Monday, April 25, 2016
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.
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.
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?"
Posted by Jameel Abraham at 11:33 AM
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Still discounted $40......!
When we first released our Classic Leg Vise we promised a few that we'd eventually offer it without the black Parkerized finish. Here's your chance to pick one up.
We only have a limited number of these, since this isn't a stock item. First come, first served.
The vise will arrive unfinished, sporting the freshly-machined steel surfaces right off our mills and lathes. The parts will have a light coating of oil. We recommend that you treat these like raw steel (since they are) and either keep them lightly oiled, or give them a good coat of paste wax to keep the rust at bay. You could also just let them get a nice old bronzey patina, if you have a few years worth of patience. A rub down with steel wool, followed by cold bluing would give them a steel-blue sort of look. Baked flax is also an option.
The handle is the only part that doesn't get fully machined. Since we start with cold rolled steel, the main shaft of the handle shows the mill finish, with only the threaded ends, and the V-groove midway being machined. This makes the main shaft look less shiny than the rest of the vise. The solution to unify the look of the handle (if you care) is to polish it with a maroon or gray Scotch-Brite pad, followed by fine steel wool (which is what we did to the assembled handle in the background.) You can do this to the rest of the vise as well, if you like the brushed, satiny-look.
If you're building a complete bench, this would pair nicely with a Tail Vise M, with its fully-machined handwheel.
The price of the unfinished Classic is normally the same as the standard Classic. See our store page for more info and options.
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
You probably receive several of these a day, but I wanted to say thanks for the excellent hardware and bench plans. Like many out there, I used Marc Spagnuolo's video series on his Guild site as well.
Walnut was 12/4 I got from a small hardwood dealer in New Hampshire, base was 12/4 and 8/4 hard maple I bought wet from a guy in Massachusetts and air-dried stickered in my basement for 30 months, and the top is from 8/4 soft maple I got from Downes and Reader Hardwood in Stoughton, MA (http://www.downesandreader.com).
I’ve been woodworking for a while, but the condor tails were the first dovetails I ever made.
I’m looking forward to years of heavy use - it will drastically change the way I woodwork. Also looking forward to the new Moxon hardware, and the other products you announced in a blog post recently.
Thursday, March 31, 2016
We're analog types. That's why we publish our bench plans on paper. These are far more quick to reference during a build than a computer. It's the same reason you see construction workers on site with a roll of blueprints under their arm and not a laptop. Unless that's a hoagie I've been seeing...
But our 3d eDrawing is quite useful for checking how certain components of the bench interact with each other, or for checking a dimension when you're in your office after shop hours. Here's how to do it.
First, download the Solidworks eDrawing viewer by clicking here. On this page, click on the download button. That will take you to a page where you can choose your download depending on your operating system (Windows/Mac.) What you want is the eDrawings Viewer. After a couple more questions (the usual user agreement stuff) you'll be downloading the software.
Once you install the software, download the 3d eDrawing of the Split Top Roubo or Shaker Bench from our Downloads page. They are listed under an image of each bench.
Open the eDrawings program, then open the file. Here's what you'll see:
Navigating eDrawings is easy. The controls are fairly self explanatory. The hand tool lets you pick parts up and move them around. The tape measure lets you, well, measure things. Just play around with it and you'll learn it in just a few minutes. Don't worry, you can't screw up the model. If you've moved too many things around and can't get them back in place, simply open the file again and the model will reassemble itself.
If you're especially
Here's a couple videos on navigating eDrawings. The software version is a bit out of date, but the icons are pretty much all the same in the new one.
Posted by Jameel Abraham at 11:01 AM
Monday, March 28, 2016
Posted by Jameel Abraham at 10:00 AM
Thursday, March 10, 2016
We have a few leftover Plate-11 style holdfasts available. We made extras last year, but didn't sell all of them at the FORP. I think there are perhaps a dozen left.
These are not to be confused with the holdfasts that we produce. Rather, these are based off the Plate-11 engraving. An original "Plate 11" holdfast from Peter Ross was used as a prototype. Peter was having some issues with his elbow when we needed these, so he gave us the okay to make a few after his model in order to have them by the FORP. These are stamped with the Benchcrafted moniker.
