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Thread: Hold fasts

  1. #1
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    Hold fasts

    I am in the planning stages of a woodworking bench. I have the Benchcrafted Classic and a 52 1/2 Record for vises and the BC plaining stop. I intend to get one or two hold fasts. I see BC has a 1” and LN has 3/4.” The 3/4 would be simpler as I intend to use 3/4 round bench dogs and cheaper. The BC is $165 vs the LN at $70. Is there a substantial difference in performance of these two?

  2. #2
    I don't see much sense in getting either of those cast iron holdfasts when you can get forged steel ones from Gramercy for a fraction of the cost. Seriously, you can get SEVEN Gramercy holdfasts for the price of ONE Crucible.

    And for the same price of the Lie-Nielsen, you can get a much prettier forged steel holdfast from Black Bear Forge. Looks like they're currently sold out of 3/4" holdfasts but the 1" versions are still available.
    Last edited by Joshua Lucas; 07-30-2021 at 2:22 PM.

  3. #3
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    Sadly Harry Strasil Jr is now making holdfasts in the great beyond. His were made with 5/8" rod and work fine in a 3/4" hole.

    Holdfasts w:Stanley #39.jpg

    Here a pair is being used to secure a batten for cutting a dado.

    In my experience with a Sjöberg bench it might be better to have a second row of holes for using holdfasts. Hold fasts can exert a lot of force on the hole where they are used. Dog holes near the edge of a bench may start to split out.

    Harry's holdfasts will work in a 3/4" hole drilled in a piece of 2X used as tops on my saw benches.

    jtk
    Last edited by Jim Koepke; 07-30-2021 at 8:15 PM. Reason: one turned out to be a pair
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
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  4. #4
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    Recently (last 2-3 years) the Gramercy holdfast has been top of the heap in thread after thread here for price/value. In a softwood top I would plan to not use holdfasts in the dog holes.

    On my first (and still only) bench I started with 3/4 holes and holdfasts not Gramercy. I eventually upgraded to a pair of Crucibles and rebored the holes in my top. There are many many pieces of bench top jewelry that won't work on my bench.

    I like having the extra reach, the extra height of the Crucibles, but as my work evolves I need the extra height less and less but have to move the heavier holdfasts around every time.

    If you are doing mostly flat work, rarely dealing with stock thicker than say 6/4 or so on the benchtop, I can't think of a good reason to think about the crucibles until you are stacking all four sides of a drawer to chop all your dovetails at one end in a matter of a few minutes. Someone who routinely uses Gramercys on 8/4 stock may be along shortly with good news, I can't argue with them; but I see a 36" table leg at 4x4 square as something a Gramercy can do, but 12 feet of 8/4 stock ten inches wide is a different beast to hold on to.

    The other thing is reboring 3/4 holes up to 1 inch is a pain, but it isn't that bad. Plugging one inch holes to rebore at 3/4 is a serious pain in the neck. My next bench is at least three years away, but one thing I will look at for my next build is how often I really need the crucibles. I will give serious though to trialing a pair of Gramercy before boring my next bench top.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua Lucas View Post
    I don't see much sense in getting either of those cast iron holdfasts when you can get forged steel ones from Gramercy for a fraction of the cost. Seriously, you can get SEVEN Gramercy holdfasts for the price of ONE Crucible.
    Does Gramercy say their holdfasts are forged? I'm not sure on the technical details of forging, but theirs are made from bending steel rods. Maybe the flattened business end is forged? I'm not trying to discount the product, I'm just not sure they even claim they are forged.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Mills View Post
    Does Gramercy say their holdfasts are forged? I'm not sure on the technical details of forging, but theirs are made from bending steel rods. Maybe the flattened business end is forged? I'm not trying to discount the product, I'm just not sure they even claim they are forged.
    This is what they say:

    We ended up designing a tool ourselves: a modern holdfast, made of modern formed wire, in a modern factory.
    Mine are welded between the rod and the top piece.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  7. #7
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    Gramercys work fine in the softwood bench top (5" thick), saw benches (1 1/2" thick), etc. for me. I had trouble with them bouncing in a few holes in the thick bench top, so I put a few dimples on their shafts with a center punch and now you could easily lift the bench with one once they're set. They lock down on items that are 3-4" high, too with no problem. Unless you're very sure you need more height or reach or you just like the style of something else, Gramercy is a good option in my experience.

  8. #8
    I have 2 black bear forged, 2 gramercy and 2 Crucible. On an 8' bench. I have dedicated holes for the crucibles to hold my Moxon vice and my BC high vise. The Black Bears have a little longer reach than the Gramercy. But other than that, I just grab whatever is close and smack with a lump hammer.

  9. #9
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    Have a couple from Gramercy. They work great.

    edit: 3 1/2” maple bench top with 3/4 holes. Shafts roughed up with 80 grit. YMMV.
    Last edited by Rob Luter; 07-30-2021 at 6:19 PM.
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  10. #10
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    Pronghorn ironworks is on Etsy. The 5/8 (for 3/4 dogs) are exceptionally made, reasonable and hold fast.I have 4. I bought 2 and they were so well made, I bought 2 more. I tried the cast ones and they wouldn’t hold in my bench. There are forged ones available on Etsy for around 30 apiece and will give you a much better experience than cheap cast ones.

  11. #11
    Got 4 of the Grammercy. Love them.
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
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  12. #12
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    I would stick to 3/4” holes and shafts. My hold fasts are both the Gramercy and the Veritas screw downs, and both perform superbly well in my 3 1/2” thick European Oak bench top.

    Here is a video I made of how easy it is to use the Gramercy (recommended viewing for the insomniacs amongst us) …

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OaI_E2Yv1O0&pp=sAQA

    The advantage of a 3/4” hole is that it opens up the door to many choices. I’ve never seen an advantage in a 1” shaft as I am not a reenactor nor have the desire to clamp a tree to my bench.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  13. #13
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    Much obliged to you all for your responses. Gramercy it is…well, now all I have to do is build the bench. More questions to follow

  14. #14
    I started out using the LN holdfasts and they worked quite well. At some point I saw what Christian Becksvoort was using and thought I'd give them a try: Excellent! I pretty much use these now exclusively. Veritas Hold-Down.
    [IMG][/IMG]

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Cohen View Post
    I would stick to 3/4” holes and shafts. My hold fasts are both the Gramercy and the Veritas screw downs, and both perform superbly well in my 3 1/2” thick European Oak bench top.

    Here is a video I made of how easy it is to use the Gramercy (recommended viewing for the insomniacs amongst us) …

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OaI_E2Yv1O0&pp=sAQA

    The advantage of a 3/4” hole is that it opens up the door to many choices. I’ve never seen an advantage in a 1” shaft as I am not a reenactor nor have the desire to clamp a tree to my bench.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    Couldn't agree more.
    Hold downs are usually used in conjunction with a stop of some kind anyway. Why you would need the added size and mass of a 1" thick shaft to simply keep your work from lifting off the bench is elusive to me. Maybe because I'm not an 18th century woodworker.
    Just because something is based on an old design doesn't automatically make it good.
    When something gets to the size where I would need a holdfast with a 1" thick shaft, gravity alone usually takes over.

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