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The English Woodworker » Tips, Videos! » The Holdfast and the Batten – VIDEO

The Holdfast and the Batten – VIDEO

In this video I demonstrate a rather primitive method for holding down work to your bench top. As you’ll see it it just as effective as clamping between dogs using a tail vice so does that mean that I’m saying a tail vice is unnecessary? To be honest I’m still on the fence with this question. I’ve often worked with a bench that has no tail vice and so I could never say that they’re essential be I still feel that given the opportunity to build myself a new workbench I would be keen to include one.

I can also see some benefits that the hold fast and batten method can bring over using a tail vice. Firstly, on the English style workbench shown in the video it is a lot less faff to knock the hold fast down than keep having to push up your bench dogs due to that deep front apron. I also like how the end of your workbench is freed up and can be used for sawing off if you omit the tail vice completely.

For me a tail vice is mainly used for holding your work down to the top of the bench as shown in the video. Wagon style vices such as our own ‘Maguire wagon vice’ and the versions by Benchcrafted and Veritas’ sliding tail vice work exceptionally well for this. You may however prefer a vice with an opening jaw such as a Record style quick release but these can easily drop when opened wide. If your looking to use it for clamping your board flat between dogs then it can offer very little support and will unlikely stay level.
A final consideration for now comes when clamping thinner materials as you can distort a board should you over tighten it between dogs. This issue doesn’t occur with the batten but of course you would need to have a nice thin one to ensure it doesn’t get in the way.

It would be great to hear your thoughts on this – do you manage without an end vice or rely on yours daily? And how about some other suggestions for working without one, this is one of many which I use daily.

Filed under: Tips, Videos!

97 Responses to "The Holdfast and the Batten – VIDEO"

  1. ScottV says:

    This video does not play for me. Says “This video is private”. Please fix.

    1. Richard says:

      Hi ScottV, I’m very sorry for this issue – the video should be visible but we will look in to see if we can find the issue. In the meantime it can be viewed on our YouTube channel here:

  2. Richard says:

    That’s a terrific technique. I really dislike using my tail vise- I have the Veritas twin-screw vise- as it doesn’t open coplanar with the benchtop- my poor installation rather then the fault of the vise. The screw thread is also quite slow and my dog holes are too far apart. I was thinking about replacing it with the Maguire wagon vise and even spoke to Helen the other day about it. But I will try the batten approach first. I love its simplicity and its effectiveness.


    1. Richard says:

      Thanks Richard, we’ve always been good at talking ourselves out of work ;)
      We’d love to know how it compares to using your twin screw and if it does indeed manage to talk you out of that wagon vice.

  3. Ken says:

    Grate video Richard, I will be trying this one. Thanks buddy

    1. Richard says:

      Thanks Ken, do let us know how you get on. What are you currently using for this?

      1. Ken says:

        Hi Richard,

        As yet I have no tail vice or dog holes, just using battens clamped to the bench top. Hold fasts on the list for next week, don’t sell them all buddy. lol ;)

  4. Laurence Pylinski says:

    I too am having trouble seeing the video as both this web site and you tube list it as being private.

    1. Richard says:

      Hi Laurence, very sorry for the problem. It appears that YouTube (who we upload the video to) has had a slight glitch. As far as we can tell this has been fixed however you may need to refresh your browser or close and open it again for it to reload.
      I hope that this works but if not do please let me know.
      Many thanks, Richard

  5. Kees says:

    This is good! I’m gona try it as soon as possible.

    I am not very happy with my tail vise either. It doesn’t work very well for crossgrain planing, it is slow and it sags. I was thinking about installing an old Record QR vise, allready have one, but I’ll try this technique first for a while.

    1. Richard says:

      Thanks Kees, that’s another benefit which I haven’t mentioned above -all that winding of a tail vice can be very slow. A quick release can be a good solution for speed but it would be very interesting to see how you find the batten first.

  6. Ron says:

    Great information! I feel so stupid I have a traditional bench with hold fasts for several years now and never thought to use a batten like that. I will have to try it.

    1. Richard says:

      Hi Ron, that’s the beauty with holdfasts, it doesn’t matter how many times you use them there’s always another new solution to be found.

