Thursday, September 24, 2009

See us in Philadelphia October 2-4



October 2-4 we will be exhibiting our products at the Woodworking in America Hand Tools Conference at the Valley Forge Convention Center in King of Prussia, PA.

Here's what we have lined up for the show.

Benchcrafted Vises

See both the new Glide leg vise and our popular Tail (wagon) vise. We'll have vises on display (out on tables) so you can see just how robustly and precisely they are built. We'll have 6 vises (3 Glides and 3 Tail Vises) in different benches to try out. We'll also have an assortment of the finest hand tools for you to try the vises with from fettled vintage Stanley planes to Lie-Nielsen Bedrocks, as well as infill planes from Brese Plane. We'll also have a couple high-end hand saws to try our vises with. You can practice cutting dovetails with the Tail Vise, or try your hand at cutting tenon cheeks with a Bad Axe Toolworks tenon saw and our Glide Leg Vise.







The Benchcrafted Skraper

Our newest tool is the Skraper. It's a multipurpose scraping tool that shines for all sorts of miscellaneous shop tasks. Scroll down for a previous blog post about the Skraper. Recently, Popular Woodworking Magazine editor Megan Fitzpatrick had some good things to say about her Skraper she picked up at WIA in Chicago last month. Take a look at Megans' comments at the Popular Woodworking Blog. We'll be offering online ordering soon, but for now the Skraper
is available only at WIA.




8' Ash Roubo bench outfitted with Benchcrafted Glides and Tail Vise.

I'll be bringing the Ash Roubo bench I built last year. This is the bench that I used to prototype our vises, and which currently features both vises. I've also added a sliding deadman to the bench which I'll be bringing along. The bench will be outfitted with an assortment of hand tools so you can test drive the vises and bench. Additionally, I've added a Glide Leg Vise to the right rear leg of this bench for the show. The entire vise will be for sale at the show. This will include not only the Glide hardware, but also all the wood components-a massive 9" wide, 2-3/4" thick ash chop along with quartersawn white oak parallel guide drawbored to the chop, roller guide brackets also in ash, and ash-handled steel adustment pin. It would make an ideal vise suite along with our Tail Vise for those looking to build a bench in the near future.





Mag-Bloks

As usual we'll be bringing along a variety of our Mag-Blok knife and tool holders in various species and sizes. These are the best racks for storing chisels, edge tools, and especially kitchen knives. They also make a great inexpensive gift. Christmas is just around the corner, and any foodie in your circle of friends and family would love one of these. They are also great for storing files and rasps. We're bringing along a special bench accessory for the Mag-Blok that we're pretty excited about. It's a trestle-style mount for an 18" Mag-Blok. It allows you to place a Mag-Blok right on your bench for storing tools off the surface, but at the ready. Its massive base allows it to stay put without it being attached to the bench, which also allows it to be moved around quickly when needed. We got this idea from our good friends at Lie-Nielsen Toolworks, where we saw a similar holder on their bench (holding a series of their floats) at the last WIA in Chicago. Lie-Nielsen is a Mag-Blok retailer and they use Mag-Bloks regularly at the showroom and factory.






Bench Plans for the Benchcrafted Split-Top Roubo


Unfortunately, we won't have the actual plans ready for WIA. But we will have a poster on display advertising the plans, along with a form where you can be added to our mailing list to be notified when the plans are ready. The plans are in fact virtually complete, we just didn't get a chance to present them in a proper format in time for WIA. The good news is, these plans are being drawn up by Louis Bois, a professional draftsman who does work for Woodworking Magazine and Lost Art Press. So those of you familiar with the bench designs of Christopher Schwarz will recognize Louis' work in our plans. The complete plans will also include a 3d rendering of the bench, including vises, that you can rotate and disassemble on your computer screen. It's the next best thing to seeing our vises in person since you can see just exactly how they mount to the bench. We also have some extras in store on the DVD. Also, keep an eye out at our booth for a prototype of our new knockdown bench hardware.







T-Shirts

We had plenty of opportunities to come up with witty phrases for our T-Shirts, but in the end we decided to keep it simple. We figured nobody outside the woodworking world would get it anyway, and it's not very clever if you have to explain your T-shirt to a passerby! Stop by the booth and check out our new "Effortless Workholding" T-Shirts. You pay us for the T-shirt, you get cheap clothing with a cool logo that looks like Space Invaders and we get free advertising. What's not to love?

See you in Valley Forge.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

European Woodworking show in Essex, England



This upcoming weekend is the first European Woodworking Show in Essex, England.

Since we can't make it to the show (as much as we'd like to spend the weekend at what looks to be a fantastic event for traditional tools, chock full of incredible demonstrators and tool makers) please stop by bench maker Richard Maguire's booth to see our vises, which Richard is now incorporating into his line of benches. See his latest Roubo bench above (which will be for sale at the show), featuring the Benchcrafted Tail Vise.

Richard's benches are some of the most incredible looking pieces of work I've ever seen. These are serious benches for serious woodwork. We wish Richard and the other participants the best of success this weekend.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bench Plans In The Works




We've had lots of requests for plans for our Roubo-style, split-top bench featuring both of our vises.

I'm glad to announce that complete plans, as well as construction notes and a 3-d model are in the works and will be available soon. Although our instructions cover the installation process, these plans will allow vise users and bench builders to see the vises in three dimensions and even "disassemble" the bench to see exactly how the bench is put together around the Glide and Tail (wagon) Vise. The drawings are being prepared by draftsman Louis Bois. Louis did the bench drawings for Christopher Schwarz's Workbenches book, as well as the plans for the Holtzapffel bench from Woodworking Magazine.

