My Vices

The final step in building my bench was to make and install 2 vices. I was torn on building a leg vice or a Nicholson style vice. In the end after watching Tom Fidgen from the Unplugged Workshop I opted for the Nicholson. I had the hardware from a trip out to Rideau Antiques near Smith Falls. The face of the vice is a rather intense piece of 8/4 maple from KJP Select Hardwoods here in Ottawa. I opted for maple as it was on sale. I bought the piece early and left it to acclimatize to my shop space which I try to keep around 30% rh. By the time I got to start the vice build the wood had moved slightly and had a small check in one end. Given I didn’t want to cut the piece down I opted for the repair route. After flattening the block out to square (planing hard maple a rather different experience to pine) I cut 2 cherry butterfly keys.

This cherry was scrap from a project at work and seems a shame to throw away given it the trees were cut near here in the Gatineau Valley. I pushed a much glue as I could into the crack and then pulled it closed with the clamp. I then laid out and cut both holes and glued in the butterflies. Left the whole lot to dry for 24 hours and then pulled the clamp. Its been not quite a year now and I’ve not noticed any shifting of the wood so it seems to have worked.

After that I laid out the position for the holes and support rail. Fortunately I have a ridiculously large auger bit that was the right size for drilling the hole. Unfortunately it was rather hard going to drill the hole like this in maple with the brace. The second hole was somewhat easier given that I then squared it up with the chisel and fitted the ash runner. Once the holes were cut marked them out on the apron face, drilled the holed and fitted everything together. I will say the hardest part was safely lying the bench on its side to do the install. Once all the hardware and bracing was installed it was time for the handle.

I had a old broken shovel handle lying around and with a bit of work shaved it down to the right size to fit. After making 2 ends and finishing it Installed in the vice. As you can see here the bench changed colour. I was going away for a few weeks for work so soaked everything in linseed oil before leaving so it would have a while to dry while I was away.

After getting back I started in on my wagon vice. I’ve used tail vices before and while interesting they never worked as well as I’d like. I’d toyed with a few different types of pipe based moxon style clamps for the end but after reading Christopher Schwarz’s post on his wagon vice I decided to try one out. My hardware was a bit different to his so the build was more complicated. I used the hardware I had from a second leg vice, so acme threaded rod, holding plate and lock plate. The traveling dog is built in three parts;

First was a block that is the full length. This is about 1/3 of the width of the whole unit and contains the hole for the 3/4″ bench dog. The other 2/3 has a hole drilled all the way through and then is cut in half. This will contain the locking hardware that travels along as I turn the screw. Once this piece of hardware was fitted the whole block was glued back together. This has so far proven sufficient in terms of strength. I also allows me to both push and pull with the vice as needed.

Once that was done the workbench needed a slot cut out of it. The slot was then smoothed out and runners fitted with glue and screws into place. I made these parts out of oak for its wearing capacity. I really hate having to do a job twice. The runners for the traveling dog were glued and screwed into place. The tricky part came with making the cap block. I built this out of maple as well and needed¬† to fit it so the acme thread would fit straight. This is also held in with some 10 inch construction screws in addition to being dovetailed into the pine. So far I’ve had no issues with the clamping force or noticed any tear out of splitting.

Fitting all the parts into place was a bit of an ordeal but once assembled and tested it works great. I’m happy I went with it as the vice also doubles as a handy way of holding draw sides while I cut the dovetails.¬† Finally, based on the amount of travel I have with the dog (about 6″) I drilled out all the holes needed in the bench.