Kreg has come out with a new line of Automaxx auto-adjusting locking clamps. These clamps look to be a hybrid design that combines features from CH Hanson’s Automatic locking clamps and Bessey’s auto-adjusting toggle clamps. The new Automaxx locking clamps can be used for pocket hole joinery or general purpose everyday use.
There will be two versions available: a standalone face clamp and a bench-mounted clamp. Both Klamp designs will be available in short and long sizes with 3″ and 6″ reach respectively.
To use these clamps, simply set the clamping pressure. Unlike non-adjusting locking clamps, there are no screws or knobs to adjust. The jaws self-adjust to the thickness of your workpiece.
- Short face clamp: 2-7/8″
- Long face clamp: 4-1/4″
- Short bench clamp: 2-1/2″
- Long bench clamp: 4-1/2″
The short face clamp (3″ reach) is priced at $30, and the long (6″ reach) is $38. The short bench-mount clamp is $38, and the long version $44. A complete Kreg Klamp kit that includes a short bench clamp and locking plate is priced at $50.
The bench-mounted Automaxx clamps must be used with a Kreg clamping plate ($13) or Klamp Trak ($45).
ETA: June 2013.
All Kreg Clamps(via Amazon)
Here’s a quick video so you can see how they work:
While occasionally tempted to, I have never purchased a single Kreg clamp, mostly because they always seemed a bit overpriced to me. Vise Grip locking C-clamp pliers ($12 – $20 via Amazon) are widely available and inexpensive, and while they have smaller swivel pads I’ve never had a problem using them on wood. For auto-adjusting locking C-clamp, I would look towards CH Hanson ($16 – $22 via Amazon).
Kreg’s bench-mount clamping system interested me a number of times as well, but the components always seemed too expensive for what you get. A couple of other companies make bench-mounted locking C-clamps (e.g. Grip-on and Gibraltar), and there is no shortage of toggle clamps, hold-down clamps, tracks, and other T-track-compatible clamping solutions available.
Regarding Kreg’s new Automaxx clamps, the standalone face clamps still seem a bit overpriced to me, at least compared to other auto-adjusting locking clamps already on the market. But compared to those other auto-adjusting locking clamps, you get extra large clamping pads and can be confident that the clamps can handle common woodworking workpiece thicknesses.
The bench clamp system looks much more versatile for everyday use, but price is still a major detractor as a single clamp costs $50 or $83 to install, depending on whether you opt for a clamping plate or 33-3/4″ track. You can also fabricate your own mounting system, but not many people do.
That all said, the new Kreg Automaxx clamps do look appealing, mostly in how you don’t have to adjust them for different sized workpieces. You will still have to adjust clamping pressure from time to time, especially when working with different material types.
Kreg, a company that became synonymous with pocket-hole joinery has in recent years spread out to produce table saw accessories and a variety of other jigs. Like you, I’ve looked at their products – bought a few – but thought that others were a bit short on the value proposition. Now that I’m semi-retired, I’ve been watching a bit of afternoon television on a local PBS station – and once in a while catch a woodworking show that is sponsored by Kreg. The show often includes the use of pocket hole joinery projects that I’d probably use mortises and tenons. The host also touts other Kreg products and showcases the features of the Kreg miter gauge (a nice but not great product IMO) rather shamelessly.
I’ve had very good results using Kreg’s pocket hole kit. But I clamp it down using Visegrip clamps, for the same reason mentioned, price.
For that price and whilst these don’t automatically adjust, on eBay there is a seller (maybe more now) that sells American made Petersen manufacturing 6 inchVise Grip brand C clamps with swivel pads for about the same price as the 6 inch reach version.
This seller also sells 4 inch American made Petersen manufacturing C clamp with swivel pads as well. Roughly several dollars less expensive as well. Both are brand new with factory packaging as well.
Might be worth considering, as the prices I’ve listed include shipping as well.