Workbench clamping options

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Forum topic by Matt Michaud posted 01-09-2012 10:18 AM 10044 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Matt Michaud

35 posts in 3306 days

01-09-2012 10:18 AM

Topic tags/keywords: workbench

Ok, so I have been browsing workbenches for a few months now trying to settle on a design. This will fit into the wing of my cabinet saw as that is all of the space I can afford (and still be able to get to all sides). Here is the twist: almost all of our work is in composites (building skis, longboards, and other carbon fiber creations) which means the machines are mostly the same but the projects are a little different. I never have to clamp a large flat board for sanding or hand planing. I cant think of any time when I would want to clamp a work piece at its sides and this seems to be the vast majority of how the workbenches are designed to be used. 90% of the time I am clamping a part down to a worksurface with the edge overhanging so that I can jigsaw off flash. I want some more convenient options than a C-clamp at the edge of the table every time. So far I have come up with t-slots (worried about the tear out strength) or Kreg plates (not much range of motion). I cant be the only person that likes to clamp vertically – what am I missing???

-- "Strength in Composites"

17 replies so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15822 posts in 2859 days

#1 posted 01-09-2012 01:12 PM

What does it mean to ‘jigsaw off flash?’ I may be misreading..

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

View paratrooper34's profile


915 posts in 3193 days

#2 posted 01-09-2012 01:23 PM

Matt, most benches use a few different methods of clamping to the surface. There are bench dogs used in collaboration with vises. There are round holes which accept holdfasts, which is a very efficient way to keep things clamped down securely and should work nicely for what you describe your need is for. F clamps (which are much more easier to use over a c-clamp) are another option. Another one to consider is drilling 3/4” holes and using a Veritas holdfast, which could be very useful for what you describe.

Good Luck.

-- Mike

View jmos's profile


905 posts in 2610 days

#3 posted 01-09-2012 03:25 PM

Gramercy also makes a nice, inexpensive holdfast you could try. Sounds like what you’re looking for.

-- John

View bondogaposis's profile


5155 posts in 2592 days

#4 posted 01-09-2012 03:57 PM

Sounds like a workbench with dog holes and set up to use holdfasts would be ideal for your situation. Amos Tucker makes some nice ones for reasonable cost. He sells them on ebay. and they are very nice and work great.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3315 days

#5 posted 01-09-2012 04:09 PM

I have one of these on my workbench and I find that I use it a lot. It is very handy.

Two tips -

(1) You need to mount it flush with your workbench, but you probably already knew that.
(2) You need a shop vac or an air compressor to clear chips and dust out of the cavity under the plate every once in a while. I find an air compressor does a better job, but it makes a modest mess in the shop.

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

View Matt Michaud's profile

Matt Michaud

35 posts in 3306 days

#6 posted 01-09-2012 07:17 PM

Smitty: when you layup a composite part you end up with excess composite around your part. This is the “flash” that I jigsaw off. Some guys prefer to use a bandsaw but I find it kills blades too quick (if only saws had a “woodworking coolant”). Anyway back to the workbench:

Benchdogs with an end vice is not vertical pressure. Unfortunately I cannot clamp at the edges of my parts because it is just flexy composite flash and I want to be able to cut three sides at once. Holdfasts seems to be what I was missing. It seems like they would slide out. The concept is like an f-clamp, but an f clamp has a short female section (so more angle) and a knurled male section (so more grip). Smooth metal on a deep smooth wood hole seems much less reliable. One place I read said that people often need to hammer in their holdfasts. So here is what I am getting at: what is the advantage of a holdfast over a Kreg bench clamp. It seems like the Kreg holds stronger and allows me to have more shelf space underneath while the holdfast keeps the workbench looking more traditional.

-- "Strength in Composites"

View jmos's profile


905 posts in 2610 days

#7 posted 01-09-2012 07:23 PM

The holdfasts are not 3/4” thick, so they don’t slide in and out of the dog hole like a piston. They are smaller and they wedge into the hole. A tap of a hammer wedges them tight, and a knock on the side loosens them. Very old method that has worked for centuries.

The Kreg is more like a clamp that set into the surface, which would work fine. The Veritas, also has a clamp type head to allow you to fine tune the clamping pressure of the holdfast.

-- John

View oluf's profile


260 posts in 3280 days

#8 posted 01-11-2012 06:52 AM

Mount a piece of 3/4” plywood to the celing above the work bench. Make up extendable poles the attach to or have location sockets on the plywood and do your clamping from above. You can make this system work very well if you make saddles for under your work below the clamp pole. Trust me you will mot be the furst one to use this system. How do I know?

-- Nils, So. Central MI. Wood is honest.Take the effort to understand what it has to tell you before you try to change it.

View Sylvain's profile


769 posts in 2740 days

#9 posted 01-11-2012 11:02 PM


If I may… one way to use the system is :
The pole are longer than the distance between the ceiling and the piece and
the pole are bowed so as to act as a spring to push the piece down.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

View anobium's profile


64 posts in 2585 days

#10 posted 01-19-2012 01:41 PM

Adopt the Festool MFT principle and add a bunch of holes to the surface.
The guy who did the to the fullest extend is ron paulk.
I am not saying you should build this bench but look at his videos and ideas for a universal use.
Or check this guy out:
I like the clamping slot up front that could be on the side of your extended table

-- Whoever finds mistakes can keep them. English is a foreign language to me.

View WoodyWooderson's profile


5 posts in 2822 days

#11 posted 01-19-2012 05:42 PM

View bbjjj's profile


29 posts in 2572 days

#12 posted 01-19-2012 06:58 PM

You might consider mounting your jigsaw into the table or maybe a Blade Runner might be the ticket.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7770 posts in 3155 days

#13 posted 01-19-2012 07:32 PM

Veritas Surface Clamps. At $79.99 each, they are not cheap but they work extremely well. I have two and would love to have two more. They work by wedging in your dog hole(s) and then the clamp itself can rotate 360 before activating the hold-down. I also use them to hold down my mortising machine to the bench.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View LukieB's profile


966 posts in 2571 days

#14 posted 01-19-2012 08:00 PM

I would recommend the Kreg bench clamp system, besides the clamp plate that some other posters have mentioned, they also have the “Klamp Trak” (that fits the 1 sided kreg clamp) which is just a t-track beefed up for extreme vertical clamping pressure. I have one going each way on my bench and I love them. With my face vice and tail vice in line with them(the one’s with the “sliding steel dogs”) the clamping possibilities are endless, vertical or horizontal. I can post some pics if you want.

-- Lucas, "Someday woodworks will be my real job, until then, there's this"

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15822 posts in 2859 days

#15 posted 01-19-2012 08:02 PM

Those veritas clamps are things of beauty… Wish I had a couple, period…

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

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