Shop builds #3: work bench - my first holdfasts and dog holes

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Blog entry by SamuelP posted 03-24-2012 02:43 AM 2800 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: work bench Part 3 of Shop builds series no next part

I was looking for a decent set of holdfasts and found the usual cast ones that have been given a bad rap for being brittle. I tried to order a set of the gramercy holdfasts, but they were on back order and the site would not let me even place the order.

I had been thinking about the basics of woodworking and doing more with less, so I imagined what a carpenter would have done a hundred years ago when there were no other options. He would have gone to his blacksmith. So I did what any carpenter would have done at the turn of the century; I googled blacksmiths in my area. I found a guy about 45 mins away and emailed him my request. He was a pleasure to work with and the following is what he came up with.

Here you can see that the next set i order need to be a little bit longer for thicker stock.

This is also the first dog-hole i have bored into my bench top. I measured about 15 times to ensure it will be aligned with the pop-up on my vise that I will be installing hopefully soon.

I had to rough up the arm with 100 grit to give it some bite in the dog-hole, but they hold very tight and have a good stiff springing action.

My advice: Find a local blacksmith if you like hand tools.

-- -Sam - FL- "A man who carries a cat by the tail learns somthing he can in no other way" -Mark Twain

10 comments so far

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3077 days

#1 posted 03-24-2012 12:50 PM

Nice looking holds, the blacksmith definitely likes to add a creative touch. The gramercy is the next best alternative. You made a smart move by staying away from the cast models. Next time, I would have him make the loop a little less extreme. That is a lot of metal to try and work around. As long as the metal can flex, the holds can securely hold the work with the loop much closer to the work piece. Nice one of a kind tool to have in the shop.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View GrandpaLen's profile


1650 posts in 2241 days

#2 posted 03-24-2012 04:48 PM

Most Excellent!

I believe you could Market these if the Smithy could keep up with your sales orders.

Great little design add on.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15283 posts in 2587 days

#3 posted 03-24-2012 08:31 PM

Congrats, very nice!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 2507 days

#4 posted 03-24-2012 08:51 PM

Those look great, good idea…

-- I never finish anyth

View Bruce's profile


199 posts in 3743 days

#5 posted 05-16-2012 01:56 AM

I want that!

-- I think of Jack Nicholson as the Joker in Batman when he says "Where does he get those wonderful toys" and ask WHERE DO U GUYS GET ALL THAT WONDERFUL WOOD?

View Roswell's profile


77 posts in 2287 days

#6 posted 02-24-2014 01:54 AM

So, what did those beauties run?

-- _Never argue with an idiot. They'll just drag you down to their level and beat you with experience_

View SamuelP's profile


793 posts in 2615 days

#7 posted 03-05-2014 05:48 PM


-- -Sam - FL- "A man who carries a cat by the tail learns somthing he can in no other way" -Mark Twain

#8 posted 05-09-2016 04:05 AM

I would like to have a set of these. Is your blacksmith friend still making them and how do I get hold of him?

-- My chisel is my sword

View helluvawreck's profile


30765 posts in 2835 days

#9 posted 05-09-2016 03:52 PM

It’s a very nice pair of hold fasts.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View SamuelP's profile


793 posts in 2615 days

#10 posted 08-23-2016 10:47 AM


I got these a few years back and I have not ordered anything since, but he did a great job and was very reasonable with my requests. His website is

You can find him on pinterest as well. His name is Joseph Staub.

-- -Sam - FL- "A man who carries a cat by the tail learns somthing he can in no other way" -Mark Twain

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