The holdfast was an essential tool for the woodworker who needed to "hold fast" to a board or other work on the workbench. Large and heavy, this example was intended for use on only one of the three benches in the Dominy shop. By placing the holdfast's shaft in a hole on the bench top and driving it in at a very slight angle, the tool would grip tightly any stock placed under its arm. The arm and shaft are of three pieces of iron welded together—undoubtedly at a local smith's forge.
(Above) Holdfast, 1790-1840. Wood; Iron; Steel. 14.4" (L:), 10.6" (W). Museum purchase with funds provided by Henry Belin du Pont, 1957.0026.059
(Above Right) Plate from Roubo's 'L'art du Menuisier"
(Below Right) Illustration of holdfast from Joseph Moxon's 1703 Mechanick Exercises, p. 69