As I’ve mentioned before, I use holdfasts a lot. A few weeks ago, I started wondering about the possibility of wooden holdfasts, and I think I will experiment more with making some from two pieces of wood joined with a round mortise and tenon, as in chairs. Hickory or ash should work very well. Much lighter weight than steel, and maybe less holding power. But maybe plenty strong enough.
I started with a quick experiment using branch junctions, utilizing their natural strength and flexibility. As can be seen in the photo, very little work was done on them — just a bit of rough shaving to bring the shank down to something a bit under 3/4″.
They’ve dried for a couple weeks, and they work! I’d like to make some more, a bit more carefully and with more consideration for the branch angles and so on. It’s a fun and useful green woodworking project. They’d also be ideal for some carved decoration; I can’t help picturing a bird with a long beak, like a heron.
I shot a quick bit of video showing them in action:
As I was patting myself on the back for my inventiveness, I thought I’d do a net search to see if I could find any references to wooden holdfasts. Sure enough, somebody wrote about the idea in Popular Mechanics Magazine back in 1930. Check it out here. Note that S.E. MacNair suggests using a much larger diameter branch and hole (1 1/2″). They work in the 3/4″ holes of my bench as well.