Holdfasts Grow On Trees

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Forum topic by OleGrump posted 06-27-2019 08:04 PM 542 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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581 posts in 1561 days

06-27-2019 08:04 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

2 replies so far

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8658 posts in 1791 days

#1 posted 07-05-2019 03:42 AM

Holdfast = gizmo to hold the work fast to the bench top so you can do work on it.

If a branch works, use it.

-- Think safe, be safe

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581 posts in 1561 days

#2 posted 07-06-2019 02:10 PM

I do have a pair of iron holdfasts that I bought in Williamsburg, VA in 1993. (and paid accordingly, but hand forged from Williamsburg, so I went with it) As expected, they work beautifully. The tree fork notion intrigued me, so the experiments proceeded with surprisingly results. These will never replace the Williamsburg holdfasts in their tenacity, of course. Nice back up in a pinch, and great from those who work with green wood.
“If a man does a task in the forest and there is no woman present to tell him so, is he still wrong…..?”

-- OleGrump

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