Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Moxon Vise As A Twin Screw

We get lots of emails asking about using the Benchcrafted Moxon Vise hardware as a twin screw face vise.

We've addressed this idea in the past. Follow the link to read that post.

But English cabinetmaker David Barron has every reason to mount one of our Moxon's as a twin screw face vise. You see, David doesn't need to raise up his Moxon vise for comfortable sawing because David sits down when he saws dovetails.

And this is the beauty of David's Moxon install. He gets the best of both world's: a Moxon vise for sawing dovetails, and the speed of the Benchcrafted Moxon as a twin screw vise.

Now, this setup isn't for everyone. I was skeptical at first since I cut all my dovetails standing up, using a western backsaw. I've tried sitting, and it just doesn't work for me. But when you consider that David uses a dozuki saw to cut his dovetails it makes sense.  Lots of Japanese woodwork is executed from a sitting position.

So I'm updating our opinion on mounting a Benchcrafted Moxon as a twin screw face vise. If you sit down as David does, it works.

Oh, if you're looking to get a Moxon, you should order now. For some reason there has been a run on these the past week and we are currently backordered. Lead time is about 1-2 weeks right now.

To read more about David's install, visit his blog.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Crisscross Pre-production FAQ

Since reopening ordering earlier today we've received a bunch of emails about the Crisscross. Hope these answer them.

Q:  Can I order a Crisscross now and add it to my current order?
A: No. The Crisscross is in production right now. We don't yet know how much the Crisscross will cost (since we're still working out the manufacturing process) so we can't take orders for them now.

Q:  Can I get on the waitlist for a Crisscross?
A: There is no waitlist, nor is there any pre-ordering. We will make an announcement a few days before they are ready for sale.

Q:  When will the Crisscross be available?
A: We don't know for sure. We've said early fall in previous announcements, and so far we're on target for that. We should have pricing and a much better idea of release date by September.

Q:  Can you put me down for a Crisscross now, then just have you bill me and ship it to me when they are ready?
A: No. There is no waitlist, nor is there any pre-ordering. We will make an announcement a few days before they are ready for sale.

Q:  What if I want to install my Glide with the Crisscross instead of roller brackets? How should I handle that?
A: You should wait to order your Glide until the Crisscross is ready. If you're worried about lead times on Glides, we should be well stocked by the time the Crisscross is ready.

Q:  Do I have to buy a Glide to use the Crisscross?
A: Absolutely not. The Crisscross will work with any leg vise design. Whether it be a wood screw vise, or a typical metal screw vise. We haven't tested the Crisscross on "Nicholson-style" angled leg vises.

Q:  I already have a Glide, will it work with the new Crisscross?
A:Yes. You'll have to build a new chop though.

Q:  I just ordered a Glide but have not installed it, but I know I'll want the Crisscross when it comes out. What should I do?
A: You should wait to install your Glide until the Crisscross is ready. For anyone who's bought a Glide since Feb 1st 2012, we'll give a discount on the Crisscross since your roller brackets will become obsolete for your Glide. If you buy/bought a Glide after September 1st, 2012, we won't be giving a discount. In other words, we're getting closer to having the Crisscross ready, so you should wait to buy your Glide.

Q:  What can I do with the roller brackets/hardware I'm not using?
A: Give them to someone with an old-school leg vise. They can be used to improve the function of any leg vise.

Ordering is up again!

Well we've put up all our updated webpages including the new order page.  Lead times are approximate as usual at 4-6 weeks for vise orders.  We anticipate knocking that down to nearly nothing later this year.  Now that we have all our improvements in line, production should ramp up after this initial run.

Cold Bluing Handwheels

Here's another option for finishing the handwheel on your Benchcrafted vise.

The handwheels are shipped with a coat of oil for rust prevention. You'll need to remove this whether you use the cold blue or not, obviously. If you have particularly caustic skin oils, live in a really humid area, or have an unconditioned shop, you'll need to protect the vise (not just the handwheel) from corrosion, just like you do with any raw steel or cast iron surface in your shop. Paste wax, some sort of film finish (oil, etc.), baked flax.

You may also want to try cold bluing. The technique we use gives a light cold blue finish. It's not a deep black or blue. It's reminiscent of the dark finish you see on forged work. And we love it for that reason. That aesthetic really ties in with the look of a classic workbench. It also helps greatly in preventing rust (especially if you oil the wheel afterwards.) If you want a darker finish, simply reapply another coat of the bluing after burnishing the first coat with the steel wool. Don't wipe down with the mineral spirits each time, but only after the final coat. You can put several coats on, but you'll hit a wall after about 4 coats. It won't get any darker. After the final bluing treatment, we wipe on a light coat of Birchwood-Casey Tru-Oil. It's a tung-oil based finish that seals the bluing. You can also use boiled linseed oil. The oil seals in the bluing and deepens the look. It's nice.

Don't use this finish in combination with baked flax. It's either/or. 

We used Birchwood-Casey's Super Blue for this wheel. They also make a less-powerful version called Perma Blue, which may give different results (lighter, I'm guessing). Brownell's also makes Oxpho Blue, which we haven't tried, but expect it would yield similar results. The Birchwood-Casey products are widely available. Try your local gun shop or sporting goods store. Cabela's, Bass Pro, even Wal-Mart should have it.

Bluing is corrosive and bad for your lungs if a mist is inhaled. That shouldn't happen with a brushing technique. But we don't like the smell of the stuff, so wear a mask, or do it outside. Also, wear gloves.

