(Disclaimer is now on the Reviews page – this will be the last reference in a post)
I’d love to say that this review encompasses every part of the Pro Grip system, but unfortunately I haven’t purchased all the little accessories yet. However I think this review will give you a good idea of the system and what I recommend it most for – crosscutting large sheets.
Pro Grip clamps aren’t exclusive to Peachtree Woodworking, but that’s where you’re going to find the most references to when you do a search for them. I’m not entirely sure who makes them. What I do know is that it’s a pretty good system that can make a very cheap alternative to a track saw.
A track saw, for those who aren’t aware, is a circular saw that rides on a track that will give you a controlled cut. Longer versions can be used to rip cut full size sheets. Most versions aren’t that long, and are for cross cuts. They can be used to cut a sheet, or several boards at a specific length.
Dewalt makes a track saw, but the best known one is Festool. Unfortunately, both run upwards of $500 usually. While you get a saw included, that’s pretty steep for a fancy clamp.
So use a fancy clamp.
In reality, that’s what the Pro Grip system is, clamps. There’s several different options – standard, back to back (clamp the clamp to the table, and clamp something on top of the clamps. Clamp. Sorry, felt like throwing one more in). They have wide body, connectors to hook a couple up. More accessories are different levers, different connectors to drill holes, attach a fence, etc. There’s a ton of stuff you can get that is part of the system.
I started out with a 50″ clamp because my straightedge guide from Home Depot wasn’t accurate enough and tended to flex. After awhile I added a 90 degree head. It became a revelation, however, once I added a circular saw and their plate. I had been using my Ryobi One+ circular with the clamp. Just measure over 1″ and cut away. However, the performance of it was starting to suck. I found a Task Force 7-1/4″ corded circular on clearance at Lowe’s and wasn’t having good results. I was afraid my $10 investment was worth about what I paid as it was wandering everywhere, even against the guide. I took a trip over to Peachtree Woodworking in Duluth and picked up the circular saw plate and attached it to the saw.
The installation process sucked, to put it bluntly. I had to try and blindly line up where I wanted the blade to come out the other side. Instead of following the included directions, I attempted to give myself a nice round number for final measurement purposes – 6″ right of the guide. Ended up at 6-1/8″ or so. Trying to countersink the bolts on the underside was a true pain, partially due to the width of the head of the screw, and nothing to do it with besides undersized countersink bits and a chisel. Not the prettiest thing in the world, I’ll confess. But, it does to the job.
I have to say, with the addition of the saw plate, this has become one of my more used tools. It’s become indispensable when breaking down full sheets. I think perhaps at some point I’ll buy another plate and redo it so that it’s a proper 6″ away from the guide, but other than that I have absolutely no issues. Anyone that has shied away from a true track saw for it’s price needs to check this one out. I believe I have just under $80, which is about 20% of the cost of the others.
The only nod against it I have is that it takes resetting the clamp each time you do it. The lever locks it down, but the moving part on the other side wanders after successive clamps, and it takes a bit of fiddling to come up with a good system: lever all the way up, push lever side into piece, push moving side into piece, lock down the clamp (first position). Locking the clamp down into ultra-clamp mode (second position) actually seems to loosen it. I give this one four and a half stars.
Pictures might be coming, but you get a pretty good idea of what it is via the Peachtree website.
50″ PRO-GRIP STRAIGHT EDGE CLAMP BY PEACHTREE WOODWORKING PW591 – Amazon (referral)
Peachtree Woodworking – Clamping category