Wise Buys: Hold-ins/Hold-downs
Why buy? Apparently, someone was listening when a woodworker said, "I wish I had an extra set of hands." Those helping hands come from stock hold-ins and hold-downs, which secure workpieces on tablesaws, router tables, and other machines. We tested several and found that nearly all worked well at holding stock for accurate, consistent positioning -- and preventing kickback -- while cutters slice away. You can make your own hardwood featherboards, but they could break easier than the rigid plastic kind. Some of the higher-priced models apply side pressure and downforce simultaneously.
Bench Dog Feather-Loc
The simplicity of these featherboards doesn't diminish their versatility and value. The first finger on the infeed side, 1/8" shorter than the rest, helps you set the correct pressure by simply resting that finger on your workpiece. Tighten the knobs (you have to hold the Feather-Loc parallel or the back end can move), and the other feathers automatically hold with the ideal pressure. I found this very helpful rather than guessing at it. The Feather-Locs also work great inverted as stops on the router table fence for stopped dadoes or grooves.
You need to mount a sub-fence with T-track onto your tablesaw rip fence or router table fence if yours doesn't have T-track built in. To test the Feather-Locs, I ripped hickory and hard maple and intentionally paused in midcut. There were no burn marks or kickback because the boards were pinned tightly against the fence. On the router table, I used a tall profile bit to make crown molding in white oak, and they held the 3-1/2"-wide stock tightly to the fence, even at the top.
-- Tested by Bob Hunter, Tool and Techniques Editor
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