I thought I had some pretty tough tools in my shop. then I got the Bessey C-Clamps shown here and realized there was room left on the though-side of my spectrum.
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Bessey CDF/CHV Series C-Clamps

An old clamp modernized by high-tech steels and manufacturing

Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz

Posted – 10-9-2010

Remember when c-clamps were just c-clamps? Well, things have changed and at Bessey that means super strength steels, modern (and often unique) manufacturing processes and designs that take full advantage of the immense knowledge bank in the Bessey engineering and metallurgy departments. They still look like c-clamps (more or less) but that is where the “common” aspects of these Bessey CDF/CHV Series C-Clamps end.

The Basics

Arguably everything Bessey makes is tough but with their Bessey CDF/CHV Series C-Clamps they took that concept to a whole new level. These clamps are beaten into shape by the tremendous impact pressures of a drop forge. Then they are heat treated in a multi-step process that remains a guarded secret of Bessey. The heat-treating process tweaks the molecular structure even more than the forging to make the body even stronger. The result is a c-clamp frame that can withstand anything your shop can throw at them unless you have a medium-to-large nuclear event. And I am not at all sure that they would not survive even that.

The bodies (left) are drop-forge shaped and then subjected to a whole series of high-tech heat treatments to make them tougher yet! then they get a heavy layer of baked on powder coating. The Acme threads (right) are given a black oxide finish on the CDF versions and a copper coating on the CHV models to further resist welding spatter.
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The 6”-capacity Bessey CDF/CHV Series C-Clamps have a throat depth of 3-5/8” to offer all of the reach possible without sacrificing clamping power and rigidity. Incidentally, both versions of the Bessey CDF/CHV Series C-Clamps shown here are capable of generating 6900-lbs or pressure! The Bessey CDF Series C-Clamps are available in clamping capacities of 2”, 3”, 4”, 6”,(pictured in this review) 8”, 2” to 10” and 2” to 12”. Bessey also has even more larger and smaller sizes and styles in their very complete line of c-clamps. We will look at the rest of their line in upcoming reviews on this site.

The Bessey CDF/CHV Series C-Clamp bodies are given a baked-on powder coat finish. In addition to being very good looking, powder coat finishes are very tough and do an exceptional job of preventing corrosion. Powder coating certainly is not the cheapest coating option but it is the best for the end user. The Bessey CHV C-Clamps are given a bright yellow color for enhanced visibility in the work place for increased safety.

Power Threads

The Bessey CDF/CHV Series C-Clamps are equipped with the large Acme thread. This thread design produces substantial clamping pressures quickly but predictably and with surprisingly little effort by the operator. The coarse shape of the threads helps them to resist contamination by the many forms of debris found in the shop. The standard version of the Bessey CDF/CHV Series C-Clamps have a black oxide finish applied to the spindle and threads. To go a step further the CHV versions of the Bessey C-Clamps have a copper coating applied to the entire spindle and ball-in-swivel pad assembly to make them even more resistant to welding spatter.

The handles (left) look pretty low tech against everything else on thes clamps but they work fine and let you apply more pressure than needed if you try a little. The ball-in-swivel ends (right) make applying these clamps to not-quite-parallel surfaces easy. There is no setup here, just keep them sort of clean.
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The ends of the spindles (both versions) feature the Bessey ball-in-swivel pad. This end system makes it easier to clamp up pieces with opposing surfaces that are not perfectly parallel. The Bessey swivel pads are designed to transfer the substantial clamping pressures generated without distorting.

In the Shop

When you pick up the Bessey CDF/CHV Series C-Clamps the pure heft is but one indication of Bessey’s dedication to making these tools strong. It is necessary to know that Bessey is a major player in the world high-tech steel industry and uses those extensive capabilities when designing the steel for their tools as well as the highly advanced manufacturing techniques. This is no small advantage over many other clamp manufacturers.

Applying pressure with either version of the Bessey CDF/CHV Series C-Clamps is easy because of the cleanly made Acme threads. Bessey has always done a very good job producing the Acme thread and that makes them easier to use and more durable than most others. If there is a downside to these threads it is that those who simply cannot resist applying all of the force available can crush things with the huge pressure the Bessey CDF/CHV Series C-Clamps are capable of generating. You still have to be smarter than the clamps!

While both versions of the Bessey CDF/CHV Series C-Clamps are great, I like the CHV versions more because of the copper-covered spindles. I did a lot of welding, intentionally close to the spindles during this evaluation and could not find any spatter that was stuck to the spindle. Anything that did cling to the spindle initially brushed off easily or just fell off on its own.

The ball-in-swivel is virtually automatic in its ability to conform to surfaces that are not exactly parallel. This ingenious spindle end won’t handle all non-flat surfaces but it comes close and handles way more than any other clamps I have used. Sometimes when things work too well they go unnoticed.

Conclusions

Video Tour

The Bessey CDF/CHV Series C-Clamps are everything I that I have come to expect from Bessey. They are tough, well designed, easy to use and as dependable as it gets. I would not have believed that it was possible to make a better c-clamp but Bessey has managed to do just that. The combination of high-end materials, high-tech manufacturing and a wealth of experience in the market has allowed Bessey to simply outrun the competition.

With street prices of just $34.60 for the 6” CHV clamp in this review and $22.95 (10-9-2010) for the 6” CDF version arming your shop with the Bessey CDF/CHV Series C-Clamps is not only a good idea in terms of capabilities, it is a smart monetary plan as well. It is always a better idea to buy tools that will last and will continue to perform very well over an extended lifespan. In the case of the Bessey CDF/CHV Series C-Clamps I can’t imagine ever having to replace one of these things! I know I will want more of them but that is just part of wanting to work with metal, just as it is when working with wood. The adage that you can never have enough clamps applies to c-clamps as well.

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