Universal Stake Holder

by shelbyvision on March 9, 2011

For a couple years I have wanted to replace the stump I’ve been using for my metalsmithing. It’s just too small and light, so it tends to walk away while I’m hammering. The primitive way of holding stakes is not really very good either. The holes keep getting larger, and it’s really hard to keep the stakes from moving all around, which makes it a lot harder to get the job done. Another problem is there’s no height adjustability, which at times can be very inconvenient. I wanted to make a clamping device that would securely hold any size stake, round or square. I also didn’t want it to be screwed down to the stump, since screws, no matter how big, always loosen up over time, and I also wanted it to be easy to remove, so I could use the whole surface of the stump as a work surface if I needed to.

These first pictures show the new stump, as compared to the old one, much larger (about 14″ diameter on top), and very sturdy. I sanded the top to make a nice flat surface, then gave it a couple coats of varnish, not for looks, but to slow down the the evaporation of the moisture in the log, so the work surface won’t get all cracked. I cut it from a dead elm tree, and even though dead, it is very high in moisture, extremely heavy. Elm is excellent for this purpose since it is extremely tough, the fibers being sort of woven together, so splitting is not a problem. There’s just one hole in the surface, 1-1/2″ in diameter, 6″ deep.

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I made the stake holder entirely out of scrounged material, except for the L-bolts and flange nuts, which totaled about $10. It has a vise that can hold about any shape securely, down to a 5/8″ square or round. The unit is held down with two 1/2″ L-shaped anchor bolts. The short arms of the bolts are about 2″ long and fit into holes drilled horizontally into the side of the stump. The whole thing is so strong and solid, I used it to hold a 1-1/4″ diameter steel rod for bending, with no problems. If I want to take it off, it only take about 30 seconds. Putting it back on takes a minute.

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The following pictures show it holding my favorite raising stake, a big 1-1/4″ round stake, showing the range of height adjustment (6″ on the tool holder + 4″ on my chair = 10″, which should be plenty), then holding a tiny rectangular tool, and a very large stake with round shank, which now stays put when I use it!

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One advantage the old stump had was that I could put a short punch in one of the holes and resting the work on the surface, use the punch as a stake. To make that possible with this new setup, I made this table addition which fits snugly over the top, and works better than the old way, because the tool is held securely, and is height-adjustable. I can also put the sand bag on it for further versatility, or use it as a work surface so I don’t have to remove the stake holder every time I need a flat work surface.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

shelbyvision April 12, 2014 at 7:31 pm

Colby, this was threaded, but after a year or so of heavy use, the threads wore out, and I had to add a nut. I am currently designing a new clamping device that works the same way, but is made somewhat differently, having learned a lot about the drawbacks this one has after using it for three years.

Colby Ellerman April 6, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Would you be willing to provide more info on the clamping mechanism? Did you thread thread piece of metal on three side or use a nut?


David Cruickshank March 14, 2011 at 5:26 am

Excellent Ideas, well executed.
I have a large vise mounted on the side of a heavy stump, so the jaws are vertical
rather than horizontal.
I use the jaws for holding some steaks and the throat of the vise to hold other, heavier steaks.
Also on my heavy work area I use a ‘Record’ woodworkers vertical clamp which goes through the table and has a heavy square screw like a G clamp screw device to clamp various steaks. I will try to get images to put on line.

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