Sunday, December 26, 2010

Video: Excavating the V.2 Tail Vise Cavity

We've just uploaded a new video about excavating the cavity for the V.2 Tail Vise. You might want to have the instructions handy as you watch this. Especially pages 5-6.

Our blog layout doesn't fit widescreen video. Click on the screen shot to view it full-size.

Which Vise First?

We get this question frequently. You want both vises, but only have the funds for one right now, and you're itching to get started building your bench.

This topic came up recently at the Woodnet Woodworking Hand Tools Forum. A few customers chimed in with some excellent responses, which we're sharing below.

We recommend you purchase the Tail Vise first, and go ahead and prep your leg for a Glide when you build. Adding the Glide later will be much easier than adding the Tail Vise. And if you never end up with a Glide, the holes in the leg can be used for a basic leg vise, or just left alone if you end up with an iron face vise or a twin screw.

Question: "Would you pick the leg vise or tail vise if you could only get one? I have two vintage end vises and could put one where the leg vise would go or one with a built in dog on the end where the tail vise would go. I'm going to make a new bench top and want to incorporate one of them but can't decide. It seems like the tail wise would be harder to install at a later date so that's the way I'm leaning, but would like some input from those that have both. Which could you live without?"


"Hmmm....that's a tough one. Suppose it would mainly hinge on what kind of work you do, and what you would use if you didn't have the benchcrafted vises. I like your logic in regard to difficulty of installation at a later date, that makes sense. If you have a good substitute for the leg vise, then I would agree with your choice. "

"I'd go with the tail vise...a basic leg vise is pretty easy to make. You'll get more mileage out of the quality tail vise given only one or the other, I think."

"If you're only buying one at a time, I'd also vote Tail Vise first. I find in use I probably utilize a tail vise 75% of the time, and the face vise 25%, so I'd put the money where it will see more use."

"I have both and I would recommend the tail vise first as well. The installation is more complicated and the tail vise gets used more. A very very small amount of force generates a lot of torque in the screw. If you do go with the tail vise you will need a 4" top or something very close to it to give the handle clearance. By the way, I made square dog holes. I talked to Jameel about this at the time cause I didn't know the pros/cons of square/round dogs. I was used to round holes but I really like the square holes better. Square dogs require a bit more forethought when doing the top but I think they are worth it."

"I use my Benchcrafted tail vise just about constantly. I plane long grain, trim tenons, hold the shooting board, hold the honing station, hold the miter box, and a dozen other things. It's so fast and positive. I just used it to press in awl blades and press on ferrules, too."

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Present

Please enjoy these videos on woodcraft during the holiday weekend. Our Christmas present to you. Merry Christmas!

And a personal favorite. Yes, WWII PT boats were made of wood.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The NEW Brese Plane Blog

We're excited to announce that a good friend of Benchcrafted and fellow toolmaker Ron Brese has launched his new blog at

Ron asked for some assistance in setting up his blog, and we were more than happy to oblige, especially since Ron is a wealth of information on plane making, plane use, and furniture making, which was his full-time occupation before he began Brese Plane.

Congratulations, Ron. We're looking forward to following along. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Benchmaker's Apprentice: Mistakes and Fixes

Not many people do a large woodworking project without making at least one mistake. Well, here is the first (and hopefully last) mistake for this project. I measured and cut my mortise without accounting for the space the tenon at the top of the leg would take. What a dumb mistake, but it is so easy to do. Thankfully, it is not too difficult to fix. Above is the piece of wood I used to fill the gap in the leg so that I can cut the mortise farther down.

I asked Jameel to say a couple things about the mistake:

"I've made this mistake before in building this bench, its real easy to overlook since the top construction seems far off at this stage of the build. You don't have to trash the entire leg. It's a pretty easy fix. I wanted to share this on the blog to help others avoid this mistake. The arrow points to the 1" long tenon on the end of the leg that the top registers to. This is the tenon we forgot to account for. Since the tenon is 1" long, we simply needed to move the mortise 1" down on the leg. So the filler piece was made about 1-1/4" long so we could recut the top end of the mortise crisply while extending the lower half the correct length. We made the filler fit tight for a solid repair"

After I made sure that piece was pushed up against the end as tight as possible and after waiting for the glue to dry, I cut off the excess and planed it flush (no, not the sound the toilet makes after you're done in the bathroom).

And here we are at the mortiser... mortising. The first plunge cleans up the top end of the mortise.

Not a bad looking fix for a bad mistake.

Friday, December 10, 2010

New Vises Now Shipping

We've finished our first run of vises with our new satin iron handwheels and they look awesome! We'll be shipping out the first wave Monday.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Brian's STR

Brian has been sending us regular updates to his Split Top Roubo build over the past few months. He's finished this well-crafted example and we're proud to share pictures and Brian's comments along the way.

Note Brian's Glide install. He hid the front roller bracket in the back side of the chop. Very nice!


I’m a visual kind of learner, so having an excellent set of Benchcrafted plans and the really generous examples of builds posted on TalkFestool by Jim Kirkpatrick and Anthony M, have inspired me to get started and enabled me to avoid some of the mistakes that I’m sure I would have made. The hardest part of the build is “taking my time”.

The Roubo isn’t a weekend project for me. I’m just taking one step at a time and have gotten most of the under structure and Gliding Leg Vise put together so far. I have no problem blending the use of power and hand tools, and am using whichever will get the job done. I have had to work around not having a Table Saw, Band Saw, or Lathe, but so far so good.

Some progress has been made on the Roubo and I have sent along the updated shots. The base is now complete. Danish oil was put on to keep the maple from getting filthy, but changes can still be made. The shelf boards have been cut and placed on the ledger strips but have not yet been attached in any way. If a bead is cut on each lapped joint, (or at least if the edges are eased with a plane), it should make the color mismatches look less pronounced.

I don’t have a good source for maple hear in New Mexico, so I have to take what I can get color wise. Next week the lumber yard should be getting in more maple and then the tops can be started.

Progress is being made on the Roubo. I’ve got things in the final stretch. I still have a few more holes to drill and a gap stop to make and then some oil and we’ll call it Finished.

Here are the shots of the finished Roubo. I started in late August and worked weekends on it with about a 6 week wait in the middle for my lumber supplier to get in the Maple for the tops. I figure it ended up weighing around 420lbs. The plans were followed closely with the obvious exception of the hidden parallel guide roller in the chop and the full length gap stop.
Thanks for all of your help!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Benchmaker's Apprentice: Cutting Mortises and Chopping Legs(Wooden Ones)

Preparing to cut mortises for our legs on this big mortising machine. Nothing real complicated (that's usually how cheating works).

After all that horribly difficult work, I cleaned up the mortiser's work with a Lie-Nielsen 1/2" chisel.

Now that those mortises are done, I moved on to chop down all the rails to width.

The rails are all the correct width now, but they still need some length adjustment, specifically so that they are shorter.

Had to get rid of some nasty snipe the planer left behind. Not too shabby.

All rails cut to length.

Now we need to plane the boards so they are smooth and, of course, square.

I had a little problem with this board. As you may be able to see in the picture, I drew with my pencil where the board was not square and needed planing, back right corner and the front left corner.

To fix this problem, I took my plane and pinched the front, using my index finger on the bottom as a fence and took a shaving from the back right edge started the cut from the middle of the board and let the plane take a shaving about 1/4" in and slowly moved towards the center using the finger fence until I had slowly planed about 3/4" in.

I repeated this process on the back left corner stopping my cut half way down the board, similar to before. Finally, I took a full pass and sure enough, the board was darn near perfect square. Not bad, for an apprentice.