Harbor Freight Bremen Parallel Clamp 4-Month Review

Written on 05/22/2023
Marc Spagnuolo

This post appeared first on The Wood Whisperer.
An honest real world review of the most inexpensive parallel clamp on the market, the Harbor Freight Bremen Parallel Clamp.

Did you hear that Harbor Freight now makes parallel clamps? Of all the woodworking clamps on the market, parallel clamps are one of the most expensive. So folks tend to pay attention when a low-price (and often low-quality) vendor produces a new parallel clamp. So I decided to buy a few clamps and put them to the test. Here is my Harbor Freight Bremen Parallel Clamp Review.

The Problem with Other Reviews

I’ve seen a lot of clamp reviews over the years from both professional and amateur reviewers alike. Most perform a series of pseudo-scientific tests as well as some torture tests. Initially these parameters may seem important but actually do very little to tell you how the clamps will perform over the yers. So when I decided to conduct my review of the Harbor Freight Bremen Parallel Clamps, I knew I had to adapt a more common sense approach.

How My Review is Different

In my review, I won’t be testing things like panel flatness, head squareness, or clamping force. If you’d like to know more about why, watch this video: The Truth about Parallel Clamps). Instead, we’re going to do something incredibly ground-breaking: we’re going to use the clamps for a few months. I purchased four clamps directly from my local Harbor Freight and used the clamps in numerous glueups. Between glueups, we exposed the clamps to daily stress via mock glueups. One of the clamps was designated as the “abuse clamp” and received a little more rough treatment than the other three. The rough treatment included aggressive handling as well as repeated dragging of the head over the serrated bar.

Conclusion

If you’re in a rush, here’s a quick summary. But I highly recommend you watch the entire video for full context. Of the four clamps we tested, one failed. We noticed the clamp slipping after a few months whenever pressure was applied. We dissected the clamp and discovered that the malleable head material was ground smooth, which lead to the premature smoothing of the serrated teeth on the bar. A smooth bar translates to a head that can’t get a grip. During our testing we deliberately mistreated one of the four clamps as a bit of a torture test. Oddly enough, the clamp that failed was NOT the clamp that received the additional abuse.

Finally, we put the Harbor Freight Lifetime Guarantee to the test. The return at our local store was easy and uneventful and the broken clamp was replaced with a new one.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and performance of the Harbor Freight Bremen Parallel Clamps. In spite of the premature failure I experienced, I think many woodworkers would be well-served by these clamps especially given the cost savings and the peace of mind provided by the lifetime guarantee. But if you put a lot of hours on these clamps, I suspect you’ll be testing that return policy sooner than later.