I’ve been working with holdfasts for about two years now, I think. The ones from Gramercy Tools at Tools For Working Wood are what I’ve been using. They do the job just fine. But as it was with my dovetail saw, I’ve reached a point where I’m interested in upgrading; bringing in tools that not only do the job, but increase the good feeling I have as I build furniture and work in the shop.
Turns out that Orion at Horton Brasses Inc., must have been reading my mind – he asked me to try out a new hand-forged holdfast and provide him with feedback. I gladly accepted. When the two bent-up pieces of iron arrived, I was curious. Most of the holdfasts you see are far less shaped, and do not have such a bent neck. I wondered if the hand-forged characteristics of the shaft would actually hold when used. And, these fit a bit loose in my 3/4″-diameter dog holes. Would they work?
I used the Horton holdfasts for the next two weeks just as I would the others. With each use I mentally recorded thoughts and reactions. What I noticed was that these holdfasts – beyond the fact that they held stellar under pressure – seemed easier to set and release. How much easier? I don’t remember ever needing to hit these holdfasts a second time to set or release them. That’s important. That’s why you use these tools.
I was sold that the Horton holdfasts were great with how they worked in my shop, but add in the fact that they are not of a run-of-the-mill design – the head reminds me of a duck head – and you have me asking when they are available so I can let our members and friends know. Yesterday, I received a message from Orion that the holdfasts were added to the Horton Brasses site. Check it out. The company paired two holdfasts with a hand-forged bottle opener as a cool holiday gift pack.