Wednesday, October 31, 2012

WIA Cincinnati 2012

This is a post we've struggled to write. For the first time since its inception in 2008, Benchcrafted won't be at WIA this year. We've traveled all over the country to attend this event, but this year the WIA schedule simply proved to be too difficult to fit in for us. We're going to miss visiting with old and new customers alike, and spending time (always too limited) with our fellow hand-tool enthusiasts, which always proves to be enormously motivational and inspirational. Coming home from WIA always has me personally itching to make furniture and new Benchcrafted products.

The upside to us not attending is this. We're focusing on keeping vises in stock, and getting our newer products on the shelf quicker and more efficiently.

We won't be entirely absent from WIA however. Our good friend Raney Nelson of Daed Toolworks asked us a few weeks ago if we had an extra demo bench we could spare for the show. Well, of course we did, since we won't be there. The bench we sent for the Daed Toolworks booth features our new handwheels on both the tail vise and Glide leg vise, as well as a production prototype of the new Crisscross. If you stop by DTW's booth, do yourself a favor (and be cordial to Raney) and try out his hand-made infill planes before bombarding him with questions about our stuff (he uses Benchcrafted vises in his furniture shop too) That's Raney in the picture at the top.

I've also heard through the grapevine (read, Jeff Miller) that Andy Brownell will be bringing his Split Top Roubo (with our vises) to demo in the Gorilla Glue booth. If you glance over at the big Gorilla Glue sign and think "eh, its just glue" you're doing yourself a disservice. Andy always brings a project to the show (and Andy builds NICE furniture) and works on it in real time for the entire weekend. I'm guessing he'll also have his traveling Anarchist's tool chest along as well. I've seen it. It's gorgeous.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Benchcrafted's Autumn Tent Sale

When we have a tent sale, we do it up right. First we call Ahmed the tent guy, and he comes over in a busted Land Rover, sets up the tent with some cousins. After a short nap, some tea and sweets, he then takes off his 1998 NIB Tommy Hilfiger shirt and Gap jeans, dons his white robe and picnic tablecloth do-rag and sets up to offer the best deals this side of Damascus.

Of course there is no actual Benchcrafted Autumn Tent Sale. But we do in fact have some things that we'd like to sell. And we like tents, incidentally. These are demo vises, or blems, or the only pair of vises that someone has returned to us. Unopened. Um, we're not kidding about the latter. We've had one return since we started this. Yeah, one return. That's one. Just one. Only one. Okay, onto the goods.

Note: All vises listed below feature our previous handwheel (pictured below)

Item #1 SOLD
Tail Vise. Brand new. Unopened. $339

Item #2 SOLD
Glide Leg Vise. Brand new. Unopened. $319

Item #3 SOLD
Glide Leg Vise. Demo (lightly used, no visible or functional wear) $295

Item #4
Glide Leg Vise. Blem (some casting voids on the back side of the handwheel where you'll never see them) $295 SOLD

Item #5 SOLD
Moxon Vise. Blem. Some roughness in the casting. No functional deficits. $129

Item #6 SOLD
Moxon Vise. Blem. Some roughness in the casting. No functional deficits. $129

Item #7 SOLD
Glide Leg Vise. Demo (lightly used, no visible or functional wear) $295

Item #8 SOLD
Glide Leg Vise. Demo (lightly used, no visible or functional wear) Baked flax finish on the handwheel. $295

Item #9
Handwheel knob. These are the rosewood knobs we use on our handwheels (see pic above). These didn't meet spec, but are completely functional with a little TLC. Sometimes the knobs are a tad wet when we turn them, and the hole becomes oblong. A quick pass through with a rat tail file should get them spinning nice. We usually hold onto these and replace every handwheel knob on our shop machines with these, but we've done as much as we can of that. These fit a 3/8 X 1-3/4 shoulder bolt. $6

Item #10
Handwheel knob. Same as item #9, only these fit a 1/2 X 1-3/4 shoulder bolt. $6

Shipping is not included. To buy anything, drop an email to with a list of what you want, and your mailing address. We'll email you a bill for the goods and shipping.

Now, where's Uncle Tannous gone with my Shawarma.....

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Glide Instructions Update

FYI, We've uploaded the latest version of our Glide Leg Vise Instructions. We corrected a couple typos and deleted some superfluous information.

See our downloads page. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Galbert And Zajicek

Its 6 am and I'm rooting through my neighbor's trash. I come across some vinyl records. The album cover says in bold, goldenrod text "Broadway Musicals: Galbert and Zajicek's Greatest Hits."

