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Holdfasts types and uses!

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bp122

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Hi all

I'm almost done with my workbench, which is made from a solid pine top dining table and couple of 18mm MDF sheets glued together and attached on top of the pine (uneven in many places) top.

The overall thickness is at the moment 40mm (pine) + 2x 18mm MDF = 76 mm

Depending on whether there is need for it or not (I do not know how to ascertain that either! - Height of the table / type of holdfast I get) I might top the sandwich off with a 19mm Mahogany table top (quite flat, from another table)

I plan to use holdfasts, as there isn't much of an overhang on this table to clamp the workpieces to the bench top.

Most YT videos show forged type of holdfasts, which are very hard to come by, and not cheap.
The closest one I am thinking of which doesn't break the bank are the Sjoberg ones from Axminster / ebay - about £30 for a pair of them.

1. What makes a holdfast good?
2. Has anyone else used these?
3. How and where to get hold of forged ones, if that is better?
4. Any alternatives / DIY solutions to this?

Please share your thoughts.
 

Jacob

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I'm really pleased with my 'weighted beam' holdfast. Cost next to nothing - a length of 4x2", a long bolt, a weight, a piece of string.
I first started using it here, scroll down for pics.
chest-of-drawers-wip-t116324-30.html

At first just for DTs like this.
IMG_2933 copy.JPG

then improved it with a found carvers screw instead of the bolt (don't need a spanner). Using it here to put bevel on edge of draw bottom board
IMG_2948 copy.JPG

Using it here to hold the top board and put a moulding around the edge. Quick release by turning the piece of 2x1" under it at the bench end. Quick adjust by turning the big wing nut thing - or normal nut if you haven't got one.
IMG_2954 copy.JPG


Have to say it's utterly excellent and ideal for drawer and box making, DTs mouldings on board ends and sides. Could also come in handy if using the router or hand circ saw as it not only holds down but could be the guide. Am wondering about bigger projects - have a staircase to make would help with holding strings and routing.
Very fast to set up and use. Very solid and reliable. Best thing I've ever invented! It suddenly makes multiple dovetailing much easier than it ever was.
Though it's so simple, obvious and useful it must be commonplace.
Can be mounted anywhere on the bench - just drill a hole.
If i different position it doesn't extend over the end of the bench I can just put the weights on top.
 

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Inspector

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My father's hold fast was nothing more than a 3/4" pipe with a cap screwed on one end. That was put through a piece of maple cut on the bandsaw to have the tip a little lower than the point where the pipe goes through. It went into a hole in the bench. He would position the work and hit the top of the pipe cap to tighten it all down. A tap on the end of the maple beside the pipe would loosen it for repositioning. Basically like a forged steel one at a scroungers price with a non marring tip built in. ;)

Pete
 

Steve Maskery

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If you go the DIY route, you have little to lose except your time. If they work, then fantastic, throw a little party.
I've recently bought two. I read the online reviews of the cheap (relatively speaking) ones and did not like what I read. So I bought at the LN store in Maine. £77.01. Yes it's a lot of money, and more than that if you buy them over here. But they work superbly, I have no regrets. But I certainly would have regretted buying something for, say, 40 or 50 quid that did not work properly.
Yer pays yer money and yer takes yer chance.
 

thetyreman

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Simon James Holdfasts with the free star M bit are hard to beat as droogs has pointed out in his link.
 

Steve Maskery

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thetyreman":1rrhnp95 said:
Simon James Holdfasts with the free star M bit are hard to beat as droogs has pointed out in his link.
I'm beginning to regret lugging two chunks of wrought iron from the States now! :)
 

ED65

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At the cheapest end of the spectrum ones that work, apparently very well, can be made from wood. I thought I had a picture of a couple but they must be on another hard drive. Never mind, the YouTube channel Pask Makes has a vid on making these and I think I spotted them in use in one of his recent vids so they've held up.

A few other options covered in this old thread, bench-top-with-clamps-pegs-t95141.html
 

scooby

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bp122":2dvclr18 said:
1. What makes a holdfast good?
2. Has anyone else used these?
3. How and where to get hold of forged ones, if that is better?
4. Any alternatives / DIY solutions to this?

