How to hold down the items your working on?

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Forum topic by Rookie702 posted 10-29-2012 04:51 PM 4126 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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43 posts in 2275 days

10-29-2012 04:51 PM

The long and short of it is this, I don’t have a nice workbench with all those little bench dogs and a vice or two at the end off the bench to use to hold down stock while i am either sanding, planing, gluing or what have you, so i was curious what are some methods of holding down stock to a workbench. I do have some counter space, but more times than not, i throw a piece of 3/4” plywood on top of a 7 ft pool table that i have in my garage and use that for a table top.

It seems like every time i use a clamps, they get in the way, and i really don’t want to screw a new piece of wood down for every different piece of stock i might work on. I have made a couple of cutting boards of different sizes the last week, and for the life of me i have more trouble holding in place than anything else.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks guys.

14 replies so far

View bobasaurus's profile


3448 posts in 3182 days

#1 posted 10-29-2012 05:14 PM

Bench cookies work really well if your piece is heavy enough to make the friction prevent sliding. I hear bench hooks are good for planing stops, too, though I’ve never tried them.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2981 days

#2 posted 10-29-2012 06:29 PM

I use a piece of carpet pad, or those perforated black rubber tool drawer liners to hold some of the smaller pieces still while sanding and hand planning. If I need more holding power for like routing I’ll add a bench hold down to that. I have one hole in the bench for the hold down to go through.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3113 days

#3 posted 10-29-2012 06:31 PM

bench hook is a good idea
but make a pair so longer boards is on the same level
while you are at it make a shootingboard too

take two boards 1×8 and a 2×8 the thin one about 10 inch longer than the other
screw them together about 3 inch from the end of the thin board
in the other end of the 2×8 you can make a short stopblock that is raised all from just a few mm
to 2 inch over the 2×8 now you can clamp the thin board to your table or what ever
with out the clamps get in the way when you using planes on the project/boards
for heavyer cuts make two sawbenches they come in handy when sawing ofcourse :-)
but also as low tables when you work on other higher things
that wuold be too high to have on a table but too low to have on the floor
beside they can be used as stepstols and the place you enjoy a mug of coffee :-)
two sawhorses is a good thing to have toooo
a haevy duty sawhorse where the beam is made of a 6×6
you can have a moxon vice on a planing stop and a legvice isnĀ“t so bad to have either :-)


View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2246 days

#4 posted 10-29-2012 06:43 PM

I do all of the above, and another trick. If size allows, I’ll clamp a board to the back of my bench behind my vice, so my piece is hanging off the edge just a little. I usually use a 1/2” thick piece so when working with 3/4, I have some room. Then I put a piece of wood in my vice sticking up just below the piece I am working on. I crank the vice to hold the piece snug


View Rookie702's profile


43 posts in 2275 days

#5 posted 10-29-2012 10:01 PM

built a shooting board already, love that thing. guess im not sure what a bench hook is, what is the best type of top mounted hold down.

View a1Jim's profile


117091 posts in 3575 days

#6 posted 10-29-2012 10:08 PM

Here’s a bench hook

I’ve never had a bench with bench dogs and have used many of the above techniques

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3156 days

#7 posted 10-29-2012 10:20 PM

If you have saw horses and two short parallel clamps (my preference), then you can use these to do edge work on your boards. Put the horse close together and hook up the clamps, alternating them front and back of the horses. Put the board upright between the horses using them as jaws. The board holds strong. It’s like a poor man’s Workmate, only more substantial when using bigger horses.

-- jay,

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2108 days

#8 posted 10-29-2012 11:33 PM

I use a pop up planing stop, Grammercy holdfasts, bench hooks, and if I have to… my vises.

It’s amazing how useful good holdfasts can be, even with power tools.

View paratrooper34's profile


915 posts in 2950 days

#9 posted 10-30-2012 12:05 AM

Rookie, there are a whole bunch of improvised methods for holding stock which are really only limited by your imagination I guess.

I would like to suggest that a good workbench is more conducive to proper stock holding chores and because of that, is safer for you and your tools.

It sounds like you are invested in the hobby enough to warrant a bench and while there are some benches out there that cost a good sum of money, you do not have to buy a new expensive one. I have seen decent workbenches for sale on Craigslist, so if you don’t want to make one, you have other options. If you are interested in making your own (highly recommended, I built my first one), you would be surprised to find it doesn’t take much time and doesn’t cost very much money at all. FineWoodworking has a video series on a simple bench which was very easy to make.

This bench includes a vice and dog holes for holdfasts which coupled together will perform most stock holding chores. One nice thing about building your own is you can modify the plans to fit your own needs. Maybe add a second vise or build provisions for a tail vise, whatever. And there really is no better accomplishment than building your own tools and putting them to use (a workbench IS a tool).

That’s my two cents, Good Luck!

-- Mike

View jcwalleye's profile


306 posts in 3071 days

#10 posted 10-30-2012 02:44 AM

Members of LJ have many ingenious ways for dealing with your problem. And many turn out great pieces of work using only the most basic of tools.

But paratrooper is right. A good bench is actually just a clamping tool. Your work will become so much easier when you can work on the full face of a piece and reposition it in seconds, and have it held rock steady. Heck, you might even be able to use handplanes.

But if a bench isn’t in your future, you can sure do a lot of things without one.

-- Trees, a wonderful gift --Joe--

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2284 days

#11 posted 10-30-2012 02:46 AM

When I use the ROS I use a piece of short nap carpet. It holds the work down and you don’t even need to hold on to it.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View waho6o9's profile


8190 posts in 2575 days

#12 posted 10-30-2012 03:05 AM

Before I could afford an MFT3, I purchased a Festool top and built
my own base and made a movable bench.

If you run cleats on the wall, you can make it sturdy enough
to use hand planes. It’s fun as well.

View bondogaposis's profile


4727 posts in 2349 days

#13 posted 10-30-2012 04:16 AM

Bernouli clamps are another way to go.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 2838 days

#14 posted 10-31-2012 01:28 AM

Cam clamps are easy and work well.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

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