  7. Adam Maxwell says:

    This was a neat technique; thanks for showing it!

    I’ve never used a tail vise or wagon vise, so don’t know what I’m missing. I use a crochet and holdfasts on the apron in lieu of a face vise, as well. This puts me fully in the primitive method camp, I reckon.

    I have two battens that live in my benchtop, between the boards of the top, and can be adjusted. I also have a couple of wooden planing stops that can be raised and lowered with a mallet, based on Mike Siemsen’s bench design.

    1. Richard says:

      Thanks for sharing your photo, it’s great to see all those ‘primitive’ stops there in your bench top. I’ve included a wooden planing stop like yours in my English style bench – it’s good for heavy work but I have to admit I find the convenient push fit of the round bench dogs sees those getting the most use.

  8. Cliff says:

    Very interesting technique — thanks for posting!

    1. Richard says:

      Thanks Cliff

  9. Laurence Pylinski says:

    As you clearly demonstrated sometimes the simplest things are the best. Thanks for the video, I will be certain to include this in my bench work.

    1. Richard says:

      Thanks Laurence, for some reason the simplest things are usually the least obvious when you’re looking for a solution but once found they can certainly be amongst the best. I can’t remember now when I first used this technique but it has since had a place in much of my work, even when a tail vice is available.

  10. Paul B says:

    I’ve used batons as front stops but this is totally new to me. I’ve had an Ulmia german style bench for a few years and I really keep wishing it had a holdfast and a more sustantial face vise but wouldn’t want to give up the tail vise. This video may have pushed me into believing that I could do without it. Fantastic editing on the vid, by the way.

    1. Richard says:

      Thanks Paul, it’s great to hear that’s it’s got you thinking about your own use of vices. Workbench design is generally very personal to the owner as whilst we all work wood we do go about it in our own unique ways. I think what works so well with this technique is you can give it a go to get a feel without making alterations or expensive additions to your bench.

  11. Hello Richard,

    Thanks for taking the time to make the superbly demonstrated video. How thick is your British style bench top? Often the Brit tops can be quite thin but I guess yours is quite thick to make the holdfast work. Also was it typical for a British style bench to use holdfasts? Most I have seen just have a planing stop and one leg or quick release vice. Makes we wander if there is some other combination that could be used on the British type benches.

    1. Richard says:

      Hi Graham, the top on my workbench is 68mm thick – certainly thicker than many of the English workbenches but that said I’ve seen several old examples with even thicker tops but thin aprons.
      Of course it depends how far back you look as to the amount of variety there was in the features found on English workbenches but generally speaking tail vices were late in being accepted here so planing stops played a big role and holdfasts were definitely used in early style English workbenches.

      1. Thanks Richard. I wonder if a holdfast would work on 44mm thick?

        1. Richard says:

          Hi Graham, the aprons on this workbench are less than 44mm and my holdfasts work in those no problem – I guess it can depend on the particular holdfasts to some extent.

          1. That’s great to hear. I now know where I will be obtaining my holdfasts. I like the look of your leg vice pins. Now all I need to find is time…………

  12. patrick anderson says:

    Still working on getting my bench done but it’s a clone of David B’s so no tail vice. Your idea with the batten may well come in handy particularly as I have a rather nice holdfast that was sent to me by some pony tailed bloke.

    I really like that plane you’re using. Looks like it makes short work of flattening boards. I could use something like that sharpish.

    1. Richard says:

      Thanks Patrick and best of luck finishing up your bench build. That’s a very rough old plane given to me by my Granddad. It’s set with a large camber on the iron, the mouth is worn open pretty wide so it’s no good for fine work but can hog of large shavings very quickly.

  13. hi richard (and helen!),

    great video, and certainly a neat trick. i love my wagon vise though, so i don’t know if i’ll ever try it. i’m also not sure it would work for me.

    i frequently will plane diagonal to the grain to flatten a board. however, it is my understanding that in order to ensure flatness, it is important to switch directions frequently. so, first i plane in the direction you show in your video (from front right corner to rear left), and then switch direction so that i’m planing from rear right to front left.

    the jig you show would not accomodate this direction switching, and that seems like an issue to me. i’d be interested to hear your method for flattening boards since it must be different than mine.

