The Best Handscrews You'll Ever Own

Dubuque Handscrew Clamps

Handscrew clamps may not be the first thing you think of when you think of clamps, but they are one of the most useful workholding devices in the shop. These traditional clamps from Dubuque Clamp Works are of the best quality available anywhere.

You see, there's this little company in Iowa, the heartland of the U.S., that has been making quality clamps for over 40 years.  And, as a friend of mine says, handscrews are classic, essential tools every woodworking shop must have.

Keith and Edna Clark are the owners of Dubuque Clamp Works and they only have a few employees. They want to keep it that way. They'd rather focus on producing quality woodworking clamps. They don't even have a web site. (They tried once but had to remove it after they got swamped with orders.)

As far as we know, Dubuque Clamp Works is now the only company in the U.S. making handscrews. (The Chicago company Adjustable Clamp Company, doing business as Pony Tools and maker of Jorgensen clamps, ceased operations on May 19, 2016 after 113 years in business.)

If you've used or own handscrews from other manufacturers, chances are they were made in the Far East. I own a few. And I hate them. The jaws aren't necessarily machined square. The threads are poorly cut and sometimes bind when adjusting the jaws. And the overall fit and finish is pretty poor. I was trying to save a few bucks when I bought them.

I wish I had saved my pennies to purchase handscrews from Dubuque Clamp Works. Once you have one of these clamps in your hands, you're first reaction is going to be to give them a spin. Your second reaction is going to be, "Oh my goodness!" You won't believe how smoothly the spindles and nuts spin to adjust the perfectly machined, hard maple jaws. Trust me on this.

So what can you do with handscrews? A lot. I use the small 4" size as stops on my router fence and drill press fence.

The 6" and 8" handscrews are great for holding small parts at the drill press or router table, keeping your fingers safely away from the bit and allowing you greater control over the workpiece.

Larger handscrew clamps are great for applying pinpoint pressure in the middle of wide assemblies during glue-up.

When hand-planing the edges of long boards at the workbench, I'll clamp one end in the face vise and use a handscrew at the opposite end to support the tail end of the board.

One popular use for handscrews is to aid in the glue-up of wide panels from multiple boards. When the jaws are configured to be parallel, they can be used to align the boards, keeping them flush as the glue dries. The end result is a smoother panel. Once you own a few handscrews, you'll find dozens of uses for them.

In case you've never owned handscrews, or have struggled with how to operate them, each handscrew from Dubuque Clamp Works comes with a quaint little tag that looks like it's right out of the 1950s.

As you can see, Dubuque Clamp Works uses top-notch components and careful machining to produce their handscrews.

As the tag above states, "Our company is serious about producing the best clamp made." Yes, they may cost a little more. But these clamps are a lifetime investment in tools that can be passed down for generations. Besides, your dollars help support this small manufacturer and your purchase encourages them to keep producing quality woodworking clamps. So do your part and order your handscrews today!