Brad Point Bits and a Workbench Hold-fast from Lee Valley

Most of us don’t realize that a bit is dull or perhaps that we don’t have the right size until we actually need it. A new set of six utility grade brad point bits from Lee Valley (item 07J0310, $24.50) includes sizes from 1/8″ to 1/2″ in diameter, and they range from 2-3/4″ to 6″ long. Though inexpensive, the company says that these USA-made high-speed steel bits “offer impressive quality and performance for general-purpose work”. They are precisely made with little to no run-out, and they cut clean, accurately sized holes with minimal tear-out. The bits have tri-lobe shanks for a secure, slip-free hold in a chuck. These bits are also available individually on the website.

Also new in the Lee Valley catalog is a hold-fast bench clamp from Cruxible Tool, which is part of Christopher Schwartz’s Lost Art Press company. The hold-fast (item 97K5012, $135) is based on a French design and can effectively clamp workpieces to benchtops ranging from 2″ to 8″ thick. The 17″ long post is straight-sided to work consistently even in a high position, and it has a rough-textured surface along its length to enable gripping thick stock. It’s designed to fit tightly in a drilled 1″ hole and slight variations in these individually made hold-fasts may require reaming the hole slightly wider.

To use, simply position the arm over the workpiece, insert the post into the hole, and then tap the top of the elbow with a mallet to simultaneously clamp the work while wedging the post in place. Striking the post from behind releases it.

The hold-fasts are made from crack-resistant ductile iron at a family-run foundry in Cincinnati that has been in business for more than 160 years. They weigh about 5 lbs. and can clamp as far as 6-5/8″ from the post. Crucible Tool produces hand tools using modern manufacturing methods and materials to improve on traditional designs. With a focus on innovation and craftsmanship, their practical tools are developed and refined by experienced toolmakers and woodworkers.