Please share your thoughts.
1. Not sure to be honest.
2. The only type I've tried was the Lie Nielsen one (I paid about £50 from Classic hand tools). I never got on with it as it'd lose grip pretty easily. My bench at the time was only 2" thick, so that might have been the problem. It also deformed the dog holes pretty quick, bench top was only scots pine. Hardwood might have been better.
3. If I was going to buy another, it'd be the grammercy ones. I think fine tools in Germany are the nearest retailer if you're in the UK.
4. I've resorted to using quick-grip cramps/spreaders in the dog holes, seems to work ok. My current bench is about 4" thick so I might try holdfasts again.
 

MusicMan

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I also use the Simon James ones from Workshop Heaven, They work extremely well. My bench top is about 80 mm beech. That's plenty thick enough and if you added the 19 mm mahogany I think it might be too thick for holdfasts. 50 - 80 mm is good.
 

samhay

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ED65":3vmsvmgd said:
At the cheapest end of the spectrum ones that work, apparently very well, can be made from wood. I thought I had a picture of a couple but they must be on another hard drive. Never mind, the YouTube channel Pask Makes has a vid on making these and I think I spotted them in use in one of his recent vids so they've held up.
/forums/bench-top-with-clamps-pegs-t95141.html
Here you go:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92NiggRJhZA
 

samhay

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samhay":1lhmmsyq said:
scooby":1lhmmsyq said:
bp122":1lhmmsyq said:
...
3. How and where to get hold of forged ones, if that is better?
That's what I use. Made by a friend of a friend.
So, I guess you need to befriend a blacksmith.
Not sure they are better, but you could get them made to you own specification - diameter and/or reach.
 

John15

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I use the Sjoberg holdfasts from Axminster. They are quick and easy to fit in place and hold very firmly. Also no loud hammering! I have taped the handles to make them more comfortable.

John
 

bp122

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Thank you all for your responses.

Looking at the options here, in terms of buying the holdfasts, the Simon James and Sjoberg are reasonably priced. If I can befriend a blacksmith, even better :D
But I do want to try the wooden option and intrigued by the weighted beam.

On the other hand, I have come across a different idea on YT where they run T tracks along the length of the bench and a couple on the width, use hold down clamps. This saves me from having to drill the holdfast holes and buying auger / forstner bits and buying / making holdfasts at all. Although this option will be limiting in how thick a workpiece they can hold, it can be overcome buy getting some longer T bolts.

Has anyone tried this? Not judging, but this happens to be what most American YT woodworkers have - They do love their T tracks!

My workbench top has hit a bit of a snag, where the glued up MDF top was left on uneven spacers so has developed a bow. So will be sorting it out first before I look further into this.
 

samhay

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T-track makes reflattening more difficult.
For an MDF top, this may be a non-issue.
 

bp122

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Good point, hadn't considered that!
Also, because MDF is cheap, if it gets battered after a while, which will be a long while for my usage, I can replace it.
 

ED65

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bp122":2x2cb94k said:
On the other hand, I have come across a different idea on YT where they run T tracks along the length of the bench and a couple on the width, use hold down clamps. This saves me from having to drill the holdfast holes and buying auger / forstner bits
Spade bits are perfectly sufficient for drilling dog holes, no need for a much more expensive bit type. Another previous thread for you, holdfasts-t109243.html

Not especially trying to talk you out of T-track as it's another good option, I do suspect however that it may work out more expensive in the long run. And many similar hold-downs can be implemented in dog holes, along with simple peg-type dogs and other things they are conventionally used for. Also much easier and faster to drill a few dog holes than route that channel.

bp122":2x2cb94k said:
...and buying / making holdfasts at all.
I was just about to say there are loads of designs for user-made T-track hold-downs :) Aaaand, you don't need to buy T-bolts if you have a grinder. Any suitable bolt can have two parallels ground in (possibly the top flattened off slightly) to allow it to slide into a T-track.
 

Jacob

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bp122":206y34ms said:
Thank you all for your responses.......
But I do want to try the wooden option and intrigued by the weighted beam.....
It did occur to me that "the weighted beam" could be a "held-down beam" or T track, with clamps or holdfasts.
But I think the way I set it up is far more convenient - it only takes a minute to set up and seconds to release the workpiece, turn it around and put it back, and adjust if necessary. And you don't have to buy clamps, holdfasts or T tracks.

In the end it depends on the job of course
 

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