Thursday, August 30, 2012

Crisscross Update - Video

Hard to believe it will be September in a day. It seems like we just got back from the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event at Jeff Miller's where we first showed the new Benchcrafted Crisscross. That was back in April.

Between our new handwheels and the Crisscross we're just about ready for a week off. But nope, we're trudging forward to get the Crisscross in production as soon as we can.

This past week showed some great progress. First off, we picked up a small batch of the first castings of the Crisscross arms and the brackets that attach the arms to your bench. And over the past weekend we machined up the first pre-production samples to test out the castings and our machining process.

We still have few small details to work out, but our pre-production unit is singing. If you've been following along, you know that the prototype was quite large. The production model is 6" shorter, and actually works better than the prototype as a result. The Crisscross can be used in benches as short as 30" (even shorter if you mount the screw a bit higher in the leg.) The jaws will open to about 9". Way more than you'll ever need. The cool part is that the chop glides in and out no matter how open the jaws. And coupled with our Glide Leg Vise, the thing is just a ton of fun to operate, and not to mention, effective. The vise holds wood like, well, like crazy. Compared to a standard leg vise with a parallel guide and pin, the Crisscross gives a little more ease when approaching the final grip. You have more feedback. With a pin its more abrupt and crisp, especially with a thick chop. Feel-wise, one isn't better, its just different. My own personal opinion is another thing. I'll be retrofitting my bench with a Crisscross as soon as I can. I never minded moving the pin, but did I enjoy it? Well.....

If you don't have a Glide, can't afford one, or just don't like handwheels (what's wrong with you?), the Crisscross works like the traditional leg vise of your dreams when paired with a plain-jane bench screw, metal or wood. Well, we haven't tried one with wood yet, but it will work fine. We'll get one mounted up with a wood screw and report back.

The vise in the pics and video was built with a rather long "leg" portion. This was done to operate the vise at a convenient height, and also so the screw would not interfere with the bench the vise is temporarily mounted to. The length of the chop here is 33", so pretty typical for a standard bench. There is over 8" between the screw and the top of the chop (in other words the top of the bench.) You will see some lateral motion in the chop as the vise is operated. This is completely intentional and built into the vise during the machining process. A vise needs a certain amount of give in specific areas, just like a fine suit.

We should have pricing by the end of the month (September, not tomorrow!) and hopefully a release date as well.

Here's a short video.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Build A Roubo Bench with Jeff Miller

If you live within a day's drive of Chicago here's a great opportunity to build a Roubo style bench with one of the country's best woodworkers and teachers.

Jeff Miller is offering the class in October, but instead of running the class for an entire week he's splitting it up into two three-day weekends. Building a workbench is hard work. Aside from the obvious physical benefits, getting a couple Fridays off from work is a whole lot easier than an entire week.

Jeff has built several Roubo style benches over the past few years, and all with Benchcrafted vises. He understands how they go into a bench perhaps even better than us--he installed his first two while forgetting to consult the installation instructions. He only called us once--to correct a couple of our mistakes, after he installed his vises.

If you take the class and decide you'd like Benchcrafted hardware, we will give our standard student discount. Just drop us a line before you order, which should be now to guarantee you have vises in time for the class.

For more info, see Jeff's website.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Lead Time Updates

Boy do we feel like this guy lately.

We know lots of you are itching to get your vises. And we are itching, no clawing to get them to you. We've been wrapping lots of stuff lately (rails, flanges, sliding plates, roast beef sandwiches--hey! we gotta eat!) and now we're into machining handwheels, by far the most time-consuming aspect of our vise manufacturing. Since releasing our new handwheels we've been swamped with orders. For those of you who ordered the new vises, we're approaching the 6 week lead time here in a week or so. I'm not going to be overly optimistic here, and we owe it to you to be completely honest. We're probably going to blow past that mark.  But not by much.

But here's the silver lining. We're lagging because we're making lots of vises. So once this current run is finished we should be sitting pretty, unless Oprah decides she's getting into the whole Roubo bench craze. I've played out the same exchange over and over in my mind "what's your lead time?.....none! we actually have vises in stock for a change!" That will happen. I can feel it. So, bear with us for a bit more. It'll be worth it.


The Crisscross has been poured. And next week we'll pour the castings for the brackets that make the Crisscross easy to install. Then both parts get some time in the Bridgeport mill to make them fit for the Benchcrafted label. Wait a sec, the Crisscross is cast with our name already on it. So there it is, its guaranteed. The Crisscross is going to be awesome!

Carver's Vise

Progress on the Benchcrafted Carver's Vise is moving along. This week we finished off a couple of the smaller parts. For this first run, we'll be making only 100 vises. This is one product that we don't plan to stock or have a lead time on. They will be batch made and available on a first-come, first-served basis only.

Have a nice weekend.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Crisscross Goes To The Pour

Last week we took a huge step closer to releasing the Benchcrafted Crisscross.

What you see pictured above is a foundry pattern for four Crisscross arms, mounted to an aluminum plate, complete with gating (the dark red parts.) We finished the pattern last week, and this week we'll pour a small batch of castings to test the pattern, and test the mechanism.

Stay tuned for more updates in the coming weeks.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Jeff Gives His Stamp

Furnituremaker Jeff Miller has voiced his opinion on our new handwheels at his Chairs and More blog.

"I’ve been working with the vises on a newly completed bench for a couple of weeks now. I’m thoroughly impressed."  

Follow the link to read more.

Thanks Jeff!