Holdfasts holds the work piece when you work on your project. But what hold the holdfast? Lets make a holdfast holder to hold the holdfasts organised. Do I still hold your attention?
IN THE BEGINNING… well. In the beginning of the shop’s history, shortly after we bought the house, I got hold (yes, I am running with it!) of some really nice wood. Some Burma teak legally* imported decades ago, some cherry, oak, merbau and a few other bits and pieces. I haven’t worked with teak before, so I thought it was time to do a small test. I had a rather small piece I though would be nice for a holdfast holder. So let us make an expensive chunk of shop infrastructure! It is kind of a requirement, if my meagre shop should ever measure up against some of the Youtubers out there… Nicer shop furniture than in the living room, it seems? But then again – nobody has nicer looking fire wood than us woodworkers!
*Teak from Burma (Myanmar) is a controversial subject due to political and environmental issues. Import has been prohibited for a long time due to sanctions against Myanmar.
I started by measuring out the placement of the holes. 20mm in from the edges, 20mm apart. I used a 19mm forstner bit to drill the holes. A drill press would’ve been nice here, but thankfully forstner bits makes it easy to drill pretty straight. It helps to have used a drill before, too.
I then cut a block from the plank. The remaining half might be used as a stop block underneath, on which the holdfasts will rest. I don’t want them to fully seat in the holes; it should be easy to just yank them up when ever I need them. I might also just mount the thing vertically and store the holdfasts in a horizontal position. The point is: they need to be very easy to grab when I need them on the bench. Just reach and grab one. Probably while doing my perfect la seconde en l’air en face with some delicate glue up going on…
I drilled holes for screws, then countersunk them.
The No. 80 cabinet scraper makes short work on surface finishing – perfectly smooth in a few strokes.
then I thought – fancy wood, fancy tools (two of my hold fasts are hand made here in Norway. That is special to me!). Why not fancy shape?
So – because I can:
I used a compass to trace 20mm outside the holes. A few cuts on the band saw, some rasp strokes and file strokes. A bit of sanding. Done. Just to make it look fancy and interesting. I did not spend time making everything perfect – the holdfasts are rustic and uneven, so the holder should reflect that. No french polish on this thingamabob.
I finished the holder with some walnut oil. Yes, yes – i know! Teak oil should be used! That’s usually just mostly tung or linseed oil, though. Sometimes with varnish and turps as additives. The teak oil I know from my childhood smells a lot – we had a teak kitchen counter top which my father oiled every year. I can still imagine that smell. Smells like Christmas…
Anyway – I like walnut oil a lot. The smell reminds me of wood shop back in school. The wood shop in junior high had a distinct smell to it. Ah – childhood memories! We actually had a metal lathe in that shop. Nobody ever used it when I attended. A relic from days gone by, never to return; today, machinists know how to put a file in a CNC, load the raw material then the computers take over. At one time, boys got to make something on a metal lathe (God forbid if a woman should go near that thing! Off to the sowing kits! How stupid it seems today…)
If The Postman ever happens, we hand tool users are going to be kings! Just make sure to smoke any copy machine salesperson! But I digress…
I applied walnut oil to the holder and let it soak for a while. I then wiped off the excess and laid it on some sticks to “cure”.
The oil really popped the grain on this gorgeous teak. It’ll look good loaded with some oil blackened forged steel rods!
After letting the oil dry for a day, I mounted the holdfast holder to the wall directly opposite the vise. I decided to just have the holdfasts horizontal for now to keep it simple. If I decide to change that later, I’ll add a support block on which the shanks can rest so that the holdfasts won’t be fully seated in the holes.
The image on the right makes the holdfasts look like they are giving directions…
This certainly is a rather luxurious way to make a simple holder for some tools due to the rather exclusive piece of wood. I could’ve of course made one from pine, and it would work just as well. In cases like this, a quote from a TV series about the Apollo program, “From the earth to the moon”, resounds in my mind. In a scene about the planning of the Apollo 17 landing site, the scientists had debated where to land in a meeting lasting almost the entire work day. They were getting absolutely nowhere, and the leader then turned to one of the astronauts and asked what he thought (I think it was Cernan) – as he had not said a word all day. He responded by addressing some of the arguments, but put the debate to rest when he said, and I am paraphrasing here: “Taurus–Littow has something else. Grandeur. And there is something to be said about the exploration of beautiful places”.
There is something to be said about nice surroundings. Even in the shop, that argument holds…