Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fall Update


We apologize for not updating the blog as frequently, but it's been quite busy here this summer what with all our new products coming down the pike. Here's what's happening at Benchcrafted.

Swing Seat 
The patterns are done and on their way to the foundry. Next week we hope to get some video of the first pour. We always run samples to check gating (how the metal flows) and such, so this won't be a production run. If the sample run looks good we'll go right ahead with a production run so we can get these produced asap. The goal on these is to have some ready for Christmas delivery.


Planing Stop
We've got the first run finished and ready for packaging. Once we update the website you'll be able to buy one. Price: $24. Includes everything you need to put one in your bench, except for the wood stock. Watch for these in the next few weeks.



Classic Workbench Plans
The plans are finished (thanks Louis!) All we need to do now is sit down and write the instructions, take some pictures and update the website. Christmastime is our goal.



Hi Vise
We've finished our first mass run of Hi Vises. This week we'll begin packaging them up. We've still got a bit of stuff to do with instructions and website copy, but we're close. We're also building the portable version this week, so look for updates on that as well.

Turbo Ecabulator
This never gets old




Thursday, September 1, 2016

Handworks 2017



Well another 2 years will have past when this rolls around.  We can now say to all you who have been asking "yes, there will be another Handworks".  We're never quite sure so the answers are few (zero really) and far between.

What started out as a woodworkers version of a Bluegrass impromptu jam session out in the woods has grown just a bit (now over 50 vendors) but remains exactly the same otherwise.  The event has expanded into a few more vintage buildings, other than that it's still free, homegrown, decidedly noncommercial, and low key.

We hope to see many of you there.

http://www.handworks.co/

Special thanks to Steve Thomas who was largely responsible for the 2017 poster seen above.  Stevethomasart.com

Also a thanks to www.k-type.com for some font help.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Moxon Vises Now Shipping With Crubber


For some time we've experienced increasing difficulty sourcing suede on a regular basis. The problem isn't so much supply, as there are plenty of cow hides out there, but rather finding a supplier who is consistent and wants to do business. Must just be the industry.

So we've looked for other options. And we found it in an unlikely place. Over the winter we fixed up our '69 Volkswagen Beetle and even went so far as to rebuild the engine from scratch. When we opened the gasket kit we found this corky-looking material that seemed to grip to any surface. After a fair amount of research we've sourced this material--a blend of natural cork and natural rubber, chopped up and reformed under great pressure into a dense roll of grippy material that's sliced--rotary veneer-style--into 3/32" sheets of grabby goodness. We've replaced all the suede in our shop with Crubber and we're loving it.

We'll also be offering Crubber ala carte so you can line your other vises or clamp heads. It should also work on holdfast pads, although we haven't tested that yet.

Eventually, when we run out of our stock of suede leather, all vises will ship with Crubber.

Watch for ala carte Crubber on our website this fall.

Say it one more time....Crubber!



An Elegant, Simple Bench in Walnut


Craig Thibodeau of CT Fine Furniture recently sent in these pictures of his minimalist split-top workbench in walnut, featuring our Glide C leg vise.

"Here are the photos of my split top Roubo with your vise hardware.  It's not quite as clean as it was a few months ago but it has been serving me well and is naturally starting to show some of the inevitable marks of regular use.  Best thing I've done for my shop in a long time."

Craig had the following to say about his bench, from his Instagram:

"And of course the main feature of this space is my split top Roubo bench with the @benchcrafted criss cross leg vise. I still find it amazing how useful this bench/vise combo has been over the past few months. I'm glad I waited so long before building a bench so I could really fine tune it to my way of working.
I'm definitely not a proponent of making a workbench as your first woodworking project. I think you need to get some time in doing some woodworking first so you can learn what type of work you want to do and how you like to work. Plus building a good quality bench is not a beginner project, it's big and heavy and takes big equipment to prep the materials properly unless your a hand tool only guy. Just my opinion of course."


"Since I had the camera out I took a few more pictures of my Roubo bench just for fun. Here's a decent shot of the @benchcrafted criss cross leg vise hardware. I'm still amazed how well the leg vise works, especially when combined with the sliding deadman. Super strong holding of workpieces with almost no effort, on my old vice I had to crank down on the handle to hold parts tight but with this one just a light turn of the handle locks pieces in place. That and the hardware really does look kind of cool. I sprayed my handle/wheel with flat black paint before assembly and left off the wooden ships wheel knobs it came with, they didn't seem necessary to me. No affiliation with Benchcrafted of course but I do like their hardware."







