Irwin XP600 One Handed Bar Clamp/Spreader

Whether you're a professional or hobbyist woodworker the Irwin XP600 clamps make a good investment that will provide years of reliable service.

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Irwin XP600 One Handed Bar Clamp/Spreader



Parallel jaw clamps are great for clamping large panels and carcasses. Because they have such a thick beam they flex very little, and they have large clamping jaws that provide a more even distribution of clamping pressure. But what most woodworkers really like about them is the tremendous pressure they exert — up to 1,500 pounds of clamping force.
 
However, for a lot of gluing jobs you really don't need all that clamping force. When applying edge banding, gluing up face frames, or assembling mortise and tenon joints or drawer parts, clamping pressure of 250 to 300 pounds per square inch will do the job. But you'll still want clamps that have minimal flex and large clamping jaws. Which is what you get with the Irwin XP600 One Handed Bar Clamp/Spreaders.
 
The XP600 clamps also has several other worthwhile features — you can convert them to spreaders, for those occasional times when you need to disassemble a project; you can use them with one hand, which frees up your other hand for stabilizing the pieces that your clamping; with the press of a button you can unlock the jaws so that they tilt a few degrees, making it easier to clamp projects (like chairs) that aren't square; and, compared to equivalent length parallel jaw clamps, they're much more economical. A Bessey K Body 40" clamp, for example, cost around $60, while a 36" XP600 (closest in clamping capacity) cost about $40.
 
XP600 clamps come in 6 lengths, with clamping capacities from 6" to 50" (see the chart below). I've been using both the 12" and 36" models.


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I-Beam helps minimize bowing

The XP600 has a 5/16" x 7/8" heat treated black oxide carbon steel I-Beam that helps to minimize twisting or bowing. In use, the 12" model barely flexed at all. However, on the 36" model flexing is somewhat more notable. I've found that almost all clamps — including bar clamps —  flex if you place stock near the tips of the clamp pads. To reduce bowing place the stock as close to the bar as possible.


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Bowing can occur with any style of clamp

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To reduce bowing keep stock close to the bar
   
The clamping jaws on the XP600 are approximately 1-1/4" by 1-5/8". They have large 1-1/2" x 3-1/2" easily removable face pads. The pads not only help protect stock surfaces, they provide a more even distribution of clamping pressure. Under full compression the XP600 exert 600 pounds of pressure - sufficient for a wide range of clamping tasks. I like that you can apply full clamping pressure with a single hand.


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Large face pads
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Pads are easily removable
As you can see in the photos above, attached to the back of each face pad is a rectangular block that makes contact with the jaw frame. This helps to keep the pads from deforming under pressure, enabling them to remain parallel (or very nearly parallel) to the stock being clamped.

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Pivoting jaws 

Sometimes you'll want to clamp stock that isn't at 90°, for example then clamping chairs or beveled molding. You can unlock the jaws, by pressing the two yellow tabs at the top of the jaws, so that they tilt a few degrees. Even if you don't regularly use this feature it's nice to have available when the need arises.
 
There is moveable ribbed foot that slides along the bottom of the I-Beam. This enables you to better balance the clamp when it's rested on a work surface. I found that it worked quite well, depending on how far it's placed from the removable jaw. When clamping short stock the weight of the movable jaw/handle causes the clamp to pivot out of balance - you'll find this happens with just about any clamp.


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The patented Power Lock™ system

It's the Irwin Power Lock™ system that enables the XP600 to deliver up to 600 pounds of sustained clamping pressure. The 'system' consists of a series of robust plates and springs that moves the rear clamping jaw/handle forward, and then keeps it in position until the release handle is depressed.


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Large handle and clamp release

The large handle makes it easier to apply pressure. However, it does take a fair amount of hand pressure on the release handle when you want to release clamping pressure, particularly if the clamp is at its maximum clamping force. You'll want to avoid the inclination to whack the clamp release lever with a length of wood or hammer - better to apply pressure by grasping it with both hands.


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Quick change screw allows you to remove the fixed jaw

A quick change spring loaded screw enables you to remove the fixed jaw so that you can convert from clamp mode to spreader mode. I like that the screw won't come completely out of the jaw housing, eliminating the danger of loosing the screw.


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XP600 in spreader mode

You simply slip the fixed jaw onto the rear of the I-Beam, and then tighten the quick release screw. The minimum spreading capacity is 9-1/8" (for all clamp sizes). The maximum capacity is from 14-5/8" (for the 6" clamp) all the way up to 58-3/8" (for the 50" clamp). Similar to clamping, you get up to 600 pounds of spreading capacity.


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The XP600 - easy to use, effective, well priced

The XP600 clamps aren't meant to be a replacement for parallel jaw clamps, but rather a supplement to your clamping arsenal. They deliver sufficient clamping pressure for a wide range of clamping tasks; can be quickly and easily operated with one hand; have large 90° pads for even distribution of clamping pressure, yet the jaws can be slightly tilted to accommodate stock that isn't square; and, are cost effective (compared to parallel jaw clamps).
 
Whether you're a professional or hobbyist woodworker the Irwin XP600 clamps make a good investment that will provide years of reliable service.


KEY FEATURES:

  • POWER LOCKS™ provide up to 600 lbs. clamping pressure
  • 3-3/4" throat depth
  • 5/16" x 7/8" steel I-Beam bar for superior rigidity
  • 1-1/2" x 3-1/2" replaceable clamping pads for even pressure distribution and work piece protection
  • 3-3/4" throat depth
  • Adjustable foot balances clamp in use
  • Double Locking Swivel Jaws
  • Quick Change Screw for easy conversion to spreader
  • Clamping capacity 6" to 50" (see chart)
  • Spread capacity 9-1/4" to 58-3/8" (see chart)
  • Limited lifetime warranty

COMPANY:Irwin
MODEL:see chart below
PRICE:from $29
MADE IN:China
SOURCE:Woodworking and hardware stores nationwide
 
                                          
XP600 Clamp Sizes
Part #Clamp CapacitySpread Capacity
2021406N6"to 14-5/8"
2021412N12"to 20-7/8"
2021418N18"to 26-7/8"
2021424N24"to 32-1/2"
2021436N36"to 44-1/2"
2021450N50"to 58-3/8"
Carl Duguay, October 2012
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