Now they are good looking Hold Downs!

I use these in pairs for holding wider boards in place.

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.

Getting the bends right is the most important first step. It was trial and error before we sussed it!

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!

Every Hold Down has a maker's mark stamped on, which I guarantee you, no one else will copy!


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!


They're just over a foot long and about 7inches across at the top. You can just about get the padlock off a fridge with one of these in times of desperation.

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 »

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Beautiful, Solid, Traditional Workbenches!

It is with great pleasure that we can announce the availability of a range of workbenches, hand made from solid, slow grown, wonderful smelling pine and coated in Treatex Hard Wax Oil. The design is very similar to that which was given in the Working Wood 1, as a ‘build yourself a workbench project’, but… Read more »

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Woodfest Wales – Great Woodworking Show!

Woodfest Wales this year was a great success for the organisers and thankfully, apart from a bit of murkiness on Friday, it was good weather with loads of sunshine over the weekend. From chainsaw carving, pole climbing and axe cutting championships, to stunt bike riding, bowl turning and loads of stalls, there was loads to… Read more »

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Make a new plane iron.

Making a new plane iron is not as tricky as you may think. My all time steel of choice is O1. The reasons I really like to work with O1 tool steel:

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2 inch wide steel will give you two narrow irons or a wide one for a No.4 bench plane.

A couple of Dovetail Box Tips

There are lots of ways to clean up and level protruding tails and pins when your making dovetailed boxes. This is a method that’s quick and easy and I use all the time. Firstly, take a sharp chisel and pare the nubs towards the edge, but only go half way across or you’ll break out… Read more »

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Use the chisel bevel down and pare upwards half way across.

Part 5: Toolbox Project – Haunches and mortises

When making cabinet doors, folks often wander if it’s better to cut the mortises or tenons first. Well the truth is, it really does not matter so long as you don’t make the common mistake of cutting the mortice oversize through forgetting about the groove. A guaranteed way to avoid this is simply to cut… Read more »

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For each set, clamp the stiles together and set out the rails and mid stile as they will be when assembled.

Part 4: Toolbox Build – Tenons for the frame and panel work.

  With your dovetailed box done, it’s time to start the frame and panel work. I’ve chosen a very simple design to make this a nice easy introduction for the woodworking club members. A single groove is plowed right down the middle of the stock, with no chamfers or moldings to complicate things. This groove… Read more »

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Grooving is the place to start!

Part 3: Toolbox Build – The Next Step

With your box dovetailed together, glued up and ready, the next step is to prepare the materials for the two identical paneled frames, one for each side of the tool box. The back frame is fixed and the front will be removable. The materials you’ll need for the frame are all pieces of 3×1 planed… Read more »

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The frame is absolutely rigid even before glue up!

Mill your own lumber (US) or saw up your own trees (UK)

Even if you haven’t got a Wood Mizer style bandsaw, you can still mill, air dry and use your own lumber. What you will need however is a decent chainsaw, access to a reasonably powerful surface planer and a small to medium sized bandsaw.

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This log was just on this limit of my what would fit onto the table.