Saturday, May 30, 2009

Glide Update--What you'll need to install it

We're on schedule for delivering the first batch to customers the first week in July. There is still plenty of time to get the Glide at the pre-order price of $299. After June 30th, the price will be $325.

In the meantime, we thought we'd post a list of some of the tools required to install the vise so pre-order customers can get geared up.

Aside from the typical woodworking tools required to build the wood components of the vise and install it, you'll need some machine screw taps to install some of the components. Many of you will already have these, and for those who don't, you'll be able to pick them up at any hardware store or home center.

The roller guides are attached to the bench legs with 3/8-16 chromed cap screws. You'll need a 3/8-16 tap for these holes. Standard taps will work fine for all the holes, but bottoming taps (they cut threads almost to the bottom of a hole) will require a shallower hole. I use standard taps and just drill about 3/8" deeper than the ultimate length of the threads in the hole. You'll also need a 10-24 tap for the set screw that holds the wheel's axle in place.

To attach the garter or flange to the chop you'll need a 5/16-18 tap. If you like, you can dispense with this tap, drill clear through the chop and countersink 5/16 nuts to receive the bolts. Although the tapped holes make for a cleaner installation and are plenty strong enough. The flange on the Glide in opening mode only pulls back on the chop, and with the roller guide system, there is almost zero force in this direction. It's also a lot easier to remove the screw assembly from tapped holes. You'll be doing this a few times during installation, so it's worth it.

The nut plate is attached to the leg with 1/4-20 cap screws, as is the acetal bushing (not pictured) that's mortised into the front of the leg. Buy a 1/4-20 tap for these screws.

I'm a big fan of tapping wood for machine screws, and I've been doing it for a number of years. The holding power is about the same as using a threaded insert, and you don't have to buy the inserts. It's great for making jigs and knock-down joints. You'll also need matching drill bits, but chances are you already have them (see the table below).

Once I drill the pilot hole (use a drill press for accuracy if possible, but it's not necessary) I like to chuck the tap in a small, cordless, variable-speed driver set for driving (the slower setting). Hold the drill perpendicular to the surface and without pushing on the drill (just support its weight while keeping it square) press the trigger and let the tap feed itself into the hole. When you feel the tap tighten up a bit and you've reached the depth of threads you're after, release the trigger. Switch the drill into reverse and press the trigger without pulling on the drill. Let the tap thread itself out of the hole. It's important to go slow and feel how the tap is working. If you go too fast you risk binding the tap. At that point the tap becomes a drill bit and you just end up making a larger hole. If you're new to this, practice on some scrap first. You can also tap the holes by hand, but once you get the hang of using the driver it makes tapping quick and easy.

Complete installation instructions will be available in 2-3 weeks.

Glide Leg Vise Taps and Drills required:

10-24 tap ♦ 9/64" drill

1/4-20 tap ♦ 13/64" drill

5/16-18 tap ♦ 1/4" drill

3/8-16 ♦ 5/16" drill

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tool Lovers Brace Yourself

A couple weeks ago we were in Chicago for a Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event at Jeff Miller's shop demonstrating the Benchcrafted Tail Vise and the new Glide Leg Vise. During the show a recent acquaintance showed up. His name is Slav Jelisejevich (that's pronounced "yell-ee-seh-YEH-vich).

I first heard about Slav from Woodworking Magazine's weblog. Chris Schwarz wrote a fascinating story about Slav a few years ago, and ever since I've been looking forward to meeting Slav.

Fast forward about three years. I'm in Berea, Kentucky at the Woodworking in America conference. I walk up to a small booth filled with plastic cafeteria trays chock full of NOS (new old stock) files, rasps, chisels, planes, you name it. Behind a small, ragged bench is a cheerful character working a board with an enormous rasp. It's Slav. The same fellow from Chris' story.

After introducing myself (that's Dave Jeske of Blue Spruce Toolworks thinning his wallet at Slav's booth), Slav treats me to an in-depth rasp and file tutorial. I'm fascinated, and walk away from his booth with almost $200 of NOS files and rasps. I have to admit I was pretty skeptical that I needed so many different varieties. But in the past year I have used every single file and rasp I bought from Slav on numerous occasions. The guy knows what he is talking about.

So back to Chicago and the Lie-Nielsen Event. Slav and I strike up a conversation and he invites us to his shop for pizza and beers. Later the same day, after we pack up our benches and lend a hand to the Lie-Nielsen crew, Chris Schwarz grabs me and says, "you're going to love Slav's".

