Holdfasts anyone?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by DrJosh posted 06-29-2010 11:42 PM 1276 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View DrJosh's profile


50 posts in 2311 days

06-29-2010 11:42 PM

I’m trying to plan the design of a new workbench for my shop. I ran across some pictures online of old english joiners benches and I like the simplicity of that style of bench and the size looks like it could be talored to fit whatever space is available in your shop. The pics that I have seen show a bench with no vices but tons of holes for holdfasts. Does anyone have experience with using holdfasts? Pros and cons? From the pics it seems obviously possible to do hand tool (or power tool, I suppose) woodworking without a vise but with holdfasts only. Does anyone have any experience with using only holdfasts or know of anyone that uses holdfasts exclusively.

-- Nashville, TN

8 replies so far

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3205 days

#1 posted 06-30-2010 02:11 AM

I don’t use them a lot because I don’t have any good ones. My only comment is not to go with cheap cast ones, because they will break in half. Forged and hammered ones will be tougher.


-- Go

View barryvabeach's profile


159 posts in 2462 days

#2 posted 06-30-2010 02:28 AM

I don’t use them exclusively, but I do use them a bunch. Joel at TWW sells the Grammercy ones, that I bought, and they are great, but I just checked and he is out of stock. you might want to call to see when they might arrive. The only “trick” is that once you have rough planed your lumber, you should use a scrap of wood ( or leather ) on top of your work when you hit the holdfast so it doesn’t bruise the workpiece.

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2416 days

#3 posted 06-30-2010 03:20 AM

I use both the Grammercy and the cast holdfasts. Love them both. I will normally reach for them first before a vise. They are so quick and easy. I also like a vise for some stuff but quite simply, I would rather work with stuff up on top of my workbench rather than on the side. Even the best of vises don’t hold things that well when beating things with a mallet. End vises are overkill and tend to bow the work if you tighten them too much. Just a bench stop is fine for planing. The only thing that they don’t do quite as well is hold things on edge unless your bench legs are even with the front of your bench or you have a thick skirt on the front.

With a bench designed for it, I could easily see doing without a vise if you were only doing woodworking. I clamp lots of things besides wood in my vise.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View jusfine's profile


2405 posts in 2344 days

#4 posted 06-30-2010 03:32 AM

Lee Valley makes a variety, from brass dogs, to holdfasts, all work very well.

Drill the holes in your top where you want them, put in the dogs or holdfasts and you are on your way.

All the Best!

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View PurpLev's profile


8523 posts in 3067 days

#5 posted 06-30-2010 03:54 AM

I also use the grammercy holdfasts and they are fantastic! I use them to secure a piece down to the bench for chopping action, they should work just as well for sawing, but for hand planing I use the vise since I can’t have anything on top of the surface to be planed/jointed/smoothed, and can’t have anything in the way of the hand plane (same holds for routing – although it should work find for some routing applications)

bottom line – yes, it can work, but sometimes it’s just easier to have a vise.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View hokieman's profile


173 posts in 3172 days

#6 posted 06-30-2010 04:15 AM

I use mine all the time. I have to admit, though, that I can not remember where I bought mine. I’d recommend geteting one if you are going to do a lot of hand work.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 2493 days

#7 posted 06-30-2010 05:02 AM

I put a couple of Kreg Klamp plates in my workbench and I have a couple of Kreg hold down klamps. I think the work great. I’ve tried holdfasts and never had much luck with them.

Here is what I am talking about – -

The only problem – - saw dust can build up under the slot. The remedy – a shop vac or an air compressor.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4403 posts in 3378 days

#8 posted 06-30-2010 08:27 PM

Had my holdfast made by a blacksmith (Mike Rose) at “DollyWood” many years ago. Seemed to be pleased with the request as it was not the same old stuff. I had never used one before. Man, that puppy rocks. Locks down tightly, pops loose with just a tap, and is perfect for work to be clamped from the top of the bench or the front edge.


Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics