Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Miter Jacks - Just About There

Today we received the wood components for the La Forge Royale Miter Jack Kits from Nick Dombrowski of Lake Erie Toolworks, who machined the hard maple screws and nuts to machinist tolerances.

We're again floored by Nick's work. It is simply flawless. Nick nailed the fitment of our machined metal parts with the screw's tenon. We didn't check every screw, but on the first one we grabbed, the ferrule slid on with no play and snugged up at the last 1/4", dead flush with the end of the ferrule. Sweet. The garter pin slid into place perfectly. The fresh brass, steel, and maple are going to make a gorgeous vise.

We sourced the stock for the kits from our good friend Pete Terbovich of Horizon Wood Products and boy did he deliver. The nut blocks are cut from prime quartersawn 10/4 hard maple.

Tomorrow morning we hit the road to pick up the last couple bits for the kits, and then we'll get busy packing these for shipment. We're still fiddling with branding for these, so Christmas delivery is quite likely not going to happen (sorry!) We expect to have these ready to ship very soon though.

To remind, we're only making 100 of these. Actually, 99, since we'll use one kit to do a series of blog posts on making the miter jack start to finish. If you're planning to build one, you should source your maple now and get it roughed down so you can start building when the parts arrive. Get the Sketchup drawing here.

We still have a few kits available. If you'd like to order, click here.

Holdfasts: Still a few left

We've still got a few holdfasts available from the last batch. If you order now, you'll likely get it in time to put it under the tree.

These are not available on our website, but only via email.

More info here:

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Benchcrafted's Book Of Plates Now Available

Earlier today we received the first and only shipment of our new publication "The Book of Plates, Connoisseur Edition." It was delivered in a Bugatti Veyron, Sang Noir Edition by the mayor of Shueyville, IA.

What is this book you might ask? Well, it's a reprint of Roubo's original work, "l'Art du Menuisier". We went back in time to Paris, to when I was 3 years old in Iowa, and asked Leonce Laget in Paris to give a copy to his son Jacques in Paris, and then sign it and ship it to us, from Paris, in Iowa in 2011. That all really happened, well, except for the time travel part. I do have a flux capacitor though. And it lets me sweat copper joints like there's no tomorrow (literally.)

So why would you buy our version the Book of Plates instead of the one by the Lost Art Press? A few good reasons.

1. Our's comes with words. French ones. The Lost Art Press version is pictures only. That's fine if you is illiterate. Or have the patience of a 16-year old. Or you like to use Twitter.

2. Our's is almost a foot thick. The Lost Art Press version is only 1-3/4" thick. Schwarz calls this "a sizable chunk." I'd like to see Schwarz tell that to Jack Palance.

3. You have to store our's flat. Our's is so huge you can't stand it up on edge, like the puny LAP version. That one stands at attention, like a skinny soldier waiting for orders. Our's loafs around on its own dedicated bookshelf and gives orders.

4. Ours smells musty. Like something old, but good, and vintage too (but definitely not hipster, oh no) The Schwarz version smells like pansy-banana soy ink.

5. Our's is actually printed on a press. The Lost Art Press version was made with a Mac Book Air, tethered to an Apple Newton, on top a coffee table in a (flat screen tv-less!) living room, while Schwarz sipped warm Schlitz through a straw from a red Solo cup.

6. Our's costs ten times as much as the LAP version. Sure, you could have ten copies of Schwarz's version, but that's because it's 1/10 of what our version is. Our is ten times better, literally. Yeah, its pretty much the same, but still, its ten times (10x) better. It just is.

7. Our comes with a dust jacket. LAP doesn't even give you a wooden box. Neither do we, but our's does have a dust jacket, with Plate 11 on it. Three times.

8. Our's is in French. That's awesome-ique. The LAP version isn't even in English, because it's so lame IT DOESN'T EVEN HAVE WORDS (see #1)

9. Our's actually does come in a wooden box. (see picture above) We built a special marquetry cabinet embellished with Roubo's engravings just for this book. LAP gives you cardboard. I've never seen good marquetry done on cardboard before.

Satisfied? Contact me if you'd like to buy the one and only Benchcrafted Book Of Plates.

Seriously, this is still available. For more (totally honest) info on our copy of "l'Art du Menuisier" see here.