Heading towards downtown Chicago, our GPS signals us to make a right off the main thoroughfare. We're immediately transported to old Chicago. The traffic literally vanishes. And I mean literally. There isn't another car or person within a 3 or 4 block radius. It's still, and surprisingly quiet. The street is lined with old brick warehouses as we get closer to Slav's. I feel as if we're driving through a small midwest town on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

As we get close to Slav's shop we see Slav waiting outside the door to the warehouse where his shop is located and he escorts us to the shop itself. At first glance, I know we're in for a treat. Slav points us to the pizza (which was fantastic) and cold beers, which after a long day on our feet we heartily devour. Slav invites us to wander freely and poke around. It's really too much to take in. There tools everywhere. Rules, saws, machinery, planes, files. And a lot of it is for sale. (Slav is an effective low-pressure salesman, and I found that purchasing tools was almost irresistible).

But some of the stuff is from Slav's own tool collection, which includes tools new and old. And a lot of NOS tools that have never seen the light of day.

Here's one of many racks of old planes and plane irons.

Old levels housed in a vintage hardware store display case.

Display cases of old machinist tools, boxwood rules, Lufkin tape measures, and lots of other stuff that you'd have to stare at long and hard to discover.

Slav's collection of old miter-box saws, hanging above some of his veneer stock.

Slav was kind enough to show us his personal everyday-use tool cabinet. These are some of his chisels. Slav not only sells tools, but is also an accomplished furniture and cabinetmaker. This is a working shop. When we stopped, Slav was working on a teak kitchen island destined for a condominium with a view of lake Michigan. Some of Slav's past work can be seen around the shop. I noticed a nicely dovetailed bird's-eye maple wall cabinet with ebony beading. Slav has also been published in Fine Woodworking's Design Book series.

A large mortising chisel.

Slav's everyday tools include several infill planes. Here I'm looking over a couple Norris shoulder planes infilled with rosewood, as Ron Brese examines a Norris smoother.

A Norris smoothing plane.

A Wayne Anderson smoothing plane.

Another Wayne Anderson plane. This little plane was incredibly comfortable. Peeking in from the left is an incredible brass bull nose shoulder plane.

Slav also has a good collection of vintage iron. These Delta machines were in fine condition and ran like a top. Slav was in the middle of refurbishing several old Delta drill presses when we stopped by.

We were at Slav's for a couple of hours, but I felt like we only scratched the surface. Slav's tool collection can only be topped by his kindness and hospitality. Thanks, Slav!

If you're in need of old files or rasps (or something else), contact Slav at Mustang Design 312-455-0430.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

And now for something completely different...

Though this isn't a review blog per se, we often mention products or items of interest that fit in with our own. In this case it's photography and it's been a while since we came across something this satisfying. We like other makers of our ilk, artisans who are trying to do what they can, as best they can, in an honest to goodness way.

In our never ending search for the Ultimate Camera Strap (in conjunction with it's cousin the Ultimate Camera Bag!.....still looking) we stumbled on this gem, Gordy's Camera Straps. We're not too fond of straps particularly, or camera accessories in general. Having grown up in what might be considered the Golden Age of photography, or at least it's twilight, we like simple, mildly padded, not spongy, tough, manly gear. As long as it does what it should. All of this "comfortable" and "protective" foam and neoprene just gets in our way. We were raised to use our gear, not baby it. If a hard leather case was good enough for Ansel it's darn good enough for us.

That brings us to this strap, a no nonsense leather article, expertly stitched to be all but bullet proof. The straps come in various configurations, we chose the Sling, worn across the chest to the hip, with the black thumbscrew tripod attachment. The strap attaches just like your tripod and is equally secure (that's it mounted on our D70s). The beauty of the thumbscrew is simple and fast attachment, and more importantly detachment. Coupled between the thumbscrew and strap is a typical quick link connector which facilitates sliding the camera around to your eye, the strap doesn't move, the camera does. This design is being used by others but without the charm and craft work that goes into these.

Gordy makes both neck & hand straps in several different mount styles (tripod, lug, string, etc). We can't recommend these enough. And contrary to our Hemmingway-ish attitude concerning no nonesense comfort, this strap is darn comfortable too boot.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pre-Order The Glide Leg Vise

This weekend we'll be heading to Popular Woodworking magazine's headquarters for a Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event. At the event we'll be taking pre-orders for our new Glide Leg Vise. We'll also have Benchcrafted Tail Vises available for purchase at the event as well as Mag-Bloks.

