It has taken us months to get our new range of hold down clamps looking perfect. Both Jonathan and myself do enjoy a bit of blacksmithing and these have been a whole load of fun to make. Making them was not the issue, we sussed that out on the first day…however, getting them looking good enough to sell to the public, and nice and uniform in shape, well, that did take many, many hours! Typically, we did not made things too easy for ourselves as we liked the challenge of making them all, individually, by hand, all the way through every process and operation. Jonathan is now a dab hand at getting the bends just right and I know more about Parkerizing, cold blueing and hot salt blueing than I ever thought I’d need.
We experimented with quite a few different shapes, and found that little tweeks make a lot of difference. What we wanted was a graceful, swan’s neck shape and to start with we had buckets of ugly ducklings. Ces’t la vie! Nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that. I’ve been forbidden to post any photos of how we go about this as it looks too primitive to work. All I can say is that it did involve a calor gas bottle cut in half, a lot of heavy lifting chain and lead weights and one crazy metal squashing contraption held to the floor with a pallet load of 6inch solid concrete blocks…(maybe I should not mention the near death experience when it all went wrong and lumps of lead got catapulted across the workshop…) The very fact that it does work has given us both an excitement that say, a mad inventor may feel when a crazy contraption actually works. (said with a grin!) Anyway, we are both chuffed to bits that we’ve cracked it!
All credit to Dave Brown who looked at the first attempts and said “The shape is fantastic, but seriously, you need to get that finish sorted out!” So, point was taken, as the forge had left a scaly and somewhat rusty finish! However, a jolly good sandblasting and a bit of nice metal blacking treatment (anti corrosion) soon got the first few through quality control (Thanks Dave!).
We use a process that has it’s origins in the armaments industry, aka ‘gun blueing’ and the anti corrosion layer is just permeable enough to hold an invisible film of oil, which really helps.
We had these beauties on display, and in use, good and proper at the Woodfest Wales Show and the interest shown by the public was quite exhilarating! (Having spent so many hours in the workshop, at the forge getting them spot on!)
So there, you have it, something else to go with our new line of workbenches. We should have these up for sale on our website by next week. They are easy to fit – You just drill a 16mm hole wherever you like in your bench top (a regular pattern of holes works well), and then you simply ream out the hole to 16.5mm with a reduced shank blacksmith’s drill. The extra 0.5mm of clearance allows the hold downs to slip in and out easily, but there’s not too much slop so they jam instantly, which is exactly what you want!
STOP PRESS: Just managed to get them listed on eBay – search for ‘Woodworking Hold Fast’ Only in the UK – Sorry folks!
It has taken us months to get our new range of hold down clamps looking perfect. Both Jonathan and myself do enjoy a bit of blacksmithing and these have been a whole load of fun to make. Making them was not the issue, we sussed that out on the first day…however, getting them looking good… Read more »