    1. Richard says:

      Hi Lars, that’s a great point and I’m sure it could be a relevant issue for many others. The holding technique works well with the flattening method which I prefer but since it would be quite in depth to explain here I will consider making a post about this specifically at some point.

      1. tailwagger says:

        Thanks Richard! Good stuff. Like Lars, I too would be very interested in your flattening technique for the stated reasons. I’m planing my first bench, which will be a bench to make my lifelong bench. This batten and holdfast method would solve a problem of not sinking a lot of money in vises into the first bench. It makes a lot of sense (and cents!). I love the simple elegance of it. I think it would do well. If so, I just might carry it over to the lifelong bench and do away with the tail vise altogether. That is, if I can learn and master your new-to-me technique of flattening. At this early stage in my journey the timing could not be better. Looking forward to a future post!

  14. Arthur van der Harg says:

    This is a great solution. The 45 degrees together with the length of the batten keeps you from bumping into the holdfast when planing across. I must give this a try.

    1. Richard says:

      Thanks Arthur, and again if you do manage to give this a try then we’d love to hear.

      1. Arthur says:

        Well, it works! I did have to try twice. First of all, you don’t want the batten too thin or it will buckle. You also want a bit of width because you want both the long and short sides of the slot to have some leverage. And finally, you don’t want to make it too short or you’ll find you have trouble positioning your holdfast out of the way. But having fixed that, the holding power is remarkable. Really useful technique!

        1. Richard says:

          Hi Arthur, many thanks for letting us know how you got on. I’m pleased you found it to hold securely, I tend to go with a thickness of around 3/8″ to keep it stiff but I think you could go smaller than this if you have some thinner boards to hold.

  15. Kees says:

    Just a quick question Richard. In your video you say that this method is “hundreds of years old”. Do you happen to have documentation to support this claim? This came up on one of the woodworking forums. It would be interesting and fun to see an old painting with a guy using this…

    1. Richard says:

      Thanks Kees, an interesting point to bring up but no old paintings I’m afraid ;)
      I’ve a huge interest in the historic side of woodworking so it’s something I study and consider in great depths but I don’t have your typical academic approach. The trouble with sourcing document evidence for the everyday tips and tricks of a humble woodworker comes down to the fact that they would have had very limited ability to read and write. Anything documented is likely to show a picture of the activities around the wealth and education of the cities; this is a great source of information but is limited. Something we all do even today in our workshops is create our own methods and solutions which we develop through our work -the only way for many of these methods to be continued is when one maker shares his experience with another.
      The use of battens is documented but I’ve never come across anything written specifically about this technique here. I was however shown the method by my granddad when I was fairly young and my granddad had been shown it when he himself was young by a chap who was pretty old at that time… I know that various different methods for using battens have been in use for hundreds of years and can be sure that this one has gone back at least three generations – very likely longer.
      I’ve also just read Shannon’s comment below and am very interested and pleased to hear that this method has also been in use in the States – I had thought perhaps it was something that had been used locally but this does show a wider use.
      I hope this helps, I don’t want to delve too much (even though I’ve just babbled here!) as I have a post planned with more information about this kind of thing.

      1. Kees says:

        Thank you for youe explanation Richard. So this method is at least “traditional”. In a country like England that really means something.

        I don’t think I agree with you about joiners being half illeterate. To be a joiner was a very respectable occupation. They were certainly middle class. For example one of the earliest known plane makers in Rotterdam, late 17th century, was quite a public figure whose name is found in many solicitors documents. In the 17th century the middle class in Holland was very important and the Dutch painters made many paintings for them, illustrating daily scenes. When you go back further you find mostly religous art, but because Josef was a carpenter, it is not uncommon to see a painting of Jesus in a woodworking shop.

