Monday, December 13, 2010

Holdfasts, a Revelation

Well I've had my workbench for a while and the vises I built on it work pretty well, but sometimes you can't easily hold what you want to do in a vise. So I had been looking at different kinds of bench-top work holding solutions. I was looking around at the various hold-downs available from Veritas, Jorgensen, Gramercy Tools, and others.

I wasn't really certain what was going to work well in my bench since its top is only 1 1/2" thick and is double laminated, void-less Birch plywood. I was looking most at the Veritas Hold Down thinking it would work best with my bench and that it was certainly a quality product. The only thing putting me off was the price and since I wanted two of them that was a consideration. I didn't really liked the way the Jorgensen worked, seemed too much of a pain to move around the bench. Finally there was the Holdfast by Gramercy Tools. I decided to take a chance on the Gramercy Holdfasts since they were simple, $32 a pair, and my satisfaction was guaranteed by Tools for Working Wood.

The holdfasts arrived in a couple of days and I put them into service right away holding my screen door stiles to be mortised. I set both of them on the stile and pounded away with my mortise chisel with no movement from the stile held by the holdfasts. Since I was doing through mortises I flipped the stile over when I was halfway through, a bang on the back of each holdfast to release and a bang on the top to reset them was quick and easy and I was back to mortising in a jiff. I did this operation several more times since each stile was receiving 4 mortises. I never worked so smoothly and it was easy to position each mortise over the leg of the bench for maximum energy transfer to the chisel. I was impressed.

Now I don't know how I lived without these. I'm so happy with them that I recommend everyone try a set of these first. I'm in love and really enjoy the ease with which I can old my work anywhere on the bench and release it in a snap.

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