Ross' prototype can be seen at the very bottom of the picture above. The holdfasts are made by our smith who also produces our standard hand-forged holdfast. They are excellent.
Important note. These are not a regular item, and we have no plans to produce them. If you want a Plate-11 style holdfast after these are gone, you'll need to commission Ross to make you one. These are his baby.
Price is $220, including domestic shipping. To purchase, follow these instructions:
Send a check for $220 to:
Wyatt Childs Inc.1598 Johnstonville Rd, Barnesville, GA 30204(770) 358-0501
Include your name, phone, and shipping address in the envelope, along with exactly what you want (quantities, in other words)and you'll receive your holdfast(s). The included shipping is for one holdfast. If you want more than one, you'll have to arrange with Childs.
You can try to call Wyatt Childs at the above number, but really the best way to get a holdfast is the method above. Childs does take credit cards, so if you must pay that way, call.
Saturday, March 5, 2016
We received this note from plane maker, BBQist, and speed skiing expert Brian Buckner a few days ago. We remember seeing this is Landis' "The Workbench Book" (now almost 30 years old!). Handy little buggers, and looks like they work great with our Tail Vise. One addition we'd suggest to the design. Lengthen the width of the jaws between the dowels for holding narrow stuff. You'll get the functionality of an open-front, moving-block tail vise, without any of the disadvantages.
I wanted to share with you the recent additions I've added to my Shaker bench (outfitted with your leg and wagon vises) that I built based loosely on the one that Ron Brese built and Benchcrafted published plans for. These additions are called "Bench Puppies" or "Edge Dogs" depending on the source. I built mine based on a recent article in Fine Woodworking that was written by a student of James Krenov. It seems that these holding devices are popular at Krenov's College of the Redwoods school. Also, these devices are mentioned in Scott Landis' "The Workbench Book" (pages 108 & 109). He even shows some "store bought" versions (but I've never seen any myself).
In short these simple devices are fantastic! They hold items very securely and really broaden the holding capacity and versatility of my bench's wagon vise. Certainly well worth the meager time and materials required to build them. I used scrap and about an hour of time building mine.
The FWW article presents and discusses them in the context of a bench equipped with a traditional tail vise. Since the wagon vise is a close cousin of the tail vise (but much better in my opinion) I thought I've give them a try. I was at first a bit curious if they would work in a wagon vise since they would have to span and ride along the fixed benchtop front laminate. I was a little concerned that they might be prone to binding. In use this has not been the case.
A couple other concerns I had included the suitability of using a round peg in my square dog holes. I had considered making a special square dog that would have a round hole for the device's "peg". I'm glad I didn't waste my time pursuing this as the "round peg in the square hole" seems to work just fine. I was careful to turn the dowels to a close fit for the bench dog holes since a smaller peg would just introduce "slop" and might cause some problems. I was also wondering if the 2 degree forward lean that is built into each of the existing dog holes would have a negative impact. I was pleased to find that it does not appear to affect the functionality of these devices in any way.
I followed the basic construction techniques shown in the FWW article but digressed in a few places. Rather than glue the heel block on and then fit the peg as the article shows I chose to reverse the steps. I first fit the peg into the body of the device then placed that assembly into the dog hole of my bench. This allowed me to then ensure that the clamping face of the block was perfectly perpendicular to the front laminate. I clamped the body in place and then glued and clamped the heel in place. I've been wondering if it might be advantageous to cant the clamping face a degree or two out of perpendicular (leaning inward towards the front laminate) as this might increase the holding power of these devices even more.
Monday, February 29, 2016
We've been a bit inundated the past few days about whether or not we're going to produce a swing seat for workbenches, after Chris Schwarz posted about his recently.
Believe it or not, this has been on our to-do list for about 5 years. Back then the industrial-look craze was gaining momentum and we watched closely as vintage cafeteria tables were popping up at chic restaurants in big cities and health-food markets in our area. Soon after a few companies started casting their own. Once we saw the prices, we laughed, then decided it was time to make our's.
These seats were used is prisons, school cafeterias, soda fountains, telephone booths, drafting tables, elevators. Illinois vise manufacturer Richards Wilcox made their own that they outfitted on benches sold by the company. The company is still in business, but like a lot of companies, they make completely different stuff now, like industrial door hardware. Sort of like Greenlee. Once know for their hollow chisel mortisers, they now make electrician's tools. Most people don't know their company logo is still the end-view of a hollow chisel.
We've got a couple swing-seat designs in the bag already, but still need to prototype and work out a few kinks. Plus, we're going to try our best to make this a reasonably priced item. $500 is just insane. There's virtually no machine work on these. Castings are still pretty inexpensive, and being woodworkers, well, we can all make our own seats by golly! We're not marketing these to Greenwich Village sushi bars. We're making them for us, dang it.
Please don't bother asking when they will be ready. We've got some other stuff already in the pipeline that we need to finish. Hopefully though we'll have something before 2016 is over.
William Ng recently outfitted his entire school with new benches featuring our hardware. William produced this video showing how he set up for making a production run of Condor tails for the end caps. This is similar to the technique we use, but a little more production oriented. If you've got a bunch to make, or just enjoy using machines, William's method is excellent. It's a fun watch too, William's got a good sense of humor.
Friday, February 12, 2016
Its been a couple years since we came out with a new product. Here's everything we're working on, and hoping to produce in 2016. We're a small company, but we've got lots of ideas for new tools. Cranking out new stuff isn't difficult. But nailing it is. And we won't make something unless we've put our guts into it, and make sure its something we'd be delighted with in our own shop.
First up, the Etau.
Funny name, great vise. Here's why. The etau (which simply means "vise" in French) is a bit like the carver's vise we produced as a limited run in 2013, but is more versatile and handy since it can be clamped to almost any bench or table in just a few seconds. It's a great high vise, and a great portable vise. We wrote about the vise almost three years ago when we produced a one-off for the Handworks event in Amana. Since then, that prototype has seen a fair amount of use in the Benchcrafted test shop, and for the past year it's been mounted on one corner of planemaker Ron Brese's shop, where he uses the etau to shape plane totes and accomplish lots of other close work that the etau is well-suited for. If you've never used a vise the raises work to chest height, you will love the etau.
Right now we're working out a few minor bugs and tweaking the design to make this vise really sweet. It will incorporate some features from the carver's vise, and some from our Classic Leg Vise. The etau will be a regular item, not a limited run like the carver's vise. We think it's just about the perfect auxiliary vise for doing close work that requires more control. Let's not forget the cool factor. This thing looks great hanging out at the back corner of your bench.
One thing we're not 100% on. The name. "Etau" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. We'll get this sorted eventually.
The Benchcrafted Planing Stop
This is something that's been cooking on the back burner for a while. But our upcoming set of Classic Workbench Plans forced us to kick this little guy to the front of the line.
The Benchcrafted planing stop is a dirt simple thing. Could you make one in your own shop during an episode of Magnum P.I.? Of course. But we're hoping to make this one cheap enough that you can spend that hour making the wood parts and chopping a big mortise in your bench instead. Right now the only commercial planing stops available are made by blacksmiths. Those are quite nice (and we recommend them) but we needed one of our design for the Classic workbench. Obviously it will work with other benches too.
Figuring out a way hold a planing stop securely to the wood block without it eventually wiggling loose or rotating was pretty easy. We borrowed the idea from our own barrel nuts. Doubling up the bolts prevents the stop from rotating, and keeps it securely cinched down.
These are just about to go into production and should be ready to purchase by the time the tulips start emerging.
M Series Moxon Vise
Sorry, we don't have any pictures of these yet, since we haven't made any. We've long wanted to do a run of fully machined Moxon vises, not only because they would look outstanding, but also because we've have a few requests for them. These will use the same fully machined handwheel as our Tail Vise M vise, only machined to run on the acme screws of the Moxon vise. We can imagine a Moxon M made with rosewood or richly finished mahogany. Maybe a little overkill, but we can't resist. These won't be cheap since our M series handwheels take forever and a day to machine to a high level. And there are two of them. Expect these to be a little less than double the price of a standard Moxon.
These won't be a regular item, but only a one-time run. And this will likely be the first item we make where we take pre-orders before we do the run. If you're interested, drop a note in the comments section. It will help us gauge how many we produce.
Classic Workbench Plans
Read about these here.