Tag Archives: grammercy tools

Planing Stop In Use

Handmade Planing Stop Is An Easy And Very Useful Bench Accessory

I’ve been handplaning a lot more lately. I’m not really a fan of sanding because of the dust, and a well-tuned handplane leaves a very nice surface that takes finish nicely and doesn’t need sanding. Handplaning with with your workpiece against a single bench dog can be frustrating as the work skateboards around the bench. I recently added some Grammercy Holdfasts to my bench and now it was time for another quick but useful upgrade.

It was 10pm though, and I wasn’t going to wake the wife or the kiddo. I’m a hybrid woodworker, but this was going to be done all by hand in the silence of night. Since this project was inspired by Bob Rozaieski’s Split Top Bench it made sense to build this with only hand tools. Note: a cordless drill and cordless driver count as hand tools tonight.

I pulled an 8′ piece of pine from the pile, finding a piece that was straight and flat. This was quickly crosscut to 4′ in length with the restored crosscut handsaw I purchased from Bad Axe Toolworks at Woodworking in America. I was again astounded at how fast and clean the cut was made by hand, and how square I made the cut without marking a line or using proper work holding. I think this saw just knows how to do the work.

The design of this planing stop is essentially a long bench hook that goes lengthwise with your bench, instead of across. I planed two scraps to a thickness of just about 1/2″. These would be used to make the battens for the hook and the stop. They were cut to length after marking a square line. Again I was happy with how quick and accurate these cuts were.

Planing Stop Hook

Planing Stop Hook

The hook is sized to fit into the L vise at the end of my bench. It will hold this planing stop securely and is the same thickness as the stop on the topside. This doesn’t need to be the same size as the hook on the topside, it could but that’s how it worked out for this build.

Planing Stop Hook in Bench Vise

Planing Stop Hook in Bench Vise

I then needed a long strip to go lengthwise along the backside of the planing stop. This creates a long L shape to hold the workpiece while planing. A nice piece of Walnut in the scrap pile was long, straight, and just the right thickness so it was quickly fastened down with my Milwaukee M12 cordless drill.

The planing stop was now done, and taken for a test drive. The work is held securely and doesn’t move on the push stroke or return stroke. The size of this hook will be fine for at least 80% of the handplaning in my shop, and for pieces that don’t fit I can return to old habits.

Planing Stop In Use

Planing Stop In Use

I used countersunk brass screws for construction. Screws are reversible if I need to make a modification, and countersinking made the screws less likely to get clipped by a plane blade. Corners and most sharp edges were eased with a block plane.

Along with holdfasts and a bench hook, I recommend that you make a planing stop for your bench.

Woodworking Holdfasts Are Like a Third Hand and Quicker Than Clamps

Over ten years ago I treated myself by purchasing a wonderful nine-foot Sjoberg’s Workbench from Woodcraft. I ordered plenty of square bench dogs and four boxes of drawers for the base. I love my bench – it’s heavy, flat, has relatively good vises, and tons of storage. I didn’t order the holdfasts when I bought the bench, because I thought I’d never use them. I was always able to clamp work to my benchtop, and I thought that was just fine.

As I prepared for the Hand Tool Olympics at Woodworking in America, I realized that clamping pieces was clumsy, slow, and frustrating. Not to mention all the times I stuck myself with the tail end of a bar clamp. I started to look around for holdfasts made for my Sjoberg’s bench, but didn’t really have any luck. There’s also only one pre-drilled (and steel lined) hole in my bench and having just one place for the hold down is pretty limiting. So after reading great reviews about the Grammercy Holdfasts and talking to other woodworkers, I added a pair to my WIA wish list.

On the Expo Floor at Woodworking in America I was able to work with holdfasts for the first time. I don’t know how I ever worked without these, and I was excited to order a pair. Unfortunately you couldn’t order them at the show, so I ordered them from my hotel room on the Tools for Working Wood website that night. A pair was about $30, which is about the cost of a good clamp.