And then I wake up.

Yesterday I went to bed thinking of two new tools I got in the mail this week. I don't do tool reviews on this blog, but I do occasionally post about tools that excite me.

I got a call from my friend Bob Zajicek earlier this week about a new marking knife he's about to release. The Kerf Kadet Carbide features, wait for it, a carbide blade (didn't see that coming, right?) ground to perfection by Czeck Edge master tool grinders. The knife came razor sharp, and didn't seem brittle like I was expecting it to. It scribed crisp lines across a piece of beech. The blade is .030" thick for getting between skinny pins, or other skinny places. Why carbide? Why not? It holds an edge like, a really long time, so you don't have to sharpen as often. I can sharpen, but I don't ever do it for fun. Does it take a keen edge? Ask Bob about his experience assembling these knives. But don't if you're squeamish. It's sharp.

Call my Czeck (Edge) friend Bob at for more info.

And now for the tool that will change the way I work.

The Chairnotes Travisher

I've been corresponding with Peter Galbert for some years now. Mostly because he builds my favorite modern chairs, but also because I hope I'll become close enough that he'll give me a free chair making lesson. Okay, that last bit is completely untrue. I actually want several lessons. Anyway, a couple months ago, in my measly attempt to convince myself I'm a budding chairmaker, I drew up some Sketchup prints for Peter's Smarthead shaving horse. (I have yet to build one.) In the process, Peter's travisher caught my eye. And I figured that even a budding chairmaker needs a good travisher, so I ordered one from Pete.

Last week it arrived. As I opened the box I knew I had a special tool in my possession. The crisp arrises, flowing curves, velvety walnut, glimmering steel and lustered brass, the entire tool floored me. This collaboration between Peter Galbert and his assistant Claire Minihan (see their initials emblazoned in the tool's throat) has become my new favorite tool.

In fact, just by possessing it, I now feel I can claim the title of master chairmaker. Okay, that's going a bit far. But this is truly one sweet tool. I took some shavings from a piece of dry walnut with the travisher and something hit me. I've never made a chair seat, but I immediately knew that this tool would be seeing some serious use in applying some textural elements to my other furniture work.

But enough talk. Here are some pics of my new travisher. For more info, visit Pete's site Chairnotes Tools.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Glide Instructions Update

We've made a change to the Glide Leg Vise acetal bushing that increases the performance of the Glide when used with the Crisscross. The bushing has always been used for lateral stability (left / right) of the screw. In order to make the installation a smidge easier we're now shipping all Glide vises with our improved bushing. The central hole is now elongated vertically to allow more freedom of movement and wiggle room during the installation process. It's a little tweak, that's it. If you currently use a Glide with a round hole in the bushing, don't think about upgrading. Your current vise will work fine with it. If, however, you will be installing a Crisscross in a Glide with the old bushing, you may want to upgrade. We'll have ordering details shortly before the Crisscross is ready to ship. As always, stay tuned to this blog for all the latest product news here at Benchcrafted.

To download the latest Glide Instructions (page 19 shows the bushing details) visit our downloads page here:

Monday, October 1, 2012

Come to Handworks Next May

Next May a bunch of modern hand tool makers are getting together in a restored dairy barn right in the middle of the communal village of Amana, Iowa. 

This event has been in the making for a few years, and we're excited to be one of the exhibitors. Basically, it's a couple days for all us hand tool enthusiasts (makers and users alike) to get together and talk tools with each other, learn about the maker's wares, enjoy each other's company, get inspired, and, oh yeah, sell and buy some tools! Anyone and everyone is invited, and admission is free. To boot, there are some phenomenal door prizes being given away.

Amana is actually the name of several tiny villages scattered over about a 5 mile swath of Iowa countryside. Amana was established in the 19th century by German immigrants after they came from the old country in search of a place to settle their utopian society. The society actually still exists, albeit in a more tourist-friendly format. In other words, all the old-world crafts are still practiced in the various villages. And there are furniture shops still in business, plus a broom shop, brewery (excellent craft beer!), smokehouse, blacksmith shop, laceworks, and a world-class woolen mill. Follow the Amana Colonies link at the Handworks website for more.

Handworks takes place on May 24-25. There's lots to do in Amana after Handworks, to take advantage of the holiday weekend. Antiquing, museums, functioning craft shops, restaurants, and wineries. Consider bringing your significant other and family to make the best out of the weekend.

Hope to see you there!