Also, needless to say, everything about LAP's Book of Plates (which is incredible) was offered tongue-in-cheek. I personally buy everything LAP produces. Well, except for the hoodie. I quit wearing those when I hung up my parachute pants for the last time. But the books are good! The best!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Don't Crochet With Your Leg Vise

We get this question a lot.

"Chris Schwarz put a crochet and a leg vise on his first Roubo bench, why don't you include one in your plans?"

Chris' first bench was largely an experiment. He built it to prove out Roubo's design in a modern setting. The rest as they say, is history. We were of course influenced by Chris' work, but our bench is Plate 11 at its core. In "L'Art du Menuisier" we don't have an illustration of the bench with the leg vise installed (discounting pl. 279--which incidentally has no crochet), but only close-ups of the leg vise in Plate 11. Roubo doesn't specifically say that benches with leg vises shouldn't have a crochet. But he does specifically mention the superiority of the leg vise for furniture makers. So we put two and two together and didn't include a crochet in our plans. If you do some research you'll find that anyone who's used a crochet, then a leg vise, never goes back to using the crochet (Schwarz included.)

To boil it down, don't include a crochet if you're planning to install a leg vise. There are reasons why it would not only be superfluous, but also a disadvantage. A crochet reduces the capacity of the bench (see pic above).

Although Roubo doesn't show a bench sans crochet, there are plenty of French shops with Plate 11-style benches with leg vises and no crochet.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Hayward on Mitre Shooting Blocks

For the upcoming release of our La Forge Miter Jack we've uploaded an article from "The Woodworker" detailing the construction and use of a miter jack from an English perspective. Charles Hayward covered nearly every aspect of woodworking through his countless  publications, and this one doesn't disappoint. Make sure you read through the construction details, since they give clues to how the vise is used.

Download "The Mitre Shooting Block" here.

I've had a miter jack in the shop since I first discovered it early in my woodworking. It doesn't get used every day, but when its needed, nothing else will do. Shooting boards are better for repetitive, simpler tasks like mitering a flat frame member or squaring the end of a board. It's when you encounter more complex joints that the miter jack really shines. Try planing a miter on crown with a shooting board. The other plus with a miter jack is that it creates a platform around nearly the entire workpiece. This means you can pare joint shoulders in one go and know that the surfaces will be in the same plane. If you're ever screwed up tenon shoulders, you know how easy it is to chase your tail around the joint with a shoulder plane, risking blowout at each corner. A miter jack not only gives you a flat plane to work from, but also holds the work at the correct angle automatically, and backs up the work to prevent blowout.

Next week, the wooden bits for our Miter Jack Hardware ship from Lake Erie Toolworks to us. We'll start a series of posts on building the jack using the hardware, and share even more uses for this less common shop appliance.

Thanks to the folks at the traditional woodworking publishing house Lost Art Press for the scans from "The Woodworker".

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cleaned Off Some Shelves

This time of year we're preparing for Black Friday. In other words, we're pondering spending that time in the shop making things other than money. We hope you do too.

Doing a little warehouse cleaning this morning we found a few vises we set aside for a moment like this. And the when the moment is right...

1. Glide Leg Vises.  SOLD
This is the previous version of the Glide, with the single Dymondwood knob, and fully machine handwheel. These are vises that may have some porosity to the cast iron hanwheel (very minor) or were used on demo benches. They are 100% functional and are just slightly cosmetically deficient on the handwheel. That's it. All other parts are brand new. We usually melt these down, but these are so close to being 100%, we're offering them for your benefit. Price is $300 with Crisscross Solo (add $40 if you want a Retro.) We only have two of these.

2. Classic Leg Vise Hardware Only SOLD
The hardware we used to take the glamour shots earlier this year. If anything, this is likely nicer than what you receive when buying new, since we already buffed out the parkerizing and oiled it up. It's a beaut. Price is $130. We only have one of these. If you'd like to pair it with a Crisscross, request that when you order.

And here's how to do that. Send an email to stating what you'd like, including your shipping address, and we'll email you an invoice to pay. Simple as that.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Holdfast after Camion Freres

While developing our hand forged holdfast we toyed with making one based on a holdfast by the Camion Freres company (see the CF holdfast, which we sourced in France, pictured below.)

However, the CF holdfast was just too huge to produce for a fair price, so we quickly ruled out using it as our model.