Pre-order pricing for the Glide will be $299, plus shipping. Pre-order pricing will be in effect through June 30th. The regular price for the Glide will be $325. The first batch of Glides will be shipping approximately the first week of July.

We're also going to start offering special package pricing if you'd like to outfit your bench with both the Glide and our Benchcrafted Tail Vise. The price will be $639. That's a savings of $36 vs. purchasing separately. You'll also save on shipping vs. purchasing separately.

If you can't make it to the Lie-Nielsen event this weekend, you'll be able to place a pre-order for the Glide vise through the Benchcrafted website beginning Friday.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A New Chisel For Fine Work

I'm proud to announce the final version of the new chisel designed for fine work from Czeck Edge Hand Tool. This tool is a design collaboration between Robert Zajicek and myself. I was looking for a small, well-balanced tool for fine work like dovetails and inlay. This tool fills the bill.

But don't be alarmed by the diminutive size of this chisel. It's a burly brute in a petite package. Bob's aerospace engineering background enabled him to pack some punch into this sweet little cutting tool. I won't go into the details, but suffice it to say it's nearly indestructible. In fact, this past weekend the very chisel pictured above was tested for durability by driving it almost completely through a 3/4" thick walnut board. The tool's handle (which is made from acrylic-impregnated curly maple) not only showed no signs of damage, it showed no signs of any contact at all. And the mallet that did the driving was also an acrylic-impregnated wood. It showed no signs of wear either.

Czeck Edge will have the first batch of chisels (in various widths) at the upcoming Lie-Nielsen show in Cincinnati, OH, the weekend of May 16-17. See this link for more details.

Tail Vise Revised Instructions

We just completed a big update to the Benchcrafted Tail Vise installation instructions. We've come up with several better methods since the last version. We are now routing the cavity with the bench upside down. This simplifies the process. There are also a few tweaks here and there that will save a bit of time. We've also included numerous new photos with both the standard vise install, and a left-handed install. Make sure you note which photos apply to your installation. They are clearly marked.

We'll emphasize again-make sure you read through the instructions from start to finish a couple times before you cut any wood. This is good practice for any project.

Instructions for the Tail Vise are provided via pdf document on the Tail Vise page.

For added convenience, you can download them directly here:
Benchcrafted Tail Vise Installation Instructions PDF.

Please don't hesitate to contact us directly if you have any questions about the vise.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event--Chicago!

Last weekend we participated in a Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event in Chicago. During the show we demonstrated our new Glide leg vise, as well as our wagon vise. The event was held at furnituremaker Jeff Miller's shop, who was a great host for the event. Demonstrators included the Lie-Nielsen staff, Jeff Miller, Christopher Schwarz of Popular Woodworking and Woodworking Magazine, and Ron Brese, infill plane maker. We answered a few questions for Woodworking Magazine's weblog about the new Glide leg vise, as well as dozens of questions from event attendees.

The good news about the Glide is that we've just about nailed down pricing for the vise. We will also be taking pre-orders for the vise in about a week's time so you can secure your place in line for the first batch. The pre-order price will offer a significant savings over the ultimate price of the vise. And for those who would like both the Glide and the Benchcrafted Tail Vise, package pricing will also be available, with a significant savings over purchasing separately.

If you are in the Cincinnati area the weekend of May 16-17, please stop by the next Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event at Popular Woodworking Magazine's headquarters. We'll be there with our new Glide leg vise and Tail Vise-equipped bench. The Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Events are completely unique and well-worth attending. They are also totally free.

We had a wonderful time visiting with all the enthusiastic woodworkers in Chicago this past weekend, and watching the experts from Lie-Nielsen demonstrate their tools and craft. Following are a few photos from the event.

An attendee checking out the details of the Glide.

Chris Schwarz's bench.

Another attendee trying out the Glide. In the foregroud, fellow hand-tool enthusiast Rob Giovannetti. (Rob is a die-hard Lie-Nielsen fan)

Event coordinator Deneb Puchalski demostrating at his bench.

Chris Schwarz and Ron Brese. Chris is trying out Ron's prototype shooting board plane.

Me, demonstrating the Glide in context.

Host Jeff Miller at his bench.