If you are a carpenter making your own kitchen cabinets, or if you are a homeowner building a bookshelf, having perfectly straight cuts is essential. That is where straight edge clamps come into play.
A straight edge clamp seems like a simple enough tool that you could just grab any of them and be okay. We have reviewed, tried, and tested many clamps and can tell you that they do have their differences. We have put together a list of the five that we like the most for your consideration. We will also tell you a little about what we do and don’t like about each one.
|Bora WTX 543100||50-inch||4.5/5|
|E. Emerson Tool C50 |
|DCT Aluminum Pro ||36-Inch||4.1/5|
|Rockler Low Profile ||54-Inch||4.0/5|
The Pro-Grip Straight Edge Clamp Set comes complete with three different sizes of clamps. You will receive a 24-inch, a 36-inch, and a 50-inch clamp. The body of each clamp is made of extruded aluminum and is 2 3/16 inches wide. They also have cam locks that are easy to lock into place, so between that and the lightweight aluminum, these clamps are easy to use with one hand. The cam lock has three different levels of pressure that it can be locked at, depending on the project you’re working on.
The clamps obviously secure your working surface so that it doesn’t move, and the edge
is excellent for making quick straight lines or cuts after taking just one measurement. You decide where you want to cut, and then you can use the clamp as a fence to run your wood or tool up against.
The measurement scales are not permanently attached to the clamps. They slide in and out, which can make your marks off if you aren’t careful that they’re in the proper place before you measure. This also makes it incredibly easy for the scales to get lost completely. Additionally, you’ll want to double-check that the clamps are locked securely in place before you begin to cut. The locking handle is a little short and doesn’t always hold well.
We also found that although all the clamps have low-profile jaws, the feet are small and don’t grab your wood the best. It would be useful if there was rubber on the feet to help them grab better. Another solution would be just to have bigger feet.
The Bora 100″ WTX Clamp Edge (543100) can give you up to 100 inches of straight edge. The clamp itself is 50 inches, and it comes with a 50-inch extension that attaches to it. This heavy gauge, extruded aluminum clamp also works well with all the Bora guide systems.
When we added the extension, we noticed that the edge is pretty weak at that point, so make sure that they’re lined up correctly. There is a lock at the far end to keep your full 100-inch guide straight. That locking handle is tough. You have to squeeze it hard for it to catch. Always make sure that it is firmly in its proper place before drawing any lines or making any cuts.
While it doesn’t have any effect on the tool’s ability to do its job, this clamp is shipped in two pieces in one box that has no padding in it. The parts hit against each other in transit and arrive at your door beaten
The E. Emerson Tool C50 is a 50-inch straight edge with an all-new self-clamping system that no longer requires C-clamps. It is part of Emerson’s contractor series and has an extra-wide frame with integral tubes that run the full length of the edge. This makes the body rigid, with only a small chance of getting damaged if you take it out on a job with you.
It also has an extra-low profile and a flat top with measurement markings on it. This allows easier use of circular saws or routers. The bottom butts up against the fence, while the top part has room to hang over the bar.
There are a couple of things that we don’t particularly like about this product, but you can work around them. This tool doesn’t have a whole lot of plastic on it, but those parts that do are too flexible to hold a straight edge. The adjusting parts also jam up the track at times. You may need to stop and clear it out.
The DCT Aluminum Pro is a 24-inch lightweight aluminum straight edge that measures in both inches and centimeters and is built to last for years to come. Reinforced tubing runs the entire length of the body to make it unbendable. It also has wide and tall plastic jaws for securing your object. Like most plastic, though, it won’t give you as firm a grip as other materials.
One thing we like about this guide is that you can clamp it upside down, allowing you to continue working on a different area without any obstructions in your work area.
The locking mechanism feels really cheap, like it is going to break any minute. That poses a problem because it takes significant strength to get it to lock into place. That is another problem. The locking mechanism runs parallel to your project. Since you have to turn the device so hard to get it to lock into place, the whole edge moves with it, throwing your measurement off. It also doesn’t include clamps.
You can get this tool to work, but expect to get frustrated in the process. It’s a useful guide for its price point. We recommend paying a little more for one that’s user-friendly, so that you aren’t pulling your hair out.
The Rockler Low Profile Straight Edge Clamping System is easier to use with a router or a circular saw, due to the low profile. It can also extend from 52 inches to 104 inches, but it isn’t an easy process. It’s very time-consuming to extend it because it’s made out of cheap plastic that can bow. You have to use an external straight edge to get this straight edge straight. Even at 52 inches, it is difficult to find a place to store it.
This product has many cheap plastic parts. The knobs, in particular, don’t take much to break off or strip the threads. They also don’t tighten down enough to give the clamp the strength that it needs to hold the T-fitting at a 90° angle. It’s impossible to get a straight line if you can’t get a perfect right corner.
Regardless of what kind of clamps you may be using, there are a few guidelines you should follow to make your life easier.
Always put a piece of scrap wood between the piece that you are working on and the teeth of the clamp. This will help ensure that your finished surface won’t have any marks on it from the clamp. If you don’t have wood scraps, you can purchase plastic pads or use milk or Gatorade bottle lids.
Your clamp should always be attached to your wood at a right angle to your glue line. Slippage is possible if it is even slightly off the 90° angle.
You want to have your clamp tight enough to hold your wood in place, but not so tight that it digs into your wood. If you are using glue, you could see some seepage. That is fine. That tells you that the clamp is tight enough to hold your two pieces together until the glue dries firmly. Moderate pressure is all that you should need for any job. If you’re using a lot of muscle, the clamp is too tight.
Other clamps we reviewed:
An excellent straight edge can save you a lot of time and frustration. Make sure that you find one that is strong enough that it won’t bend, and will lock into the place where you want it and stay there. That is why we have reviewed so many different tools. We hope that this information on our top five picks helps you to make the best choice to meet your needs.
1. Pro-Grip Straight Edge Clamp Set – Top Pick
2. Bora 100″ WTX Clamp Edge (543100) – The Runner-Up
3. E. Emerson Tool C50 Straight Edge Clamping Tool – Best for the Money
4. DCT Aluminum Pro Straight Edge Table Saw Guide
5. Rockler Low Profile Straight Edge Clamp System
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!