Don't let the simplicity of Craig's bench fool you. Craig is a master furniture maker, which makes the simplicity of the bench so satisfying. Many beginning woodworkers struggle with the minutiae of bench design, not knowing exactly what they want in a bench and vises. And that's where our bench plans come in. They've all been vetted by furniture makers with decades of experience. So chances are, if you've not got a lot of experience, building one of our benches will all but guarantee satisfaction.

But we don't want to make this post about us. So enjoy this video of one of Craig's pieces.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Mid Summer Update - Hi Vise


Right now the giant fireball is roaring outside and the heat index is 116. But our test shop window air conditioner (circa 1995!) is pulling overtime and keeping it a crisp 68 degrees. In this environment of extremes the first production version of our new Hi Vise was born.

First off, we've decided to ditch the French name and stick with something simple. Hi Vise. It's a mix of sappy happy greeting and functional description. Besides, when you work at Benchcrafted you end up saying Crisscross, Glide, and Moxon about a bazillion times a day. I'm not saying "ehtoe" any more than I have to (apologies, Mr. Punchinello.)

Pricing
Okay, we still can't be 100% on this, but here's a solid ballpark. This shouldn't change much, but don't hold us to that. When we began developing this vise we touted it as having nearly all the functionality of our carver's vise, plus a couple distinct advantages over the carver's vise. That vise cost $379. The Hi Vise base model (no mounting hardware) should come in somewhere around $165, and the deluxe model (mounting hardware included) should add about $75. We're trying some new processes with this vise that give a more worn-in look such as wheelabrating. Combining this technique with precision milled surfaces makes for a sweet classic look. Our mini Crosscross arms (see above) use this process.



Base Model
The difference between the base model and deluxe model is in the mounting. The base model can be mounted in a variety of ways depending on how you build the vise. So far our favorite way is to build a bracket into the rear leg that slips down into the jaws of our Benchcrafted Tail Vise. This thing is so rock solid in this configuration you'd think the vise was part of the bench. And it mounts and dismounts nearly instantly.


Another way to mount the vise is with a simple stick of wood across the back of the rear leg. Dirt simple and quick, you can hold this vise down to your bench with a pair of holdfasts or a couple clamps. Both of these mounting blocks are attached to the rear leg of the vise with two 5/16" flat head cap screws--the mounting bracket is tapped to receive these machine threads--a technique we've long recommended.



Capacity
Typical builds will yield about 5-1/2" between the jaws at full extension.

You may notice a new material lining the jaws on this vise. For some time we've experienced increasing difficulty sourcing suede on a regular basis. The problem isn't so much supply, as there are plenty of cow hides out there, but rather finding a supplier who is consistent and wants to do business. Must just be the industry. So we've looked for other options. And we found it in an unlikely place. Over the winter we've been fixing up our '69 Volkswagen Beetle and even went so far as to rebuild the engine from scratch. When we opened the gasket kit we found this corky-looking material that seemed to grip to any surface. After a fair amount of research we've sourced this material--a blend of natural cork and natural rubber, chopped up and reformed under great pressure into a dense roll of grippy material that's sliced--rotary veneer-style--into 3/32" sheets of grabby goodness. The good thing is, it's less expensive than suede and the supply is much more reliable. As a result we'll also be offering this material, which we're tempted to call Crubber, as an item on its own so you can buy it and line your other vises or clamp heads. It should also work on holdfast pads, although we haven't tested that yet.

Look for the Hi Vise to be available this fall.



And in case you were curious about the outcome of our little VW engine experience....



Thursday, June 30, 2016

Just NONE Left: Classic Leg Vise Unfinished + more M Series Moxons & BC Holdfasts



We have just one none remaining Unfinished Classic left.  Get it while the gettin' is good.  Not going to be this price again.  Here....



M series Moxons still in stock.  We may never do another run of these, so remember they are limited editions.  Here...


As always our hand forged holdfasts come and go.  The latest batch still has a few left.
Here...

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Update: French Oak Roubo Bench Kits


UPDATE: We just heard from Bo, and he's got a French Oak bench kit ready to ship.  Serious inquiries only. There are no surprises here, prices are listed below. If you'd like it, contact us and we'll give you the details.

Nobody ever looked forward to leftovers. Until now.

In the year-long preparation for FORP II we prepared extra materials and hardware in the event of something catastrophic. Thankfully, nothing happened (even with Raney shuffling slabs around.) The good news is, we've got enough of everything left over to put together four complete bench kits. And we're offering them for sale here.

