Saturday, December 26, 2009

Roll Out The Barrel Nuts, New Stuff!

Our latest product is the Benchcrafted Barrel Nut.

Our Benchcrafted Split Top Roubo Bench is built with a knockdown base featuring these new fasteners. These are so nice we thought we'd offer them in solo form. They will work for making really sturdy knockdown joints in benches, shop furniture and even in modern furniture.

The Barrel nuts are made from solid steel. They are a few thou under 1" diameter so they fit easily in a 1" diameter hole. Zinc-plated to resist rust, they are 2-1/8" long and are tapped to receive a 1/2-13 bolt. They are designed to work with 1-3/4" stock (thinner or thicker stock will work--you just have to space things correctly), so when the bolt is centered on the thickness of the stock the nut protrudes past the inside face of the rail, exposing the V-groove grip so you can assemble the joint without tools. You hold the nut in one hand, insert it in the hole, and adjust it while turning the bolt head with your other hand. You can easily feel when the bolt starts threading into nut. Grab a socket wrench and finish the assembly. Easy!

Getting the hole for the bolt to line up with the Barrel nut hole is easy. Here's the procedure.

1. Layout center lines and center points for the bolt and the Barrel nut locations on the leg and rail. Drill the hole for the Barrel nut, making sure not to drill clear through the rail. You can drill clear through, but it looks nicer from the outside of the rail if you make a blind hole.

2. Using a drill press, drill a countersink (if desired) for the bolt head and washer, then drill clear through the leg with a 1/2" bit. The hole will blow out on the bottom side, but it doesn't matter, it will be hidden inside the mortise.

3. Assemble the mortise and tenon and clamp the joint together. Using the hole in the leg as a guide, place your bit inside the hole and drill into the end of the rail. We use a hand brace and auger bit for its long length, but a power drill and hex-shank auger bit will work too. Drill as deep as you can.

4. Disassemble the joint and extend the bolt hole to the Barrel Nut hole if need be. These are long holes, and getting them dead straight is not easy, since the bit tends to follow the grain. We make life easier and simply enlarge the hole in the rail to 9/16 or even 5/8. It doesn't affect the strength of the rail much, and it makes installing the hardware effortless.

Four Benchcrafted Barrel Nuts, with four, 8" hex-head bolts and washers is $40. These are also available as part of our Benchmaker's Package, pictured above (minus vises).

The Benchcrafted Skraper is also now finally available!

We've made a few subtle improvements to the tool since we first offered these earlier this year at the Woodworking in America Events. Most notably, the blade is a tad longer than the previous
version and offers a little more versatility in use. We've also branded the handle with our name and logo. This will be more durable than the dome label we used on the previous version. Price is $34.

An update about vise availability. We've been a bit behind over the holidays and we apologize for any delay in vise orders. We've had to push our lead time to 4-6 weeks, but that won't last too much longer. We just finished up a batch of vises this week and should be ready to begin shipping orders the first full week in January.

We hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and we wish everyone a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Jim Tolpin's Split Top Roubo

A month ago we posted about Jim Tolpin's Split-Top Roubo build.

A couple days ago Jim emailed us with news that he had finished his bench! And what a beauty it turned out to be. Jim's bench was a collaborative effort. As we were finalizing the Split-Top Roubo plans, Jim graciously accepted the role of guinea pig. We sent Jim rough sketches of the bench along with the final versions as we finished them. We built the top (in hard maple) while Jim prepared the base, made from locally cut douglas fir. (Jim's bench is a great example of using materials that are common to your area.) We installed the Benchcrafted Tail Vise and Jim installed the Glide Leg Vise. The Glide's chop (hard maple), parallel guide (quartersawn white oak) and deadman (hard maple) were milled to rough dimensions and sent along with the top to Jim's shop in Port Townsend, WA.

Once the base was finished the tops were joined to it and flattened by hand.

Jim customized some aspects of the Split-Top Roubo to tailor it to his own needs.

Jim installed a Frank Klausz-style flip stop at the right end of the bench.

Jim also milled a pocket in the back of the Glide's chop to hide the roller bracket. This makes for a clean look at the front of the bench.

Jim also included a wide rail at the rear of the bench to further discourage any racking. When we first saw Jim's base we thought there was only one way to make the bench more rigid. Bolt the tops directly to an old Sequoia stump!

Jim reports the base is made completely by hand:

"All the framework is air-dried Douglas fir, harvested here on the Olympic Peninsula. Some of it was old growth--very high density. No glue, no fastenings (except for some traditional square nails driven in to hold cleat for bottom boards (which were held in hand-cut rabbets)). All joinery hand cut, tenons are secured with draw bore white oak pegs. All dimensioning and surfacing done with hand planes. The finished height came out at 32-in...just right for me for most planing tasks, and it turns out just right for light duty crosscutting using the flip stop and a small panel saw. The legs are 5 1/2-in. square. Overall a fun (and somewhat aerobic!) project.

Thanks for your part in making it happen!


Jim teaches hand-tool centric woodworking at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking in Port Townsend, WA.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holtzapffels and Roubos

This past October several students at Kelly Mehler's School of Woodworking gathered to build the Holtzapffel bench featured in the Autumn 2007 issue of Woodworking Magazine. The plans call for a Record-style cast iron vise for use in the tail vise position, but several students opted to upgrade to the Benchcrafted Tail Vise. Kelly also installed our tail vise in his own Holtzapffel bench at the school. Here are some photos of the class, and the happy students installing their vises. Take note that due to time constraints some students opted for a bolted-on end cap using captive nuts. This is a quick, strong way to build the end cap if you're pressed for time.

Lastly, take a look at the latest Roubo bench produced by Richard Maguire, this one featuring both Benchcrafted vises. Beautiful old-school benches!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Split-Top Roubo Plans--Now Available

What more can I say? The Benchcrafted Split-Top Roubo plans are finally done! We're absolutely thrilled to be able to offer these incredibly detailed plans that incorporate our vises. Draftsman Louis Bois and the Benchcrafted crew spent many many days (and some long nights) getting these plans completed in time for the Christmas season. We've already sent out some vises that are headed for that magical place under the Tannenbaum, so for those wishing for something special this season you'll have to be content with the awesome Split-Top Roubo plans. We're a bit backed up on vise orders after we received Best New Tool in the December issue of Popular Woodworking. Nevertheless, we think our handsome, old-school cardboard tube stuffed with rolled prints will make a great Christmas gift.

We started drafting these plans back in August after we took this bench to the Woodworking In America Conference in St. Charles, IL. Everybody loved the bench, and when we told them we weren't taking orders for benches just yet, the next question was, "so when do the plans come out?" Well, we're tickled to say, right now!

Stray over to the Plans Page and take a look.

We're also offering Benchmakers Packages with everything you need to build the bench except wood.

Have a great weekend!