We did make one however, and we're offering it for sale. We usually don't sell prototypes of anything we make, but this is different, since our vise prototypes usually look like something out of Mad Max. This hand forged holdfast is a thing of beauty.

The CF holdfast reproduction (right) pictured with our Benchcrafted Holdfast prototype.

The CF reproduction works in 1-1/4"  or 1-1/8" diameter holes. It takes a couple whacks to release in the smaller hole. The larger hole gives up its grip with usually one whack.

Price is $250 plus shipping. If you'd like to purchase, send an email to and include your shipping address.

In the video the stock is 5" thick ash.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tail Vise C Now Available

We're very pleased to announce that the new Benchcrafted Tail Vise C is available.

Here's a little background about the vise. A few months ago we released the Glide M leg vise, and with improvements came a price increase due to the added components. We immediately decided we needed to offer a lower cost alternative with the same performance as the Glide M. The Glide C was born. Naturally we realized folks would want a Benchmaker's Package with all C series vises, thus the Tail Vise C.

In case you're wondering, "M" denotes machined and "C" cast. These terms don't refer to the way the handwheels are manufactured (since both are cast and machined), but rather describes the final surface finish. The Tail Vise with machined handwheel will now be called the Tail Vise M. Below you can see the difference between the Tail Vise M (left) and Tail Vise C (right.) Both are made of cast gray iron, poured locally.

Aside from the obvious cost savings (our original motivation for producing the vises) the C series vises with their sand cast finish have a distinct vintage and traditional look. As a hat tip to the old toolmakers, we outfitted the C series vises use beech (acrylic infused) knobs. If you're into the vintage aesthetic, the C series nails it. I have a C series Tail Vise and Glide on my Ash bench at home at the moment. I love the understated look. The texture of the cast wheel on the Tail Vise also makes for great ergonomics, since I like to grasp the wheel itself for small adjustments.

Aside from the handwheel and knob, all other components of the Tail Vise C are identical to the Tail Vise M. It also installs and performs exactly like the M.

The Tail Vise C will be shipping shortly, and you can order now through our store page. You may need to refresh your browser.

Price for the Tail Vise C is $295 plus actual shipping.

Price for a Benchmaker's package with C series vises (with Crisscross Solo) is $699.

For those using a Classic Leg Vise in their Benchmaker's Package, the default Tail Vise choice will be the C. We will gladly sell you an M with your Classic, but you must request it via email.

Friday, October 31, 2014

In Stock: Hand-Forged Holdfasts

We have another small run of hand-forged holdfasts available. If you missed out on the first run, now's your chance to pick one of these up. These are completely made by hand, no trip hammer, no power hammer, just a forge, anvil, hammer and human. And they are beautiful. Made in rural Georgia exclusively for Benchcrafted.

$189 plus actual shipping.  To order, send an email with your shipping address to

For more info, click.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

La Forge Royale Price List

Ever on the hunt for vintage French woodworking stuff, we recently scored a 1949 price list for Pierre Feron's A la Forge Royale woodworking tools catalog.

I haven't had much chance to translate any of this (I need to learn more French. Louis, are you there?) but I did try to translate some of the prices from 1949 francs to 2014 dollars. I found this chart which lists several currency conversions since 1948. Then I went to this site to see what it would cost in 2014.

So let's try to price a toothing plane, a "rabots a dents" from the second page of tools in the La Forge Royale catalog reprint from MWTCA. The price is 525 francs for the shorter toothing plane in beech (the least expensive wood). IN 1949 one U.S. dollar was worth 3.3196 francs. Divide 525 by that and you get $158.15, in 1949 dollars. In today's dollar thats $1581.71. Unless "Hètre" is French for "Stanley #1", something is definitely wrong here. (Hètre means beech, Charme is hornbeam, Fruitier is obvious)

So let's assume the prices are in cents, or "centimes". So 525 centimes would be 5.25 francs. That translates into $17.42 in 1949 dollars, or $174.22 in 2014 dollars. That seems more realistic.

Here are a couple links to download the price list and catalog. The catalog document has been around for some time (Schwarz posted it years ago) but this is the first time the price list has been online to my knowledge.

La Forge Royale (Feron era) Price List 1949

La Forge Royale Catalog (Feron era)