Home-made tools - How to save time when cutting pallet wood. The Plankmaker's Holdfast.

This is my take on an ancient device used for making rake handles. It's called a Rakemaker's Holdfast and I saw it demonstrated at an ecomuseum a few years ago.

The Rakemaker's Holdfast comprised two wooden pegs secured into a vertical post, the one peg approximately 200mm higher and around 75mm behind the vertical plane of the other. By laying the rake handle on top of the lower peg and underneath the upper peg, the Rakemaker could ensure the stuff was held securely whilst using his drawknife. The more pressure used by the craftsman, the more securely the handle was held. To release the handle from the holdfast and thus progress with shaping, it was simply a matter of releasing the pressure and rotating it.

As I was about to start building a new hen house and had 30 pallet planks I needed to cut lengthwise, I decided that I could use the above concept to speed things along. The most time-consuming part of sawing long planks is in securing them with a G clamp, which must then be released for the plank to be turned and then reclamped. 

All I did was take an old saw horse, I'd made some years ago from scrap wood and add a couple of concrete blocks to stabilise it, otherwise the horse would tip.

I can now 'thread' my plank over the nearer rung of the horse and underneath the further one.

The weight of the plank holds it in place and is further secured by the additional weight of the circular saw. 

Once the first half has been cut, the plank can simply be turned over lengthways to continue the job.

It may not be as fast as using a table saw but it's a darned sight cheaper!

If you don't have a saw horse, you could clamp two flat pieces of timber to the top of a workbench, such that 200mm projects over the edge of the bench top and use this as the Holdfast.

Now if you'd like to, sit back and watch the film. 

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All the best, Andy

© Andy Colley 2014


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