A few weeks ago, I went to an antique tool auction near Xenia, OH. On the tables was an interesting little bevel with a locking mechanism I hadn’t seen before. It’s simplistic design and art deco styling appealed to me. Intrigued, I waited for the bevel to come up for auction and ended winning it (probably paying too much.) I took home my new little friend, polished him up a bit and stuck him in my tool cabinet.
Then, a few days ago, I was reading Stewart Woodworks blog about some of his bevels he uses in his workshop. Sure enough, one of his bevels was similar to mine called a Southington, except his was all metal and not rosewood like mine. The only marks I see on my bevel are the words Hold-Fast on the blade with a patent date of 12-15-14.
A google search of Hold-Fast bevels doesn’t come up with much, and James said a google search of Southington came up with limited information on his end as well. Whether or not Southington was the name of the company or just a trade name, who knows? Nevertheless, the two have to be one of the same as both have identical locking mechanisms.
EDIT: I found out that these bevels were indeed made by Southington Hardware Co in Southington, CT. Nicholas McGrath was the patentee.
When you open up the mechanism you can see the simplicity of the design which makes it easy to use. A simple turn of the screw, tightens the locking mechanism to the blade. You adjust the screw to the proper tighteness and you’re done.
A lot of the antique bevels on the market have a one armed wing nut which you need to adjust the other nut on the back of the bevel to the proper spot in order for the wing to tighten parallel to the body so it doesn’t get in your way while using it. A lot harder than it seems. That’s why I’ve always enjoyed using Stanley No 18 bevels with the locking screw at the bottom of the body. However when I use it, I have to set the angle of the blade with one hand and tighten it in the back with my other hand. Not a big deal, but tedious none-the-less.
This new bevel is going to be even easier to use that the Stanley No 18 because I can adjust the angle of the blade and lock in place at the same time with one hand. Super quick, super easy. An ingenious design that has stood the test of time.
If you come across one of these Hold-Fast bevels at a local antique store or flea market buy it. You’ll be glad you did.