By accident I came across a local, hobbyist wood seller that had surfaced lumber stacked 20-feet high in his shop - red and white oak, walnut, cherry, elm... Great find and will save me a bit of a drive.
I found myself in need of planing a piece of walnut that was just under a 1/4", but could not think of how to secure the piece to the bench. After looking around the shop for a few moments, I decided to use a framing square as the planing stop - worked perfectly! The large square is thin enough to allow the plan to pass, yet rigid enough not to flex.
For me, drilling a new hole in my bench top is not an easy thing to commit to. Though I have wanted a new location to use a holdfast for some time now (measured in months...), it took a LOT of planning. Why? I am not sure. I can only guess that after the time it took to build the bench, the thought of drilling random holes in its top is not appealing. However, if the bench viewed as a tool, then why not make it more useful?
I use the right end of my bench to cut material to length. For the past couple of years, I have taken two clamps out of the rack and have clamped the board to be cut to the bench top - that works, but it is time consuming. Since I already use as couple of Gramercy holdfasts (www.toolsforworkingwood.com), why not drill a hole at the end of the bench to use a holdfast for securing the wood to be cut to length?
To get over the fear of drilling an unnecessary hole, or one in the wrong location, I began to draw circles in the spots on the bench that I would like to replace clamps with holdfasts. Every time I reused the area for clamping, I wrote a "1" in the circle. As you can see in the picture above, I have only used this area a few times, therefore no hole as of yet.
Two pictures above you can see how I laid the holdfast on its side of determine where the hole needed to be drilled exactly. I didn't want the hole too close to the end of the bench, but I also wanted to be able to position the end of the holdfast as close to the end of the bench as possible. Once the location for the hole was determined, I used a 3/4" bit and a brace to drill the hole. Using a square as a reference, the hole was drilled as straight as possible.
Done and with little pain... Now that the hole has been drilled, I do not know how I ever lived without it. Here you can see a longer board that has been marked to be cut to length. Since I use Japanese pull saws often, the batten and holdfast that is just barely visible at the top of the photograph will keep the long end of the board from moving while being cut.
As with most things, once you start using something, you find other uses as well. I can honestly say, this bench top hole and holdfast get more use than any of the others now. I should have put the fear aside a long time ago...