Way back in 2005, I wrote an article for issue #4 of Woodworking Magazine about holdfasts. At the time, very few woodworkers knew what a holdfast was, and the article reviewed available manufactured holdfasts, as well as a few blacksmith made ones. We recently put the original holdfast article online, and included a link to the article in our weekly newsletter for the first week of July.
One of the devices we tested in 2005 was a prototype of a hand forged holdfast made by Gramercy tools and provided by Tools For Working Wood. That version never went into production, and a couple of months after we went to press, Gramercy released an entirely different holdfast.
The production version was a huge improvement, works incredibly well for a reasonable price and holds like crazy, even in thick bench tops. The one in the picture at right is the one I have been using for the last seven years. I customized it by gluing a scrap of leather to the pad, and it has faithfully held my work nearly every time I’ve been in the shop. I have smacked it thousands of times and it has never let me down.
Had this been available at the time the original article was written, the article would have been quite different. This tool performs as well as blacksmith made holdfasts, better than any other manufactured holdfast, and the price makes it a real value.
We reviewed this version of the Gramercy holdfast in print in the December 2005 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine. Here is what then editor Christopher Schwarz had to say:
Holdfasts that Really Work
Holdfasts are something of an obsession of mine. They’re an almost-vanished tool that does an amazing job of quickly securing your work with just a mallet tap. Sadly, the only ones that really work these days are those made by blacksmiths. All the manufactured ones we’ve tested are poor substitutes.
Until now. The masterminds at Tools for Working Wood have patented a process for making a holdfast that works extraordinarily well for an equally extraordinary price: about $30 for a pair. We were allowed to test a preproduction version of this tool and were very impressed when we compared it to the other dozen or so variants in our shop. This new one from Tools for Working Wood – sold under its Gramercy Tools line – has a bit of a high-tech look, but it works as well (and sometimes better) than the old-school versions.
It works well in thick benchtops (which is always a challenge) and in holes 3⁄4″ and 11⁄16″ in diameter. Buy a pair. It will change your workholding for the better – instantly.
— Christopher Schwarz
Fast forward seven years and you will find Gramercy holdfasts on our benches here at the magazine shop and our benches at home. These are great tools, and an excellent value. We apologize for any confusion brought about by our reuse of an older article online.