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Holdfast and Ryoba.JPG
Synonyms: "holddowns"; DE: "Werkstückniederhalter
für runde Löcher"
Type: work holding
Material: usually wooden workpieces
Used with: mallet, compatible workbench
Location: Lukas' workbench
Access Requirements: ask Lukas
Similar (More or Less): clamps, vises

Holdfasts are solid pieces of round steel with a tip that is shaped for work holding. A holdfast looks like a "7": the short end lies on your workpiece and the long end is inserted into a matching hole in the workbench.

These traditional tools date back before vises became common, but they are still interesting for hand tool woodworking!


By smacking it with a mallet, a holdfast is wedged into the hole (hit from above) or released (hit from "behind").

Holes need to go all the way through the workbench (top or leg shouldn't matter) so various thicknesses of workpieces can be held and are best drilled with a suitable auger bit

To be tested: what if the holdfast does not reach the other side of the bench, does it need to stick out?

Gramercy Tools Holdfasts

Lukas has two holdfasts (forged by Gramercy Tools):

  • for 3/4" holes (approx. 19 mm)
  • minimum bench thickness: 45 mm (not verified)
  • maximum bench thickness: ?
  • holding capacity (height): 240 mm minus bench thickness (not verified)
  • prone to leaving marks on the held piece - should be padded with pieces of leather!