In Tricks of the Trade

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Dip holdfast pad in plastic coating to avoid workpiece damage

I use bench holdfasts because they’re so convenient and provide such a tremendous amount of clamping force. However, in the process, they can mar workpieces, especially softwoods. The traditional solution is to place a protective wood block under the holdfast pad, but this can be a bit of a hassle, and it’s one more maneuver involved in the clamping process.

Instead, I coat the pad of my holdfast with a plastic coating designed to protect handles on wrenches, pliers and other hand tools. Sold at hardware stores under names like “Plasti Dip,” the coating provides the necessary cushion to prevent damage to clamped items. An additional benefit is that it adds a bit of friction to help prevent a workpiece from sliding. To apply the coating, simply dip the pad of the holdfast in the can and let it dry. I have found that two or three coats is enough to do the job. — Jeff Bradley

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