        1. Richard says:

          Thanks Kees, another great input and it’s certainly important to note that at no point am I trying to say that all late 17th century joiners were illiterate. I think what’s important with any discussion like this is to take in to account the huge diversity through history for the use of woodworking. We’re talking not only about joiners or tool makers but of anyone throughout a number of centuries whom had a requirement to build from wood. This range is staggering and covers a huge range of locations, classes and finished products. Without going in to too much clarity here I feel that the main point I was making is that whilst a great number of techniques have been clearly documented it is without doubt that there would have been many others which could only have been passed on through direct teaching. This is especially true should you go back further in time or consider only the rural craftsmen; men of varied skill who would have built furniture but were not specifically woodworkers by profession. Even very late on these craftsmen may have had limited reading and writing skills, here’s a quick quote to help create a broader picture:
          “The literacy of townspeople also grew more quickly than that of rural dwellers. By the mid-eighteenth century London and Paris had literacy levels not achieved nationally until the late nineteenth century.”
          I will try to bring forward my post about this so I can get more points across, but either way isn’t this an absolutely fascinating subject?

          1. Kees says:

            Sure, very interesting. And I agree, lots of knowledge was passed from master to aprentice and not written down. For example building ships, must have been very complex constructions at that time, but they didn’t work from drawings. They just knew how to build a ship. Books about tecnical subjects are more a 19th century thing.

    2. Bob DeViney says:

      Derek Olson (Old Wolf Workshop) points to Roubo’s “L’art du Menuisier” plate 14, figure 17 for an example. Guess we’ll know for sure when the translation comes out in print.

      1. Richard says:

        Hi Bob, I’ll certainly have to have a little neb and read through that on my next tea break, thanks for sharing.

      2. Dokotekton says:

        As far as I understand that figure (and the book), it explains exactly what you are doing. the “pied de biche” (doe’s foot?) is used to clamp the board towards a stop. it is fixed by a “valet” (holdfast?).
        So indeed this seems to be rather a traditional use, even documented by Roubo.

  16. Shannon says:

    Love my tail vise but I also have a Benchcrafted beauty. However, I use this technique a lot when I’m down at the other end of the bench and need a quick way to hold something for spot planing or paring work. The beauty is that all you need is a hole for the holdfast and you can leave your tail vise set up on something else.

    1. Richard says:

      Hi Shannon, thanks for this. As you’ll see in my reply to Kees above I’m very interested to hear that you also use this technique, is there anything that you might add to the questions about its origin?
      By the way, keep up the good work.

  17. Mark says:

    Thanks for showing me that! I’m really really going to have to get some holdfasts now! Oh, and a bench to use them on!
    Joking aside, I’ve never used them, never had a suitable bench. For many years I made do with a 12″x40″ top that I clamped to the table saw. It had a record 7″ on the end and no face vice. I always meant to fit one but never got around to it. When I started to see the light I sold my table saw and planer etc. I had enough room for a “proper bench”. Then my stupid nerve fired up and I bought a Sjorbergs! Luckily it was a cheap ebay purchase.
    Over the last couple of years I’ve added a dog hole at the back of the top square to the dog in front of the shoulder vice. A batten across these two dogs makes a good planing stop. I also use a board rebated on either edge to drop in the top of the tool well to allow cross planing. I also made a board jack to fit into the tail vice, with a clamp for long boards. While this bench has many problems, these small mods make it much more useable.
    I find the face vice of limited use. While you can hold long boards for dovetailing, you can’t hold small bits at the top because the jaws swivels about too much. The tail vice however is another story. I love it, with the addition of a few special dogs it holds most of my work. I’m not sure if I could live without it or just need to try alternative solutions.
    Sorry for the ramble.

    1. Richard says:

      Thanks Mark, I love a good ramble myself!
      I think even if your workbench is perfect or if like yourself you’d prefer it to have some improvements, it doesn’t hurt to have an arsenal of stops and gizmos to add on when the situation calls for it. It sounds like you’ve made a lot of benefits through small and simple additions and I think the best solutions when it comes to bench add ons should be those that are simple and faff free.
      Thanks for your input.

  18. Bob Strawn says:

    I have never seen that method before, and I love it!

    My method of vise avoidance is to put a few dogholes in a table leg. Then I use a holdfast as a vise.

