One of the issues that you are sure to run into as you tread down the path of a woodworker is how to hold your workpiece safe and secure while you attack it with your woodwork tools. Clamps are typically not something that jumps to mind when most people think about woodwork tools, and yet best bar clamps for woodworking is required almost every time you pick up a chisel, a woodworking plane or a saw. There are a ton of different clamping devices available, many of which are quite common-place that we are all quite familiar with.
Recently, however, I stumbled across a clamping device that I hadn’t seen before, so I thought I would mention it here, as it seems like such a handy device which is very quick and easy to use.
The “hold down clamp” (also called a “holdfast” or “Hold downs”) is a very simple looking device, and yet is surprisingly effective. The hold down clamp is basically a piece of metal, with a straight stem, and a curved “foot”. The stem provides the holding power on the bench, and the “foot” pushes down on your workpiece, holding it in place. In order to use the hold down clamp, you will need to pre-drill some holes in your bench top – the hole should match the diameter of the stem of the hold down clamp very closely, so that it is a snug fit.
Once the holes are drilled, it is a very simple matter to use the hold down clamp. Simply place the stem into the hole in the bench top, place the curved “foot” of the hold down clamp onto the top of your workpiece (make sure you protect your workpiece by placing a piece of scrap timber between the workpiece and the foot of the hold down clamp). Once the hold down clamp is positioned correctly, take your mallet, and give it a couple of solid taps on the top. This will apply pressure to your workpiece, holding it to the bench, and the friction between the stem of the hold down clamp and the hole it is sitting in will ensure it doesn’t move.
To loosen the hold down clamp, simply tap it with your mallet again, but this time on the side of the stem. This will free the stem from the hole, and the workpiece will be released.
Hold down clamps are generally most effective when used in pairs, and they do come in different sizes.
So if you’ve ever found yourself battling with clamps to hold down your work piece, pick yourself up a pair of hold down clamps – it will transform the way you work!
There are several other types of hold down clamp available, but none seem as simple as this tried and tested method.