We'd hoped to have these plans ready for the Woodworking In America Hand Tools conference next month, but that's not going to happen. However, if you're interested in receiving an email when they are ready, please drop us a line at info@benchcrafted.com. We'll also have a sign-up sheet at the show for those attending.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Benchcrafted "Skraper"



At this year's Woodworking in American Furniture Design and Construction conference we unveiled a new tool, the "Skraper".

The Skraper is a utilitarian tool that is intended for tasks such as glue squeeze-out removal to refining surfaces and joinery, and everything in between. Honestly, it's a bit difficult to pin down just exactly what I use the Skraper for, since I use it for so many things. It's not like a smoothing plane that has basically one purpose--to take a fine shaving. The Skraper can do that too, by the way, in addition to strategically removing glue squeeze-out.

The business-end of the Skraper is a solid carbide bar honed on three sides and ends. All 8 edges are razor sharp and capable of taking fine shavings. And since its carbide, the edge lasts a long time. The Skraper can be resharpened with diamond abrasives.

Instead of trying to list everything I use the Skraper for (not that I could even remember), I'll point of a few of my favorite uses.



Glue squeeze-out. The obvious one.

We all know that scraping glue while its still rubbery is a good technique, but oft times the glue can pull out wood fibers along with it, especially when using a card scraper to remove the glue. Here's where the Skraper shines. The 90 degree cutting angle , coupled with the thick carbide edge helps prevent grain tearing, especially when the tool is used at a skew to the grain.



Skewing the tool helps keep the grain in place while the scraper can do its job of shearing off the glue. The angled handle allows a zero degree approach, allowing space to get your fingers around the handle.



The Skraper also really shines for cleaning glue out of corners. After removing the glue, the Skraper can be used to take fine shavings from the surrounding area. See the video below for the technique.

video

I also like to use the Skraper to refine small areas while keeping them dead flat. A card scraper will hollow an area, while the Skraper will not. This is especially handy for maintaining the fit of some joints or the flatness of a surface. I like to think of the Skraper as a sort of one-tooth float. Holding the Skraper at a low angle and taking short strokes at a bias to the grain makes nice wispy shavings.







The Skraper is incredible on exotic oily woods like this cocobolo. Holding the scraper upright with a rearward tilt (I'm pulling the Skraper toward my body here) produces beautiful shavings. I can make dead flat scraped surfaces with no tearout.



These are just a few uses for the Skraper. I find myself reaching for mine several times during a project. And they are not just for woodworking, the Skraper is also great around the house and shed for miscellaneous tasks.

Right now the Skraper is not available through the website. If you are attending the Woodworking in America conference in Valley Forge, PA October 2-4 you can buy a Skraper at the Benchcrafted booth. After the show, online ordering will be available. If you'd like to be notified when they are available, please drop us an email.






Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Gearing Up For Valley Forge




Next week marks one year since we officially introduced our Benchcrafted Tail Vise to our product line. Since then, what Christopher Schwarz dubbed "the ultimate wagon vise" has found its way into woodworker's hands from North America to the rugged wilds of Norway and as far away as Australia. We even had to fit the Aussie vises with a right-handed thread instead of the typical left-hand thread because of the reverse polarity of the earth's magnetic field in the southern hemisphere. To test the tolerances of that particular run of vises we utilized high-tech cardinal grammeters fitted with redundant wenal sprockets, and 100% of the results came back obsolete. That's how much we care about the quality of our products.

So it's especially poignant for us at Benchcrafted that next month we should be hauling ourselves to the Woodworking in America event in Valley Forge, PA for the most fantastic gathering of top-quality woodworking hand tool manufacturers and users in the world since, well, last year's Woodworking in America event in Berea, KY.

There are a couple differences between this year's show and last year's. First, Philadelphia is not a dry town like Berea, where you not only can't buy a six-pack (or single for that matter), but you can't even order a margarita at the local Mexican restaurant. (I'm guessing the family that opened that restaurant found out after the grand-opening that alcohol is frowned on.) No wonder that guy in the corner is sulking on his haunches under that big sombrero, I would be sad too. The lime wedge in my bottle of Mexican Coke didn't make it taste any more like Negro Modelo.

The second and more important factor is the number of exhibitors at this year's event. There are quite a few more tool makers at this year's event. One thing we noticed about the people at the WIA event in Chicago. They were all really excited to be there. The hand-tool renaissance is in full swing, and these events hosted by Popular Woodworking and Woodworking Magazine are paving the way for future gatherings of hand-tool experts and enthusiasts. These forums for exchange and transfer of knowledge are highly rewarding, and a lot of fun. If you've never been to an event like this, do try to get to Valley Forge. We're really excited about participating.

How excited? So excited that we've decided to bring along the workbench we used to prototype and develop both our wagon (tail) vise, and our new Glide leg vise. It's a ginormous 8+ foot long, 500 pound Ash monster bench outfitted with the Glide leg vise and the original Benchcrafted Tail Vise. We'll have an assortment of fine hand tools and wood available for those who would like to try a Roubo bench outfitted with our vises.



One other exciting piece of info about WIA Valley Forge. A new exhibitor will be bringing bundles of Ash lumber specially selected and assembled for building Roubo-style benches. If you're planning a bench project, there will be no better time or place to pick up the wood for your Roubo bench along with the two vises that work best with the Roubo design: our own Tail Vise and Glide Leg Vise.

For a list of exhibitors and more info, follow this link.

If you visit, please stop by our booth and say hello.