The history of the holdfast dates back hundreds of years, and in fact can be seen in frescos adorning ancient Roman art and architecture. Its of little wonder this tool has survived for so long. Its usefulness is hard to argue against once put to work. There have been a myriad of designs and adornments over the centuries and this seemingly simple bent steel rod consistently makes its way onto workbenches around the globe. It is, indeed, one of the woodworker’s best friends.
It is because of the holdfast’s storied history I forged a pair this weekend with the help of my friend/mentor. The process is fairly basic and even scrap metal can be used. As you can see from the photo we re-purposed some old plain steel J-bolt anchors. They aren’t pretty but they will serve well, cost nothing, and helped hone some basic blacksmithing principles. I encourage you to take the plunge and fire up the forge.