Also, head's-up on ordering vises. Ordering buttons go up today or tomorrow. That's as precise as we can be. You know computers....

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Benchmaker's Package Update - Ordering Resumes Soon

Next week we're scheduled to resume taking orders for vises and benchmaker's packages.

The new lead time will be 4-6 weeks. However, we have vises in stock, and if you order first, your order should ship within a week. Given our recent updates, we anticipate selling out of current stock quite rapidly. We'll give a head's up when we're going to reopen ordering. So stay tuned. We've also updated the Split Top Roubo plans to reflect the new handwheels as well as our new End Cap Barrel Nuts.

Our End Cap Barrel Nuts replace the captive hex nuts. These were rather fussy to install so we designed some smaller diameter, longer versions our Barrel Nuts to make it quick and easy to attach the end cap. Simply drill a 7/8" diameter hole in the underside of the front top section and the End Cap Barrel Nut will slip right in (it's slightly undersized.)

We're also transitioning to black-oxide fasteners for the end cap bolts and barrel nut bolts. So all the exposed fasteners will be black for a unified look on the bench.

Plans Pricing

We're changing the way we're offering our bench plans. From now on the construction notes and 3-d eDrawing will be available for free download anytime directly from our Downloads page.

The 20x30 measured drawings, as always, will be mailed directly, or packaged along with  benchmaker's packages.

Eliminating the delivery of the digital portion of the plans has allowed us to lower the price, as follows:

     Split Top Roubo Plans: $20
     Shaker Plans: $24

Benchmaker's Package Pricing

Benchmaker's Package pricing is as follows: (as always, the package includes everything you need to build the bench, except wood)

     Split Top Roubo Benchmaker's Package: $769

Tail Vise
Glide Leg Vise
4 Barrel Nuts, bolts and washers
2 End Cap Barrel Nuts, bolts and washers
4 Spax lags
20x30 measured drawings (4 pages)

     Shaker Benchmaker's Package: $789

Tail Vise
Glide Leg Vise
Hardware Package (Hinges, necessary bolts)
20x30 measured drawings (6 pages)


Next week we'll be posting instructions for finishing your handwheels so they look like the one below. (and yes, that logo is upside down--don't ask!)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The New Handwheels Are Done

After many months of work, from sketches on napkins, to pressing the shutter release on the camera (just yesterday in fact), the new Benchcrafted handwheels are finally done.

These wheels were borne out of a desire to improve the quality, both functional and aesthetic, of our vises. Based on our own designs, the valued input of some modern toolmakers, and the handwheels featured on the vises of H. O. Studley's bench, the new Benchcrafted handwheels combine several features that improve the ergonomics, function and looks of our vises.

The Glide handwheel features a large diameter rim that is a joy to grasp. At 1 1/4" cross-section, the rim allows you to tighten or loosen the vise without a death grip. The spokes are shaped to transition into the rim with a wide curve, allowing fingers plenty of room to operate the vise without any acute corners or pinch points. Overall the wheel is 1/2" larger in  diameter (8-1/2") and this, along with an increase in weight over previous versions translates into greater momentum. Less input is needed to operate the vise, as the mass of the cast iron does most of the work.

The Tail Vise handwheel has gained thickness in the rim for a more ergonomic grip when making small adjustments. It weighs a tad more than the previous wheel so it also gains a bit of momentum.

The Benchcrafted "BC" logo is machined directly into the face of the raised boss on each wheel. It's not an applied logo or attached piece. Like our previous handwheels, the new ones can be finished in a number of ways. Baked flax, a coat or two of boiled linseed oil, paste wax, or simply left raw if your shop is climate controlled. We like patina, and hand oils and daily use is a finish we really like. We've also been experimenting with a new treatment and will post instructions for this in the coming weeks.

Pricing and Lead Times

The handwheels you see here are literally the first ones we've machined successfully. So we don't yet have any in stock. In a couple weeks we will be finishing up the first production run and will re-open ordering at that time. You will be able to order vises through the Store page as usual. This first run will go fast, so we can't be certain how long we'll have vises in stock. Rest assured, we are moving full steam ahead on the next run and we anticipate a 4-6 week lead time once this first production run is available for purchase. So again, in just a couple weeks we'll be taking orders for vises once again, which will allow you to get in the queue.

Pricing, as we've said, is going up. While these wheels are more costly to produce and consume much more raw material (especially the Glide wheel), we've been able to improve on a couple steps so the increase is not as large as we anticipated. Pricing will be as follows:

Benchcrafted Tail Vise: $369

Benchcrafted Glide Leg Vise: $359

Benchmaker's Packages

We don't yet have pricing on Benchmaker's Packages, since a couple things are changing with these. First, we'll no longer be including Gramercy holdfasts with the packages. Instead, we recommend  that you buy holdfasts directly from Tools For Working Wood. The main reason for this is that we can better control our inventory and get stuff to you quicker. Plus, Joel and the gang get more money when you buy direct. It makes better sense for both of us.

Secondly, we're adding some new hardware to the package for attaching the end cap. The parts will be like our standard barrel nuts, but longer. It will make bolting the end cap on quicker and easier.

And lastly, we're making some changes to how we deliver the Split Top Roubo plans. We'll still be sending out 20x30 prints, only the electronic portion will be affected.

We will have Benchmaker's Package pricing when the vises get posted in a couple weeks.