Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Megan's Favorite Tool

Popular Woodworking Magazine Managing Editor Megan Fitzpatrick has written a short piece on the Glide Leg Vise at the magazine's blog.

It's her favorite tool of 2010! Thank you, Megan. We couldn't be more proud.

If you'd like to order a Glide, with our all-new Satin Iron wheels at the introductory price of $325, you still have a few hours left. Prices on both vices go up tomorrow, December 1st.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Project As Bench--Follow-up

A few weeks ago I posted about holding large work, and how very large workpieces became, in effect, their own bench.

In the meantime I've finished the table and had the chance to take a few pictures. We got a lot of emails requesting pics of the finished table. So here they are.

The table is 10' long, and 44" wide, and just about 1-1/4" thick. It's based almost directly on a Shaker trestle table from Hancock, Mass. I took some dimensions from Chris Becksvoort's article in Fine Woodworking #193. I made the trestle bases wider and thickened the turned columns. I also added a third trestle in the middle without an upper brace. I also didn't recess the bed bolt heads into the column. I like the looks of them, and this leaves the column more intact. The bed bolts are excellent quality and are from Horton Brasses.

One small detail that was a lot of fun to make: the small dovetailed drawer to hold the bed-bolt wrench. I knew over the seasons that the bolts would probably loosen a bit, and having the wrench at hand would be a big plus. I hung the drawer with rabbeted runners and ran grooves in the top of the drawer sides so when the drawer is in place, the runners are invisible.

The entire table is finished with Kemvar conversion varnish.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Benchmaker's Apprentice: Square Legs and Flat Rails

Welcome back to The Benchmaker's Apprentice! Today I started out with squaring up the ends of the bench legs, after all, there's nothing worse than a wobbly bench... besides a shortage of pizza.

After some miter-sawing, these legs are as square on all sides as something that is REALLY square on all sides.

Now we need to joint and plane all the rails for the bench.

And we have some nice square rails for our bench. The short boards will be ripped in half for the two top rails and the two bottom rails. The long boards will be ripped also but just so that they are the correct width for the two long rails.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Iron Wheels--They're Here

I know many of you are patiently waiting for an announcement concerning our new iron wheels for the Glide Leg Vise and Benchcrafted Tail Vise.

This is the announcement you've been waiting for!

We sold our last chrome-plated vises today, and are happy to announce that if you place an order for vises as of this blog posting (Friday, November 12th), you will receive the beautiful, satiny iron wheels pictured above.

I want to to take this opportunity to say a few things about how we produce these wonderful tools. As you may know, our vises are made by hand. We don't mass-produce parts on CNC equipment and "hope" they end up working together once they reach the customer. Each component is tested by a human being before they are allowed to be shipped to the customer. We don't offer seconds. If there is an issue with a vise, it doesn't get shipped.

Proudly, since we began producing vises over two years ago we have yet to have a single vise returned. We take pride in our work. Our head machinist has decades of tool and die making experience, and he doesn't let anything out the door that doesn't meet his high standards. He is an old-school machinist of the highest order.

We are also extremely proud to be manufacturing these vises in the United States. Benchcrafted is a family business, and we are proud to be Americans. Our paternal grandfather worked in a local meat-packing plant for decades, was the proprietor of a small grocery and served his city and church throughout his life. He was often called upon to sing patriotic songs at local civic events (he was gifted with an excellent singing voice). Our maternal grandfather served in World War II and spent many months in a German P.O.W. camp. He weighed less than 100 pounds when he was liberated by Allied forces. Both were avid hobbyist woodworkers, patriotic Americans, and would be extremely proud of what we're doing here at Benchcrafted.

It was recently brought to our attention that the chrome-plated wheels that we had previously sourced we're not of American manufacture, even though they were cast with the name of the American company that manufactured them. We were somewhat dismayed by this. In light of this fact, we are especially pleased to announce that our new wheels are cast in a Midwest foundry, and machined to our specs just a few miles from the foundry by a company that has been doing this since 1945.

Being made in America, one would assume a grossly higher cost for these parts. Not so. The new wheels are just a few dollars more than the chrome-plated wheels, and the quality is higher. For a short time, we're offering both vises, with the new handwheels, at the same price we have since we started. The price for both vises will go up slightly after December 1st.

Please bear with us during this time of transition. Although we don't anticipate any delays, demand may push our 2-3 week lead time closer to 5-6 weeks initially. If you are thinking of vises for Christmas, you should order now to increase your chances of getting some new iron under the tree this year (but by no means a guarantee, as we have no idea what initial demand may be).

NOTE: A few customers have asked if the new wheels include the rosewood handle. They do. The handles pictured above are not yet machined to receive the handle.