiast. Some of these products we have reviewed on this website, and all have received quite a positive review.

The Triton Superjaws is not a new Triton product. The SJA001 model has been around for several years, and I have owned one for just as long. Recently, Triton updated the design of their original Superjaws and released the SJA200 model based on user feedback and further research and development.

The Triton SJA200 Superjaws
So what are Superjaws? Basically, think of them as a heavy duty woodworking clamp or vise on steroids! Well, calling it a woodworking device is not really fair. It can clamp and hold onto many types of materials and objects, and is expandable with add-on accessories to provide even more functionality. The tool is a giant clamping jaw which offers a large clamping capacity between 0 - 956mm (37.5 inches) and can apply up to 1000kg (2,240lbs) of clamping force, which should be plenty to grip on to just about anything very securely. I have not had a general woodworking or workshop situation for the Superjaws yet where the tool could not deliver the clamping force I needed for the task.

So how do you apply this force? In answering this question, we also reveal perhaps the best feature of this tool, in our opinion at least, and that is the speed at which something can be securely clamped. Unlike a normal workbench screw-type vice which can require numerous rotations of the handle to secure differing sized objects, to secure an object in the Superjaws you simply slide the top moveable jaw up to the workpiece, ensure the lock/release switch is in the lock position, then with your foot, push down on the foot pedal to apply the clamping force required. That's it! The jaw slide is much smoother with the new model, incorporating ball bearings, whereas the older model used a type of tension flap mechanism that was a little harder to slide. The older model also required a locking plate to be pulled out to hold the clamp at the desired clamping force, however, the new Superjaws features a lock/release switch on the front side of the fixed jaw within easy reach, which is much easier to use, and no more bruised shins. The moveable jaw can also be advanced up to the workpiece by pushing on the foot pedal repeatedly. Each push on the pedal advances the jaw about 25mm.

Opening the jaws back up is as quick as clamping them. Simply move the lock / release switch to the release position, push down on the foot pedal and allow it to slowly release upward removing the clamping force exerted by the moveable jaw. The moveable jaw is reversible to provide that maximum 37 odd inches of clamping capacity. Each side of the jaws features a removable urethane clamping face. This is rigid enough to provide excellent clamping force, but not so hard as to easily damage or mar materials being clamped, however, due to the large amount of clamping force Superjaws can apply, you do still need to be careful when clamping softer materials. The urethane facings also feature horizontal and vertical "V'' grooves which are very useful for clamping metal square tube or square form lumber on an angle for cutting, among other things.

The design of the Superjaws' support legs has also changed in this latest model. The previous model had a "connecting" brace that joined the three legs together, which, while providing good stability, was not ideal in some situations, particularly if the Superjaws were being used on an uneven surface. In the new model, the legs are implemented independently of each other, but still retain the three point tripod style support. Being independent however, there is more tolerance for uneven ground, allowing the user to use the Superjaws on even moderately uneven surfaces.

The Superjaws is designed to be portable. In fact, you can easily fold it up and store it in the trunk/boot of a standard sized car quite easily to transport it around. Each of the three legs can be folded down, as well as the foot pedal, underneath the main body of the Superjaws for compact storage or transportation. And weighing in at 16.5kg, the tool is not excessively heavy to cart around for the heavy duty clamping features it offers, and not to mention the all-metal durable construction too. Legs lock into place using clamping knobs to ensure they do not fold in during use and when in transport mode they are secured equally as well so they don't fly out and become a menace. On the bottom of the front two legs are integrated foot plates. The user can place their foot on either of these plates as necessary to provide even more stabilizing force to the Superjaws while in use.

Applications
The SJA200 Superjaws can be used for a wide variety of clamping tasks. I use mine regularly just to hold wood for hand sawing, and it does a great job of this, allowing easy access to the wood on both sides for the clamping jaws. When it comes time for quick glue-ups of smaller pieces, the Superjaws provides a strong hold on smaller items until the glue has had time to set. For planing full size doors or fitting door locks, the Superjaws provides a positive grip on a door in almost any clamping configuration. There is enough capacity to clamp the standard size door horizontally across its width too, allowing the planer obstruction-free access to the top or bottom of the door. I use the Superjaws regularly for drilling pen blanks, for holding boards for dowel drilling, and even for hand planing, sanding or surface work of wooden pieces prior to assembly. The Superjaws also work great for holding smaller finished projects like small book stands, children's furniture etc for spray finishing (just be sure to cover the Superjaws themselves to avoid contamination from overspray).