Here's what's included:

- 6" thick French oak  to build a 2 or 3 piece top, between 96" and 108" long, and between 20" and 24" wide. We saw the slabs for good yield, but some edges could have up to 20% wane, which can be positioned on the underside of the top. The variability in the length and width is dictated by the slabs as they come off the flitch. Some are 20' long, others are 18'. Sawing off the worst of the end checks yields 96"-108" tops. We'll run the tops through the Oliver Straitoplaner which will leave minimal work before gluing up. These are processed exactly the same way as the tops we prep for the FORP.

- 4" x 6" thick French oak for the legs.
- 2-5/8" x 6" French oak for the chop.
- 2" x 4-1/4"French oak for the rails.
- 4/4 French oak for the shelf boards.
- 3x3 French oak for the planing stop.

All the above will be sawn to nominal dimensions, which you'll then work to S4S in your shop.



- French Oak Plate 11 Leg Vise
Massive French oak screw and tapped leg by Lake Erie Toolworks
Wrought iron ring ferrule hand forged by Peter Ross
Wrought iron vise handle hand forged by Peter Ross
Crisscross Solo by Benchcrafted

- Plate 11-style holdfast hand forged by Benchcrafted

- Plate 11-style planing stop hand-forged by Peter Ross

The entire package will be strapped to a robust pallet and carefully prepared for truck shipment to your shop. Pickup in Barnesville, GA is also an option.

This is everything that the FORP participants received during the build last week, except for the letterpress label and lunch. If you want a FORP bench, but couldn't make the build, this is your only chance to get this kit.



The price for the kit is $4410.

Actual freight costs, which range around $300 (that's a wide average) will be added at the time of shipping (unless you're picking up.)

Again, we only have four kits two kits available, and once they are gone, these won't be available again unless we do another FORP, which is always a big question mark.

If you're interested in buying a kit, drop an email to info@benchcrafted.com and we'll tell you how to pay.








Monday, June 13, 2016

The Big Bench Seat Update

Here's an update on new things we're working on, in particular, our new swinging bench seat. As an aside, the blog has been a bit slow here lately, but it's not for lack of content. We're simply busy with four new products that are demanding much of our attention. If you've not followed our Instagram page, you may want to peek in now and then. We've found it an excellent medium for sharing quick snippets that are just too short for a blog entry.

Development on the bench/swing seat (we don't have an official name yet) is moving forward at a steady pace. We're through with the prototyping and design stages and are in the midst of fabricating and mounting the two patterns for the seat on our foundry match plates, one for the seat's arm, the other for the mounting bracket. After that, we do a small run of castings to check our gating and whether the molten iron is flowing into all the nooks and crannies properly.

Although simple, there are some finer points to this thing that we're going to address. But before we get to that, a few words about cost. These seats were originally used in an industrial or institutional setting. Prisons, cafeterias, schools. In other words, they were made in a rudimentary way to keep costs down and production up, since many of the purchasers were limited by tight budgets. Although we're putting a little more into our version than ones of the past, the philosophy behind the price will remain. We want these to be affordable, and the way we're designing them, they should be. If you decide you want a couple of these for different benches in the shop (or even the house) we're hoping to make that an easy decision to make.


Many of the vintage seats mount via an L-shaped bracket that attaches at a corner. This is fine for general table use, but not for a workbench. We've designed ours to mount on the side of a bench leg, leaving the front plane of the bench uninterrupted. You won't know the seat is even there once you swing it away under the end of the bench.

Another improvement we're incorporating is machined bosses. The bearing surfaces on many vintage seats are simply left sand cast, leaving a less than smooth surface. Machining these areas will guarantee smooth operation and a firmly planted feel while sitting.


Several of you have asked us about an adjustable height feature. This seat will not be adjustable, and there's a couple reasons for this. First is cost. Adding an acme screw, plus joining it to a cast seat base, and then tapping a casting for acme thread are all very expensive processes. Plus, an acme screw will also have a bit of play about the threads. This translates into axial movement, which lends a feeling of instability to the seat. Yes, it's true that threaded seat posts have been made by the thousands in the past, but for a workbench application, we like rigidity.  So, although we could make an adjustable version that would function well, we don't think it's worth the added cost. Plus, we've found in our tests that the vast majority of work done while seated is done from a single height. If you need adjustability, then this isn't the seat for you.


Home use. We've been asked if this seat can be used at a kitchen island, dining table, or bar. The answer is, likely yes. We've designed this for use primarily as a workbench accessory, and have sized it for such. When sitting at a bench you want to be able to get close to your work, so we've sized the arm so the seat position places most people's thighs (and knees) even with or a bit past the mounting bracket, and thus, under the bench top. This also means the seat can be rotated out of the way when not in use. If you want to mount the seat to a table who's top extends beyond the leg (thus pushing the user away from the leg and thus the mounting bracket) a separate mounting bar must be used to, in effect, extend the length of the seat's arm. This can be made of wood. Many vintage seats incorporated a rather wide mounting bracket to serve this purpose. We may offer a separate mounting bracket, in cast iron, for just this purpose.

