Christopher Schwarz made a terrific presentation at Woodworking in America in November: Forgotten Workbenches and Workholding.
During his presentation Chris covered workholding (it will appear in the videos for Parts 2 and 3 on this blog). As a result of this presentation, I started doing some serious thinking about my European style workbench, and how I could improve clamping of work pieces when hand cutting dovetails, clamping jigs in place, etc.
The existing setup was slow and cumbersome:
One option was to use holdfasts; but this meant drilling holes through the 3-1/2-inch thick bench top. And during The Schwarz’s presentation, a little light went on in my brain. I remembered Leigh Industries had announced a new product not long before the conference in Berea: Their hold-down clamps, available in two models. The capacity of the clamps is 3 inches, good for most work we normally do at the bench.
You can read a terrific review of these clamps by Dean Bielanowski, at OnlineToolReviews.com. I am not writing this to do another review; but rather, to share some uses I quickly found for these new clamps since I received them, 20 hours ago. In my opinion, these clamps solve many workholding problems at the workbench; they are terrific! Well, I did manage to include a quick review.
The two versions of the hold-down clamps:
Bench mount: This version allows use of existing bench dog holes and, therefore, would allow use close to the front edge of the bench. The bench mount is a quick, easy way to hold down even small work pieces:
A huge plus: The bench mount version is also used on the drill press! I have not tried it, but will dedicate one as soon as another clamp arrives.
Surface mount: The surface hold-down clamp provides another way of cutting dovetails at the bench:
Sometimes, clamping jigs can be cumbersome; it depends on the style of the workbench. My European-style bench, with the bank of cabinets below the stretcher under the top slab, created a challenge to use clamps. But holding down the FMT is no longer a challenge:
1. On the left side, the bench clamp:
2. And on the right, the surface mount clamp:
3. The FMT with both sides clamped – easy:
I now envision installing several anchors, to hold surface mount clamps along the front face of the bench. Think crochet (pronounced crow-shay) the easy way; but now you can have one crochet on the left, and one on the right-hand side. Great for edge-jointing, and a terrific way to hold a board on edge on the front face of the bench, in addition to using the face vise. I invite you to read several references to the crochet and its use in workbenches at the Woodworking Magazine blog.
I will not sell my D4: I have been asked several times if I want to sell my Leigh D4 dovetail jig, since I am improving my skill at hand-cutting dovetails. My reply is still that I cannot, and will not sell the D4; it is my workhorse when I make multiple drawers and large dovetails carcases. I am reserving hand-cutting dovetails for very small drawers, impossible to cut with the D4.
What other uses can I find for these new clamps? I will share as I find them. In the meantime, I would love to learn how you are using them.