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It’s always sad to see a tool die in the line of duty.  Until this week, I owned eight of these 6″ mini-clamps from Irwin.  It seems that a 3-foot drop with a 2×4 in its jaw was a bit too much for one of these little blue clamps to handle; it snapped like a twig and sent  the smaller jaw skittering across the shop floor when it hit.  So now I’m down to seven — depressing.

To be fair, the mini-clamp really wasn’t designed for that kind of thing, and had I substituted one of the bigger clamps of the same design, the issue wouldn’t have come up at all.  The bright side:  I now have license to go get more clamps, which is never a sad occasion.

Just be aware that the cheapo plastic bar clamps aren’t made to handle stress in key areas, like where the jaw meets the bar.  It might only bite you one time out of twenty, but once is all it takes for total failure to occur.  Still, $20 for a set of four is a good price point considering the two years of hard shop time I got out of it.

Quick-Grip Clamps [Irwin]
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15 Responses to Shop Death: Irwin 6″ Quick-Grip

  1. Old Coot says:

    Hope you give it a decent burial. RIP 🙁

  2. Sean O'Hara says:

    lol, well I cursed alot and and threw it in the garbage can at about mock two (after taking the picture) does that count? 😉

  3. Vincent Ma says:

    Should have saved the yellow rubber pads in case you mess up those on the other seven remaining clamps. 😀 Then you can throw the rest of it out at Mach 2.

  4. Gough50 says:


    You can email Irwin and they’ll send you free replacement pads.

  5. joel says:

    I’m sure this is how it would have wanted to go… in the line of duty

  6. Andy says:

    Sorry to hear of your loss…
    I’ve never been too impressed with those particular Irwin clamps, especially when there are significantly better ones available. I’ve heard that Irwin’s heavier-duty blue+silver clamps are better, Jorgensen has a heavy duty model that’s pretty good, and I just saw some new aluminum-bodied ones at Lee Valley. But my favorites of this style are by Craftsman – like this:
    Note that they have 2 “lines” – the heavy duty ones actually feel substantial, have good-sized jaws, and can produce a significant amount of clamping pressure. You can tell as soon as you pick one up that they’re in a different league than the blue+yellow irwins… Try one next time you’re in Sears.

  7. Kevin says:

    Those Craftsmans are excellent clamps. I own a couple of those and a couple of the similarly styled band clamps. Very sturdy, lots of clamping pressure when needed, and of course a lifetime warranty so no cursing and throwing these out if they ever happen to break.

  8. Pencilneck says:

    I purchased a pair of the Irwin clamps for my deck project and have 1 major issue with them, they pop apart when I try to clamp something. The black plastic plate that has the “IRWIN Quick Grip” sticker on it will pop off and the squeeze handle will come loose when I apply pressure. Now if I use one hand to set the clamp, and my other hand to keep the black plastic side plates in place, then things seem to be OK. A bit of cheap flimsy design there… beyond that, they did the task as needed.

  9. Casey says:

    Fix it with epoxy putty or JB Weld. Cry no more!

  10. Chet says:

    Thank goodness for China and that we can get these cheap, disposable tools at a low cost.

    I wonder if the ViseGrip will follow this same story now that it is being moved offshore.

  11. Ze says:

    Gotta agree with you there Chet 🙂

    However I skip the brandname plastic crap and go straight to the cheap shop plastic crap.

    It works just as well and much cheaper :p

    I’d happily pay for a quality brand name heavy duty metal one but I’ll be buggered about paying more for a brandname plastic one when a cheapie works as good.

  12. Ethan says:

    I usually buy the plastic squeeze bar clamps and the metal bodied hand screw bar clamps from Harbor Freight. They are a fraction of the price, and when on sale (which they are frequently) they’re pennies on the dollar. I haven’t broken one yet, but if I did, they’re so cheap you just buy another.

  13. paganwonder says:

    Tools usually work best when used for what they were designed for. Quick Grips are great for just that- a quick grip. For serious clamping get a serious clamp. BTW- the victim could have been reconfigured as a jig or ???.

  14. Jim Crockett says:

    Pencilneck, write to Irwin and explain to them what is happening with the clamp(s) that are springing apart – they’ll send you replacements, I’m sure. I had two of the 6″ clamps that weren’t gripping tight; wrote to them asking if there was a recommended way to sand the guides or something. They sent me two replacement clamps – 12″. Great customer service!


  15. Robert Blackmon says:

    I would have made a metal piece to replace the broken part and weld it directly to the steel bar, would have been good for many more years.

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