Armor Tool review by Jonathan Salisbury, The Woodworker September 2019
Wood Workers Workshop sent Jonathan Salisbury a collection of clamps and other useful items for review. Here he unpacks the box and takes a look at what’s inside...
Based in Worcestershire, Wood Workers Workshop is owned and managed by master craftsman and furniture designer-maker, Peter Sefton. Specialising in quality woodworking tools from North America his small, dedicated team of woodworkers offers advice based on personal experience. Since the tool shop is located at Peter’s furniture school, there’s even a workshop where you can try before you buy. Wood Workers Workshop were keen for me to have a look at some of the different clamps they have in stock; in addition, they added some other surprises, all packaged up in a big lucky dip box. It’s like Christmas all over again… I usually only have to cope with one at a time, but this has been an interesting experience and an opportunity to provide a few mini tests for you.
Armor Tool Auto-Adjust clamps & 14in dog-fence
I reviewed some self-adjusting toggle clamps in January this year and the Arm or Auto Adjust clamps are very similar in function; as the lever is pushed down and the foot meets the material, resisting forces move the sliding, sprung mechanism behind the lever backwards. This locks in place and the clamp then operates in the same way as a ‘normal’ toggle.
How they work
There are two ‘hold down’ clamps and one ‘inline’ clamp in this review. The hold down clamps are of a familiar layout – a clamp head is fixed to a threaded bar, which can be adjusted up and down as well as closer to or further from the clamp lever. Unlike most toggle clamps which require a spanner, the nut on the Armor clamps is knurled and can be tightened by hand; it also has flats if a spanner is required. The lower nut is a plate with a threaded hole. Clamping pressure can be adjusted by turning a small screw behind the linkages and, once set, the same amount (more or less) is applied regardless of the thickness of material under the foot. The horizontal, in-line clamp uses a quick-release system that slides in and out to position the clamp head. This locks in place as soon as pressure is applied by the lever.
On the bench
While every clamp is much the same above the surface, what makes them different from each other is the way they are fixed to the bench. Most toggle clamps use a plate requiring screws, but these fit into a T-Track or ¾” holes, making them easier and quicker to reposition.
The B5-HH works exceptionally well and would be a useful addition to any workshop using benches or machines fitted with standard tracks…
PROS: Large lever makes it very easy to use; impressive clamping force to hold work and jigs in place; can be located anywhere along the track
CONS: Only one size of T bolt supplied, which doesn’t fit all T-tracks
RATING: 4 out of 5
For flexibility when clamping a variety of thicknesses to the bench, this clamp is hard to beat...
CONS: Requires the correct size hole in the right place; worn or 20mm holes require the 20mm dog, sold separately
RATING: 4 out of 5
I was particularly impressed with the P7-IL , so much so that I plan to get a few for my drill table and for routing and framing projects…
the clamping force is released; long throw to deal with a variety of sizes of material; expands to fit ¾” to 20mm holes
CONS: Also requires a hole in the right place; longer pieces may require more than one clamp
RATING: 5 out of 5
The P7-IL provides a good-looking, robust alternative to wooden battens. It provides a strong, securely attached stop against which one or more P7-IL clamps are used to secure work…
CONS: Needs the optional 20mm pegs for worn or 20mm holes
RATING: 3.5 out of 5
The toggle clamp system is a fabulous time saver over methods that use a screw thread, especially with the self-adjusting feature. It’s a shame that the mountings, either T bolts or pegs, are not more interchangeable. And if your bench has 20mm holes you’ll also need to add on the cost of the 20mm pegs. Nevertheless, all three clamps, and the fence, performed exceedingly well, as expected. I’d certainly be happy to have a rack full of any of these in my workshop.