Gramercy Holdfast

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Review by TheGravedigger posted 11-29-2010 01:06 AM 11195 views 1 time favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Gramercy Holdfast No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

This article was originally posted on the Little Good Pieces blog on September 25, 2010.

This one definitely comes under the heading of “why didn’t I do this sooner?”. Let me say up front that this recommendation is completely unsolicited and uncompensated.

I had read for years about the usefulness of holdfasts, Everyone from St. Roy to Christopher Schwarz had sung their praises, but somehow I never got around to them. Most of the ones I saw were the old cast ones, and they just didn’t look quite right. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but they didn’t look like they would work as advertised.

Then, one day, I stumbled onto the ones made and sold by by Tools for Working Wood. These holdfasts, made from heavy wire, LOOKED like they would truly work. I put a pair on my wish list and settled down to patiently wait.

Finally, two weeks ago, I gave up on ever getting them as a gift and just ordered a pair. I was amazed. They locked with a tap and released just as easily. Gone were the days of using F-clamps to hold boards down on the bench. It was a revelation. My only modification was to add leather pads for cushioning. The one problem that I’ve noted is that the holding power decreases somewhat as the head is extended further out of the hole, as when holding thicker stock. When hand mortising the edge of a board, for example, the holdfasts tend to work loose as the piece is manipulated. Using two holdfasts helps with this, but keep your mallet handy for a quick cinch-down. Hey, it’s STILL faster than F-clamps!

If you aren’t already using holdfasts, I can’t recommend them highly enough. They’ve become my holding method of choice if I don’t need access to the entire top of the board (planing, etc), and have made mortising and dovetailing more efficient. Give ‘em a try!

-- Robert - Visit my woodworking blog:

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13 comments so far

View PeteMoss's profile


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#1 posted 11-29-2010 02:49 AM

I’ve always wondered. Thanks.

-- "Never measure......cut as many times as necessary." - PeteMoss

View DrewM's profile


176 posts in 3848 days

#2 posted 11-29-2010 04:47 AM

Thanks for the review, I guess I need get around to drilling dog holes in my bench and get some holdfasts.

-- Drew, Delaware

View ND2ELK's profile


13494 posts in 4623 days

#3 posted 11-29-2010 06:49 PM

Thanks for the info. Might have to hurry up and put these on my stocking stuffer list.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View Hawkins's profile


5 posts in 4676 days

#4 posted 11-30-2010 01:25 AM

I had some cast ones, they didn’t hold very well, and one of them broke when I set it. The Gramercy ones are amazing!

View b2rtch's profile


4920 posts in 3897 days

#5 posted 11-30-2010 07:01 PM

I was raised with hold fasts.
I had my local blacksmith made me three of them for $10.00 each and they work perfectly.

-- Bert

View TheDane's profile


5847 posts in 4512 days

#6 posted 11-30-2010 10:56 PM

Good review … convinced me I should make the leap, so I just ordered a pair!


-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View b2rtch's profile


4920 posts in 3897 days

#7 posted 11-30-2010 11:06 PM

“There are also the ones from Harbor Freight for something like a buck each. I bought four, they work perfectly in 3/4 bench holes and I have yet to break one. For the life of me I cannot find them on their site under “hold fast.””

At first I had a very good experience with them but then I broke each one of them because they are made of cast iron.

Gerry, the hold fast I had made were working so-so at first ( they were holding OK but they were difficult to get loose and to remove) but then I enlarged my 3/4 holes in the bench to 15/16”, they now work much better;they hold better and they are much easier to remove.

-- Bert

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5847 posts in 4512 days

#8 posted 11-30-2010 11:16 PM

Bert—Thanks for the feedback. I had thought about ordering the HF versions myself (glad I didn’t based on your experience), but the shipping cost on them dampened my enthusiasm (no local HF store).


-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View b2rtch's profile


4920 posts in 3897 days

#9 posted 11-30-2010 11:44 PM

“no local HF store”
Lucky you.
I am addicted to HF

-- Bert

View b2rtch's profile


4920 posts in 3897 days

#10 posted 12-01-2010 12:00 AM

“15/16” ” be careful about this dimension, in fact I think that it is 13/16” ,one size bigger than 3/4”.
Sorry for the mistake.

-- Bert

View BigEd's profile


45 posts in 4286 days

#11 posted 12-03-2010 03:28 AM

I just got a pair of the gramercy holdfasts myself. I too don’t know how I got along without them. They work well and are made in the USA.

-- BigEd, sawdust maker in Ohio

View Neightdogg's profile


48 posts in 3873 days

#12 posted 12-03-2010 06:51 PM

Seems like a real frustration saver

-- Nathan

View Tim29's profile


307 posts in 3999 days

#13 posted 12-26-2010 09:48 AM

I have a pair of Jorgenson hold fasts that I love. I would like to have a pair of these simply because they look so neat.

-- Tim, Nevada MO

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