  19. TerryMcK says:

    Great technique. I have a tail vice but very rarely use it as it is a regular vice and boards tend to lift from the bench. I certainly will be using this simple method from now on. Thanks for sharing Richard.
    Great site BTW :)

  20. John leach says:

    Hello Richard and thank you for that video! I made a batten up immediately, and it works exactly as advertised. Since I don’t have a tail vise, this beats the pants off the previous method I’d been using.

    Just to let you know, I was so happy with the results that I posted about this video both on Woodtalkonline ( ) and an Italian forum Arca di Legno ( )

    The videos are great for non english speaking woodworkers, they just watch what you do, and how you do it!

    Look forward to future episodes,

    Best regards,


    1. Richard says:

      Thanks John, pleased to hear that it’s been useful to you and I really appreciate you sharing the video :)

  21. Phil Day says:

    Great video, Richard!

    I don’t have a tail vise or face vise on my bench. I rely solely on holdfasts, clamps, a planing stop, and the crochet on the front. I will be trying out a batten as you demonstrated really soon.

    Thanks for the fantastic blog.

    1. Richard says:

      Thanks Phil, I hope the batten can come in useful on your no vice bench! I’ve often had no tail vice but have always included something at the face, always been intrigued by the crochet though.
      All the best, Richard.

  22. Chris Buckingham says:

    Well Richard,You are getting plenty of response on this one! I have never seen this technique,it looks to good to dismiss,although it does require a clear bench top (a luxury I rarely have), I must go and give it a try,many thanks for posting!

  23. Steve Branam says:

    Thanks, this is an awesome method! I love my holdfasts, and this just doubled their usefulness. I have 2 portable folding workbenches that I use for demos with no vise of any kind, just stops and dog holes. I’ll have to experiment a bit with them using this method.

    1. Richard says:

      Thanks Steve, good to hear you’re giving it a try. I’m sure you’ll find all sorts of ways to adapt it for different tasks, especially if you work without a vice.

  24. Fantastic, I wish I hate seen this video this afternoon when I was struggling to hold a board on my bench.
    First thing I do in my shop next, try out what I have just learned,
    Thank You,
    Ian Waltenbery

  25. Chuck Schilling says:

    What I I
    Like about this approach is how easily and quickly you can just continue on. I’ve used a batten before without the notch and when I flip the board to work the other side, I often have to readjust. Thanks for the technique, Richard.

  26. IanB says:

    Used this technique today. Works awesome. I don’t have a proper bench just a few clamps and some tuned up hand planes and I was struggling with cross-grain planing using just the clamps. This technique really saved me today. Go batton.

    Have some photos too, how do I send share them with you?

    1. Richard says:

      Hi Ian, I’m really pleased to hear the battens been working well for you. Would love to see the photos, you can send them through to

  27. Andyryalls Ryalls says:

    Hi Richard
    Now you have me thinking as I us Japanese planes that work on the pull stroke ,I’m gonna see if the same thing can apply some how.
    Very interesting

    1. Richard says:

      Hi Andy, I’d be very intrigued to know how you get on. I’m sure with a few amendments it could work or at least the basic principle – though I’ve never used Japanese planes myself.

  28. Scott says:

    just brilliant

  29. Marty Backe says:

    Hi Richard,

    Great tip and explanation.

    Could you expand on why the 90 degree notch is made at a 45 degree angle to the end of the batten? Since your description is so specific regarding the notch orientation, there must be a reason.


    1. Richard says:

      Hi Marty, good question. There’s no exacting science to the 45 degree orientation of the angle but after much playing it has become my preference. It seems to come in well when you are positioning the batten across the bench top from your holdfast hole but it could be worth a bit of experimentation.
      Cheers, Richard

  30. JJM COLBERT says:

    Great Video !!

  31. Will says:

    This is brilliant. I have my great grandpas work bench and the tail vice has stopped functioning and so find a way to hold my stock steady as I flatten it has been a nightmare. Gotta give this a go. Does the length of the notched board matter? I expect I’ll find out for myself. Thanks!