Round Peg, Square Hole

My Sjoberg’s bench has square bench dog holes pre-drilled at regular intervals. These are awesome, but won’t work for holdfasts, so I needed to (gasp) drill more holes in my benchtop. I chose a position about five inches from the front of the bench, a little to the right of the face vise where I’d be sawing dovetails, and marked a spot. The challenge now would be to bore a 3/4” hole through the four inch benchtop cleanly and squarely. Luckily, I have a great set of Jennings bits handed down from my family, and a nice (and now clean and lubricated) Stanley bit brace I picked up from The Superior Tools Works on the show floor at WIA. The trick now is to bore the hole squarely. The series of pictures below describes my process.

Roughing up the Stems

First, the holdfasts need cleaning and roughing up. I wiped the holdfasts with mineral spirits to remove grease and grime, and then roughed them up as recommended so they’d hold better in the bench. Sand around the stem with some sandpaper, not up and down, I want to create rings on the stem.

Upper Cut Woodworks Grammercy Tools Holdfasts Cleaned and Ridged

Boring Straight Holes By Hand With a Drill Block

To ensure the hole I bored was plumb, I first used my drill press and a 3/4” forstner bit to drill a hole in a thick block of scrap fir. This block would guide my Jennings bit.

Upper Cut Woodworks Holdfast Drill Block Prepared on Drill Press

I placed the bit through the hole in the guide block, and set the point of the bit on the “X Marks the Spot” on the bench. I clamped the guide block down to the bench, and I clamped it down good. I’d be doing the twist through a lot of wood and will want that guide block to stay put.

Upper Cut Woodworks Bit Brace in Drill Block Clamped to Bench

When I bottomed out on the guide block I removed it. The hole I’d bored so far will guide the bit the rest of the way.

Upper Cut Woodworks Bit Brace in Hole in Bench

Hole Complete and Holdfast Tested

And now I have a shiny new hole in my bench that fits my new Grammercy Holdfast perfectly. You can see the giant holdfast hole that came with this bench to the left.


The test is snug and the bored is secured very well. But there’s one more thing I forgot.

Upper Cut Woodworks Grammercy Holdfast Fits in Bench Perfectly

All the Cool Holdfasts are Wearing Leather

To reduce the amount of damage the holdfast will do to my pieces, I glued a piece of suede on the face of each. Here’s how I did that.

First, I gathered my supplies. Scrap suede and some Gorilla Glue clear. This isn’t the PVA wood glue they were exchanging at WIA, this is their clear glue that says it bonds metal, wood, and other materials.

Upper Cut Woodworks Suede and Gorilla Glue for Grammercy Holdfasts

I roughed up the face of the holdfast and applied the glue. I wetted the suede and applied it to the face, and then using a spring clamp and a scrap block I clamped these for about an hour. In the picture below, you can see the Gorilla Glue foaming out around the face of the holdfast.

Upper Cut Woodworks Suede Gorilla Glued and Clamped to Holdfasts

After the glue was dry and I removed the clamp, I trimmed the excess suede and hardened glue foam away from the face with an X-Acto knife.

Upper Cut Woodworks Suede Trimmed on Holdfasts After Gorilla Glue Dries

Holdfasts Are A Welcome Addition, Economical Addition to the Shop

I’ve only had these holdfasts installed for a week. I am really happy with how easy they are to install, how quickly I’ve adapted to them, and how well they work. Because they don’t get in the way like clamps, and are so fast to use with just a whack of a mallet, I find myself holding my work more. This decreases my frustration and increases my precision. I don’t know how I worked without holdfasts before, and why I didn’t buy these sooner. At $31.95 for a pair, these are cheaper and easier to use than other holdfasts, and much cheaper than the Veritas holdfast which is currently priced at $78.50. For more information on holdfasts, you might find this article at Popular Woodworking interesting.