For metalworking, I have used the Superjaws to hold metal components for welding, hold one piece mower blades for sharpening with the angle grinder, or just to bend small pieces of bent sheet steel back to flat. It is a handy shop press. The front (immovable) jaw's top surface is also sturdy enough to act as a light metal shop anvil for bending thinner pieces of steel or aluminum etc. An accessory set of cast Engineer's jaws can be purchased and added to the Superjaws for heavier metalworking or metal clamping tasks.

You can also use the Superjaws to make a moveable accessory table. Just take some rigid sheet material, glue or temporarily nail on a piece of wood underneath which the jaws can clamp onto, and you have a handy extra work surface to use for whatever task or project requires it.

Accessories
A range of accessories are available (at additional cost) to further enhance the Superjaws' usefulness. I mentioned the Engineer's jaws above, but you can also purchase Log Gripping Jaws. This jaw set has teeth-like protrusions which positively grip onto logs of many sizes, allowing you to easily and safely cut logs to length with a chainsaw, or to work directly on the log (for bush-style furniture) at a much more ergonomic, and back-saving, height off the ground. These jaws can also be used to clamp poles or rounded objects much more securely than the standard flat urethane jaws. The third optional accessory is an extension tray. This tray attaches to either side of the body of the Superjaws and provides a place to put your hand tools, safety gear, fasteners, or lighter power tools in easy reach of the user. The tray also incorporates an extension wing that sits at the same height as the bed of the jaws so extra lateral support can be given to the clamped object if needed.

Conclusion
Having owned the older model (SJA001) Superjaws, and having no problems with it so far (although other users of the old model did occasionally have issues with the sliding jaw, and bruised shins!) I was interested to see how the Superjaws could be made better. Well, I will say that this new model does seem to be an improvement to the old model, both in design, ease-of-use, and by directly addressing and fixing some of the more common issues experienced with the older model. I cannot speak highly enough of the usefulness of the Superjaws. The only negative I can see, and it is really a necessary evil, is the large footprint of the tool. However, any device being able to exert 1 ton or more of clamping pressure is going to be fairly large, and the ability to easily fold the tool up and move it out of the way pretty much addresses that issue anyway.

Regardless, this tool has to be one of my favorites in the workshop. It is so darn useful I now have two, which also now gives me some of the most versatile "saw horses" money can buy! Kudos to Triton again for delivering another fine woodwor... err general shop clamping device. You would be hard pressed finding a Superjaws owner who is not happy with their purchase. Most I come across rave about it, anyway.

Retailing at around AUD$199 in Australia and around USD$160 in the USA, the Superjaws is comparable in price to a semi-decent woodworking vice, but it offers some much more versatility. It is definitely good value for money.

Available to Order through these Companies...
Click graphic to go to their direct product page for this item

Australia USA
BIG WBUNNINGS
HOME HARDWARETHRIFTY LINK
 


For more information, or to find dealers worldwide of Triton products, visit www.triton.com.au

Triton SJA200 Photos
All photos copyright onlinetoolreviews.com. Use without prior written permission prohibited


The Superjaws in the folded storage/transport position.


Unfolded and ready to go!


The new lock/release switch


The foot pedal for applying
clamping force


The jaws in normal mode with urethane clamp heads


Note the removable jaw has been reversed so the maximum 956mm capacity can be obtained


The locking clamps ont he front legs prevent those legs from folding inward.


A 4 x 4 post clamped in the Superjaws for easy sawing.


When clamping something at the edge of the clamp as shown, a similar sized filler piece should be used on the other end to prevent the jaw warping, however, here I am showing the ease that the Superjaws holds this length of RHS steel on end.


A pen blank sitting in the V-grooves of the urethane facings.
 

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