    1. Richard says:

      Hi Will, there’s no hard and fast rules for the length, if you have a play about you should soon find what works well for you and your bench. I’d be very interested to hear how you get on.
      Cheers, Richard

  32. Adrian says:

    I generally find when jointing that I need to use wedges to keep the board from rocking or flexing, since the side that is on the bench is not flat. If I only use a stop, the board moves and the wedges don’t stay in position. I used to use an L-shaped board to hold one end and a “wonder dog” to hold the other end of the board.

    I feel like the wagon vise I now have has revolutionized my work and made everything so much easier that I’d be very reluctant to part with it.

    1. Richard says:

      Hi Adrian, I know what you mean, a good wagon vice is a pleasure to use!

  33. I seriously love your website.. Very nice colors & theme.
    Did you develop this site yourself? Please reply back as I’m hoping to
    create my own personal website and would love to find out where you got this from or what the theme is called.
    Thank you!

  34. Ed says:

    I’d like to try this for plowing grooves. That’s one of the trickier clamping jobs since something always seems to be in the way of something else and the plane is at the edge of the work causing the wood to torque out of the clamps.

  35. Jon says:

    I am about to begin work on a workbench. I plan to do it as inexpensive as possible. I have some older vises, but no tail vise. I think I’d use a tail vise often. However, after seeing this, I am going to make a few of these and give it a whirl. Thanks!

  36. Rich says:

    Thanks for the video! My small garage has a non-movable storage cabinet at the end of my workbench. I’ve created bench dogs and planing stops, and have holdfasts. I’ve been trying to figure out how to get a tail vise to work in this space. Now the problem is solved. Thanks!

  37. Tom says:

    Brilliant. Simple mechanical idea that should have made the inventor a millionaire. I will certainly try it. I have a bench with no tail vice and has delayed fitting one (due to expense and work of fitting one), but this renders it unnecessary. Many thanks for sharing.

  38. tom says:

    i had the opportunity to try this and it worked perfectly, thanks for the great tip

  39. Ted says:

    I wonder about optimal placement of holdfast holes for this technique. Also, how long of a board could be held relative to the length and width of the bench.

  40. gary says:

    I built my bench about 2 years ago. I liked the idea of a wagon vise so I bought the hardware from Benchcraft. This vise is great to use. That said, when I saw your video I went out to the workshop and built this batten to try. I love it. It’s faster then the wagon vise and works wonderful. Thanks Richard.

  41. Karl Newman says:

    Hi; 32 years, I have never used a tail vice, even when available.

  42. Tried it, its awesomely simple and works brilliantly. So much so any concept of adding a wagon/tail vice is firmly on hold.

  43. Kevin M says:

    Richard, this idea came along at the perfect time. When I built my bench almost 30 years ago, I didn’t make arrangements for a tail vise. Lately, I’ve been needing something to hold stock for face planing, but without a tail vise it was tedious. The batten works great! It holds the work steady, and since it’s made of thin stock it doesn’t get in the way. Also, I don’t have hold fast holes along the top of my bench (yet), so I’ve been using a clamp to hold the batten. It works perfect, no slippage at all. Thanks for a great tip!

  44. Interesting video. I use an entry level Sjoberg bench (which I’m hoping to upgrade, hence my presence here!) with movable vices, and the ‘tail vice’ is now permanently set as a second face vice on the right of the bench and used to hold my shooting board in place which ‘lives’ there unless I really need the space for something as it’s so frequently used it’s not worth storing it away. So I’ve got used to simply never using a tail vice but the option’s there if I need it. I also use Veritas wonder-pups which are very versatile as they can be set at any angle to secure shaped workpieces. I haven’t tried the batten method but very soon shall now I’ve seen this video.
    One problem with the tail vice can be the compression of thin workpieces causing them to bow. I do a lot of work with timber about 3mm thick for contrasting box-linings etc. To plane these I simply use a board of MDF with a very thin wooden stop glued (not nailed) across the end and a batten underneath to clamp in my face vice. This provides ample support for the thin pieces without compressing them.

  45. Alan says:

    I do not have a tail vise and I struggle with cross planing. This is going to make my efforts a lot easier. Many thanks. The Chris Schwarz blog pointed me over here and from the few entries I’ve read so far you’re on my list of regular reads. Thanks again!

