Gramercy Holdfasts-the Real Story

Gramercy HoldfastWay 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.

–Robert W. Lang

6 thoughts on “Gramercy Holdfasts-the Real Story

  1. Jeff_in_KCMO

    I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been using a set for the past few years, and they are awesome. Drop one in a hole, give is a solid whack or two, and your part is stuck. Need to take the holdfast out? No problem, a solid whack on the back and it is loose. I’ve had quite a few friends and family watch me use them and they are always amazed.

    Seriously, one of the most handy tools in my shop.

    Thank you, Gramercy, for these.

    Jeff

  2. vtxmanmike

    So when I build my workbench, is there a minimum thickness that Holdfasts need in order to work? I saw your comment about thick workbenches, but what is “thick” and what is too thin?
    Thanks, Michael

  3. steveh

    Thanks for the reminder. Two weeks ago I wacked on one of those case iron blue hold downs and it neatly broke off just below the hold down leg. I’ve been meaning to get the Gramercy versions for years. I finally did and they really exceeded my expectations.

    For the price they are a bargain.

    –Steve.

    1. Robert W. Lang Post author

      I used Gorilla Glue. I put a scrap of leather on the bench, a few drops of glue and then dropped the metal end of the holdfast on top. Tapped the holdfast a few times to seat it. After letting the glue dry overnight I trimmed around the edge with a knife. Someone will probably come along and tell you to rough up the metal with sandpaper first.

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