Crucible Holdfast FAQ

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During the last 20 years, most woodworkers have adopted 3/4″ as the standard size for holdfasts, bench dogs and other workbench accessories. So why the heck are we making holdfasts at Crucible Tool that have a 1″ shaft?

Simply put: The larger holdfast has more mass, it doesn’t ream out your bench’s holes as fast and we think it just works better.

During the last couple weeks, I’ve written a series of blog entries on the Crucible Tool website that explain our reasoning. Despite this, we continue to get a lot of questions, and so I’ve consolidated all the answers here.

(Side note: We are working on offering a way for you to subscribe to the Crucible Tool blog so you can get updates via email. In the meantime, if you use an RSS reader, you can subscribe to it via this feedburner link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/Crucibletool-CrucibleNews.)

Q: Why did you choose 1″ instead of 3/4″?

A: We do have a good answer. Really. It’s here.

Q: OK, so if I do switch over to 1”, how do I enlarge the 3/4″ holes on my bench?

A: There are many ways to do it. Here is a quick and inexpensive way.

Q: Hmmm. So I use my dog holes for holdfasts sometimes. So I would need to switch to 1″ dogs. That sounds expensive.

A: It’s really not. Here’s how to make an entire set of 1″ dogs for about $11. Wooden dogs are gentler on your tools.

Q: I’m building a new workbench, where should I locate my holdfast holes?

A: We have a map of what we prefer here.

Q: So why does your holdfast fit so tightly in the hole? Other brands just drop in?

A: There is a very good reason for that. Here’s why. And here’s some more.

Q: How do you make your holdfasts? And where?

A: They are ductile iron and made at the Erhart Foundry. You can read all about it here.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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13 Responses to Crucible Holdfast FAQ

  1. admiralbumblebee says:

    Maybe Crucible’s next tool should be a 1″ to 3/4″ dog hole adapter 😉 The controversy demands it!

  2. Not to be too down on the issue but this might be a hard sale for many, many woodworkers who already have a variety 3/4″ bench accessories that compliment 3/4″ hold fasts. Best of luck to you guys, really.

  3. holtdoa says:

    I wonder how well a tapered dog would work? Wouldn’t help if you couldn’t have the dog proud of the work piece in a 3/4″ hole (1″ could work like normal).. Or you could let this be the deciding factor in a square versus round dog hole decision. Dog holes are square and whatever size, hold fast holes are 1″ and round.

  4. paulobro says:

    “I knew that making a 1” holdfast was going to be an uphill battle against public opinion. But this is the holdfast I wanted for my workbench. It’s what I use every day. It never fails me.

    So even if we don’t sell a single one, I’ll be happy because I have what I need for my work.”
    (Mr. Christopher Schwarz on Sep 21 at the Crucible Blog)

    Not a very customer-centric proposal, is it?

    • I’m not sure what you mean here, except to give me some degree of crap.

      We wanted to make something that works better that what we have been using at the bench. The No. 1 complaint that I hear from users of holdfasts is that their holdfasts fail to engage in both common and uncommon situations.

      So is it consumer-friendly to make something inexpensive that works only some of the time (or not at all)?

      Or is it consumer-friendly to make something more expensive that works practically all of the time?

      We chose the latter approach.

      If you are happy with your current holdfasts (or use them only in digital scenarios…) then you’ll have no use for what we do. We are not seeking to become a mass-market company. We want only to make tools that have 100 percent functionality at their core.

      Chris

      • James Brink says:

        If you’ve tried it, how well do the Crucible holdfasts (which look great, btw) hold on a thinner bench top? I’m a complete novice at woodworking, but I was at a seminar this weekend where I watched another manufacturer’s holdfast failed to grip a thin batten on a construction lumber (all 2x12s) workbench, even after a couple of hearty whacks by the seminar presenter. I’m not sure if it was the thin material or relatively thin bench top, but the holdfasts he was using — while a considerably less expensive product — have been generally well reviewed. It makes me think that (a) I either need to invest more into my eventual workbench build and put a thicker top on it, or (b) will need to look at some of these new holdfasts that are on the market now…

        • franktiger says:

          You’ll be surprised how good a thin top will grip the holdfast. I’d seen thin tops online being used with a hold fast, so when I had built my first staked saw bench from ADB I drilled a hole for my smaller holdfast(8″x3.5″) which holds in the saw bench better than in my wk bench.
          Not really a necessity on the sawbench but I had to try it.

      • jjongsma says:

        Are you saying that it is impossible to make a 3/4″ holdfast that works 100% of the time? Did you start by trying to make a 3/4″ holdfast and switch to 1″ after realizing that you couldn’t make one that met your expectations? Or did you have the 1″ requirement from the start of your tool design process? I’m genuinely curious, not being judgemental.

        • I have yet to use a 3/4″ holdfast that worked in all the common bench situations for furniture-making. Many years ago I learned that 1″ holdfasts (and larger) were the norm – not 3/4″.

          So we decided to make a 1″ holdfast, and it works better for us in benches thick and thin.

  5. Ryan Cheney says:

    You’re arguments for 1″ dogholes are very persuasive.. damn you, and all of your smartness!! I’m pretty heavily invested in Veritas 3/4″ doghole accessories, but somehow, I can see them offering 1″ retrofits for a lot of that stuff. They seem to a pretty dynamic and forward looking company. There are also retrofits that I might be able to figure out on my own. Us woodworking types tend to be a resourceful lot. Then I can have my Crucible holdfasts and eat them too. Wait, that didn’t come out right. My metaphor-mixer has been left on again.

  6. The Beatles had also heard about this 3/4″ vs 1″ dilemma decades ago. In June 1967 they made a statement against dozens of 3/4″ hold fast holes on their latest long playing record. Fab Four advised us indirectly to drill bigger holes. Apparently, some wise man (or woman) had also calculated the number of 3/4″ hold fast holes in Blackburn, UK + how much sawdust it takes to fill the Albert Hall with all that drilling waste:

    “I read the news today oh boy
    Four thousand holes in Blackburn Lancashire
    And though the holes were rather small
    They had to count them all
    Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall
    (A Day In The Life/Sgt Pepper`s Lonely Hearts Club Band)

    I wish your company every success in the future!

  7. Rhino says:

    I don’t know about Chris, but I’m getting tired of
    Seeing people standing there who disagree and never win,
    Silly people run around, they worry me and never ask me.
    But if they did, I’d tell them:

    I’m fixing the holes.
    It stops my mind from wandering.
    And it really doesn’t matter if I’m wrong I’m right.

  8. jwatriss says:

    For those looking for commercial, steel bench dogs, the Sjobergs Elite series benches use 1″ holes, and come with some very stout steel dogs. Hate to mention that manufacturer on Chris’s blog, but that option is there for the buy-it-not-build-it crowd.

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