  46. Brad says:

    Thank you Richard, I’ve been looking for a consistent way to hold rough boards to dimension via cross-planing.

    What are the general dimensions and wood preference of the battens that you use?

    1. Richard says:

      Hi Brad, there’s certainly no wood preference, anything that’s to hand should do. About 1/2″ thick x 2″ wide should be a good place to start although it isn’t really that important. I’d love to hear how you get on.
      Cheers, Richard

  47. Karl F. Newman says:

    Hi; I couldn’t afford a bench vise as I was starting out 41 years ago. So I used a variety of battens and wedges to hold the work. I got so used to using battens the I have never bothered to buy a bench vise.
    I only recently (2 years ago) acquired a good holdfast. My goodness I like it!
    I will try this technique tomorrow. but I can tell you now I’m going to like it!
    For holding long boards up on edge I have a “vise” that is 2 blocks of wood ( 1.5″ x 1.5″ x 10″) fastened to the benchtop at a 1:10 angle and a matching wedge.

  48. Salko says:

    Wow I’ve never seen so many comments on a blog site before, I saw your link at the unplugged workshop I’m glad I did. I’ve never had a tail vice and have always been frustrated working without one. Yesterday I bought some Veritas plane stops I wish I had viewed this video before I threw my money on the counter. This is a fantastic idea and I don’t think I will ever need a tail vice. Great video and thanks for your tip I’ll checking out your other videos and see what else you have up your sleeves.

    Peace from down under

  49. Salko says:

    Richard I’d hate to be the only one to say it doesn’t work for me, I cut the two notches but the timber keeps sliding out. The smaller notch isn’t locking the timbber corner in.

  50. Martin says:

    Hi Richard,
    I haven’t seen that method before, but it’s good!
    Here’s one I made, it’s the quickest hold down there is(I think so anyway). (This video is the first video I’ve made so it’s poor, but it’s only a demo to show my hold down/hold fast)
    I found a Logarithmic spiral on Google images, printed it out then transferred it to a bit of scrap and cut it out. It is used in conjunction with a fixed piece the other side of the work piece which the work piece will be held against.
    A larger logarithmic spiral can be cut out to give a wider range of movement to hold down a wider range of boards.
    The idea comes from my main hobby, rock climbing where a piece of gear (called a cam unit) is used to protect the climber in the event of a fall, and works on a modified logarithmic spiral, it is placed in a crack in the rock face and when the climber falls it gets tighter, the same principal is used on the hold down, the more pressure the tighter it gets, but it’s easy to release and there are no tools required to use it.
    I would love you to give it a try and let me know what you think.

    1. Ian says:

      Hey Martin, that’s quite genius. Rather than a permanent bolted fixture to the bench top, I’m going to try this out using a log. spiral on a low friction dowel just plonked into a dog-hole, and see if that works as well. It can then be moved around quickly and easily into any suitable hole, and the ‘fence’ clamped down to suit the timber being worked, and the direction it is being worked.

  51. Brad says:

    Hi Richard,

    Regarding the placement of the holes in the bench for the holdfasts. My bench is 2 feet by 5 feet. How many holes would you suggest and what spacing do you prefer?

  52. Chris says:

    That is genius!
    I’m about to plan my first workbench and I’m still considering which type (though I’ll probably do like paul sellers does) to build and even more which clamping style I’d like to have.
    This is one of the answers!

  53. Tommy says:

    Keep the good work. Enjoy your videos

  54. Dave says:

    What are the specs for the batten please?

  55. mjhere says:


    Thanks for the video, love the old ways (so simple)
    Had a hard time sourcing a holdfast clamp in England, so I went to a local Blacksmith who made one for me (at a reasonable price)it has made a world of difference when planing thin pieces of wood


  56. Hi Richard,
    first let me say “very good demo thank you” I have a quick release vice with built in dog and I installed a line of holes in my bench for inserting bench dogs, I find it a must for many jobs and I fully believe that the old methods still work as good if not better than many of the new ones

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