The hardware used to mount the bracket to your bench will be up to the end user. Since there are a wide array of leg thicknesses, we can't anticipate everyone's needs. We recommend bolts to mount, but in some cases lag screws must be used. We'll have instructions and recommendations for this.

We will not be providing the actual wood seats, at least at the beginning. Like the rest of our bench hardware you'll be expected, as woodworkers, to fashion your own wood components.

If you've got any questions, feel free to ask away in the comments.

Etau/Hi Vise

We still haven't settled on a name for this either. We're about half way through our initial production run. We're still on target for an early fall release.

Planing Stop

We've jumped through some hoops to figure out how to make these reasonably and we think we're there. These are getting the black oxide treatment at the moment. Once they come back from that facility, we'll start machining in the teeth. Yeah, they are going to be two-tone and look really wicked.

Classic Workbench Plans

Hey, you can't rush genius. We're working on them.

Benchcrafted Autonomous Vehicle

We're not making much progress on this since we like to row our own. Since we're on the topic, anyone want to buy a mint, 7600 mile 2013 Honda Fit Sport with manual? Nobody drives sticks anymore...


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Moxon M Series Available In Our Store and Hand Forged Holdfasts Too




Yesterday we spent a gorgeous spring day holed up in our packing room just because we love our customers so much. The result? We've got Moxon M Series vises packed, photographed, digitized, virtualized and webified so you can buy one. To order, see our store page.

Since many of you will wonder what's different about these, and why the price is so much higher than our standard Moxon vises, here's the low down. Over the past several years we've had many requests to offer a Moxon kit with fully machined cast iron wheels, to match the M series of vises we offer in the Glide and Tail Vise. We finally got around to making a small run. We can't promise we'll do more once these are sold out. Functionally these are identical to our standard Moxon vise. The feel of the wheel in your hand is obviously a bit different. But aside from that, no difference other than the look. The price reflects exactly the increase in machine process and labor required to take these from a sand casting to what you see above (obviously a huge amount of precision machine work, below is what we start with!) We're not upcharging these simply because they are fancier or a limited run.

We've also added our hand forged holdfasts to the store page, so you can order these more conveniently.






Monday, April 25, 2016

Production Updates For New Stuff


It's been a very busy 2016 so far here at Benchcrafted. We're up to our ears in new products that we want to offer this year. So here's an update on where things stand.

Classic Workbench Plans

We're hard at work drafting the plans for the bench. The goal is to have everything ready by the end of summer/early fall. We're trying to make these a little unique, perhaps print them on special paper, or make them look like old blueprints. We're not sure how that will play out, but we're trying hard to figure it out while keeping the price reasonable.

Planing Stop

We've been jumping over a few hurdles on this one. This is basically a really thick, but short saw. Getting nice sharp teeth in thick steel takes some doing, while keeping the price reasonable. We've got a few tricks up our sleeve though. We're looking at about 2-3 months availability on these at the earliest.

Etau/Hi Vise

Production on the vise is underway and we'll have the first components finished in the next couple weeks. We will be offering this vise in two setups.

     The base model will mount to your bench depending on how you build the vise. And we'll have plans showing various ways of doing this. For example, the rear leg of the vise can be built with wings that allow you to clamp the vise to a benchtop with typical clamps or two holdfasts. Another way will be to build the vise with an arm that extends back and down off the rear leg, to allow the arm to slip between the jaws of our Tail Vise and be held firmly in position. Quick and extremely solid. Or you can simply build the vise with a plain rear leg for holding in a traditional, open-front tail vise. This will allow the vise to be pivoted fore and aft in the jaws of your tail vise. We'll cover all this in great detail.

     The deluxe model will include hardware to allow the vise to be quickly clamped to any surface via a mounting screw built in to the rear leg. The mounting screw will be sized to accommodate a broad range of thicknesses, from a 4" workbench, to a 3/4" particle board banquet table (hey, you never know.) You can also build the vise to clamp to a range of thicknesses of your own choosing in case you've got a really thick bench.

Bench Seat / Swing Seat

We're still in the design phase on this one, but moving right along. It will go to the head of the line once we get further along on the Etau. We're particularly excited about this one. We've been using the heck out of our prototype, and so far everyone is saying "how did I work without this?"