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.


  1. As usual, beautiful product shots and video. Are you using the D700 for these?

  2. Tim,

    Thanks much.

    Yes, D700 & 50/1.8D, with several strobes.

  3. Very nice. Doesn't look like it was cast.

    With the new design, did you guys ever kick around the idea of losing the wooden knob completely? Just curious. (I got the impression you might from the picture in your blog post of Monday, May 7, 2012)


  4. Congratulations! The new handwheels look awesome, nice work!


  5. Thanks Niels!

    Pat, a knob-less option may be a possibility in the future. We'll consider it. I wouldn't recommend it for the Tail Vise though, only the Glide.

  6. My bench has butterflies! Could one of those georgous handles end up on the glide pin?

  7. Liking that bench design for a small shop. How long is the pictured bench and what angle is that bottom stretcher? Also excited about the new wheels, obviously.

  8. Paul, The bench is 60" long. I have a very plain-jane Sketchup drawing of it. Drop me an email if you're interested.

  9. Mark, we're not doing handles for the pins. Too many variables. Got a lathe? ;-)

  10. How much to upgrade my older style glide and tail vise?


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