Holdfasts Grow On Trees

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Forum topic by OleGrump posted 06-27-2019 08:01 PM 258 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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361 posts in 792 days

06-27-2019 08:01 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tip humor

Saw a video of a wood carver who was using forked tree branches as holdfasts on his workbench. Well, this idea was crazy enough to pique my curiosity, so I went out in the back yard with a handsaw holdfast huntin’. What the hell, I’ve already made some bench dogs from branches by sizing the shank with a tenon cutter, so why not?
There is a silver maple all the way in the back which often has some branches down from the wind whipping across the farm back there. Sure enough, there were two branches with suitably sized forks to be candidates for holdfasts. I cut these off longer than what I would need, knowing I would size them better once back in the garage.
Choosing the branch closest to the 3/4” dog holes, I whittled it down until it fit. Then I roughly marked the angle on other branch where it would engage the workpiece and cut that off at the mark. I left a couple of inches of “head” on it for striking with a mallet, and stripped off any remaining bark.
Dog goned if they didn’t work pretty well! These were dry branches picked up off the ground, now we’ll try another experiment. Cut two likely candidates off of a mulberry tree out back, and removed the small branches and leaves from them. Cut and stripped them like I did the maple. These worked quite well too.
Ok, now these tree forks are never gonna have the gripping power of a metal holdfast, but it was surprising how well they actually DO hold stock while you work on it. The wood on wood contact won’t mar your workpiece, either. The price was right and they really work. Well worth the time using a pocket knife and a coping saw to shape them. So you see, good holdfasts really DO “grow on trees”, and they’re out there, just waitin’ to be picked.

-- OleGrump

3 replies so far

View Lazyman's profile


3661 posts in 1835 days

#1 posted 07-19-2019 03:11 PM

So I had to google tree branch holdfasts. Is this the video you saw? Interesting idea. Might have to give it a try.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Ocelot's profile


2301 posts in 3085 days

#2 posted 07-19-2019 07:07 PM


Now that’s woodworking!


View OleGrump's profile


361 posts in 792 days

#3 posted 07-20-2019 03:17 PM

Yep, That’s the video I saw which caused me to experiment. I used mine just yesterday while boring a 3/4” hole in a 2X6. It’s surprising how well these things work. OK, they’re not quite as “tenacious” as my iron holdfasts, but they do a damned good job. And it’s a good alternative if you don’t have metal holdfasts, or are working somewhere that you don’t want to take your metal ones, (in case they get “lost”) you can knock these out in a couple of minutes. As stated they “grow on trees”, quite literally. Cheap, easy and they work!
Among other things, I can see where folks who work with green wood, like some chairmakers and the like, would get a lot of use out of them. Make a pair and wait for your friends to ask why you’ve a couple of sticks at your workbench. then you can “educate” them…. LOL

-- OleGrump

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