For a simple woodworker when it comes to a problem in life the best bet is to hit hard with a hammer. It’s an effective if not delicate approach and once you get in to the mind set there’s little that can’t be solved.
If you find you’re spending a lot of time at your workbench stood head scratching because your work won’t stay still, even though you’ve built a dozen contraptions, then you need to take on this simpler approach and grab a hammer.
A good workbench has everything you need to hold most work, and that’s before you add the vices. When demonstrating how to use the fillister plane I simply knocked in some pinch dogs to hold the board; it’s unorthodox but it’s also fast, effective and fully adjustable.
Traditional holdfasts are a more common solution, and you can’t beat the satisfaction of giving them a good whack on the top to lock them in place. A whack on the back releases them again, it’s all just a bit of flex and twist. You need holes in your bench top to use them but there’s no need to litter it like swiss cheese, a couple of keys areas should be sufficient to start. And if the thought of hitting on to your delicate work pieces curls your toes then don’t worry because you can always use the holdfasts to secure scraps of wood and cradle your work instead, or maybe they’re the answer to holding one of those work holding contraptions that you’ve already built. On second thoughts lets not make it too complicated, after all you can recreate the job of a tail vice with only one holdfast a wooden batten.
Fortunately there are many suppliers now offering good quality holdfasts and we’d like to introduce one more.
We’ve received a very small quantity of holdfasts from Simon James. Simon is an engineer and cabinet maker by trade and it would seem has a very keen eye for detail. His holdfasts are finished to an impeccable quality and more importantly they grip effortlessly. (all sold now).