Veritas Bench Hold Down - Tool Review
by Jeffrey Fleisher
New Market, VA
This Veritas Bench Hold Down, a clamping style hold-down, is the type of high quality tool that you would expect from a company like Veritas. The hold down provides an infinitely variable clamping force by tightening the clamping knob. The post will fit any 3/4 inch hole in your bench, either on top or along the side.
I own and have used a wide variety of bench hold-downs; from the type you 'whack' with a mallet to sliding arms with toggle clamps to ones with screw down posts.
They all have their pros and cons but the Veritas Bench Hold Down provides the best functionality and has that 'feel' of a heavy duty tool that could hold anything to your bench top. The arm and body are made from ZA-12 alloy with a machined steel post and LARGE solid brass clamping knob. The supplied post is 10" long which provides a 8" clamping capacity and the arm provides a 8" throat capacity. There is also an optional 5-1/2" long hold-down post which provides about 4" of clamping capacity. The post has a set of fine barb-shaped grooves which grab the wood inside of the dog hole and resists any upward forces. My only criticism, if you could call it that, is that the barbs catch so well that it slows down your taking the hold-down out of the hole.
To me, the key to this hold-down is the unique clamping mechanism and over-sized brass knob. After you insert the post into a 3/4" dog hole on your bench and press the arm down onto the piece to be clamped you simply twist the knob a turn or two to apply a surprising amount of clamping pressure.
I've never liked the original style hold-down where you hit the top of the post with a mallet to force it to wedge into the bench top. It applies a singular amount of pressure and if things move I always seem to be hitting it more and more to try and get it tighter. I seem to lean towards the type of hold downs that you can adjust with various knobs and levers. They do take slightly longer to setup and use but I like their adjustability. Of the ones I've used, this Veritas hold-down is the best by far in terms of overall fit and feel and easily provides the most downward pressure. The over-sized brass knob lets you easily 'dial-in' just the right amount of pressure with very little effort. Without trying to overstate it, the dial has a 'silky-smooth' feel to it.
There are many ways to use a bench hold-down, with this being one example:
You can use the hold-down for holding boards while you dovetail or chop out mortises, holding boards for planing or sawing and even holding a board against the side of a workbench if you drill a 3/4" hole into the sides of your bench. I recommend you use two hold-downs if you are working with a really long board to keep the far end from moving. Hold-downs, like the Veritas bench hold-down, are extremely useful if you need to clamp a board in the center of your bench or if you need an 'extra hand' when performing an operation at the bench.
The Veritas Bench Hold-down should be in your collection of bench accessories that are always within reach around your bench. It will provide that extra hand that you always seem to need and provides the most holding force of any of the hold-downs that I've used. It has the quality that you expect from a Veritas tool and should last for a lifetime of use.
Purchase a Veritas Bench Hold-Down today!
Jeffrey Fleisher has been a woodworker for approximately 20 years and a professional woodworker for the past 6 years. He is the president of his local woodturning club, the Woodturners of the Virginias and past president of the Northern Virginia Carvers. You can see some of the furniture he has made at www.jeffswooddesigns.com. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.