Harbor Freight has launched new 24″ and 48″ parallel clamps under their Bremen brand.
Parallel clamps are commonly used in woodworking applications, such as for gluing up wider boards, assembling cabinetry components, and any other tasks where you need strong and even pressure.
The Bremen parallel clamps feature resin clamping bodies and jaws, a 3-3/4″ throat depth, and can deliver up to 1300 lbs of clamping force.
The adjustable jaw can be removed and reversed to use the clamp as a spreader.
The Bremen clamps are priced on-par with some brands’ value-oriented parallel clamps, but the design also looks cheaper.
For instance, Bessey, Jet, Jorgensen, and Bora Portamate parallel clamps have two pins placed through their fixed jaws, presumably straight through their steel bars. The pins are staggered, I would think to help resist rotation under clamping pressure.
Parallel clamps can exert a tremendous amount of force, and good clamps must remain true, with jaw parallel to each other and perpendicular to the clamp bar.
Bessey, Jet, Jorgensen, and bora clamps all have their fixed jaws secured in similar manners, with two pins or similar hardware.
Bora Portamate’s budget-friendlier parallel clamps also have two pins to secure the fixed jaw to the clamping bar.
Here’s a look at the Bessey K Body Revo clamp head from the side. I haven’t taken apart my Bessey clamps, but they sure feel like the fixed jaw is secured straight through their steel clamping bar.
Harbor Freight’s new Bremen parallel clamps appear to have one pin, and it doesn’t look to pass through the steel bar.
It’s possible that Harbor Freight’s clamps have hidden fixturing pins, or similar, but I’m not sure how likely that is.
Looking at online wholesale marketplaces, I found a similar-looking Enjoy Works parallel clamp. This clamp appears nearly identical to the Harbor Freight Bremen clamp, aside from branding, color, and more logical placement of a single pin securing the fixed jaw to the clamp bar.
Maybe this means the Bremen pin placement is simply a Photoshopping or rendering slip-up that nobody caught? But, all of Harbor Freight’s product photos, including of the example glue-ups, show the fixed jaw pin in the same place. I’m not sure what the implication is, but it’s at least unusual.
Either way, there’s one pin here, when other name-brand parallel clamp makers all use two.
With parallel clamps, tool brands can follow time-tested designs and still get things wrong. When all leading and competing tool brands have parallel clamps with dual fixture pins, that’s what brands entering the market should start off with if the goal is to offer a competing product.
That said, the Bremen clamps are only available in two sizes right now, 24″ and 48″. I would 100% stay away from the 48″ clamp.
Most brands’ longer clamps are 50″ for a reason – for easier working, and so to that you can glue up 48″ panels or cabinet parts. In my opinion, 48″ clamps on 48″ long wood panels or assemblies are usually going to be a hassle, as there’s usually too little wiggle room.
If you ever plan to work with 48″ panels or wood constructions, go with 50″ clamps (or similar).
In my experiences so far, even good-looking parallel clamps can perform poorly.
Harbor Freight advertises a lifetime warranty on these Bremen clamps, saying that they guarantee the tool to be free from defects in material and workmanship.
These clamps could be decent, despite my hesitation. Even if not, at least Harbor Freight stands behind them. Try them in store, and see what you think.
Price: $34.99 for 24″, $39.99 for 48″