Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Crisscross Parts Goofs

Due to an oversight at the factory in Shengzen, we've been shipping out the incorrect type of retaining ring that snaps onto the Crisscross' pivot pin. We just discovered it last week.

The correct e-style retaining ring is pictured above, installed on a pivot pin, installed in a Crisscross.

And here is the correct e-style ring on its own:

The incorrect type of retaining ring is pictured below.

This is the ring that has been mistakenly shipped with several Crisscrosses.

Here's the deal. Both rings work just fine with the Crisscross. We use the e-style ring because is presses onto the pin easily without tools, or with a flat blade screwdriver. The other type with two holes requires a special tool to install, or if you're Jeff Miller, a couple toothpicks and some string.

If you have the incorrect rings, and would like a replacement set of e-style rings, drop us a line at and we'll send you some. If you have the special tool, go ahead and use the wrong style, it won't matter.

Oh, and that bit about Shengzen was a joke. Seriously. Our hardware kits are carefully assembled by a local family-run fasteners supply house. This was a simple typo (our error) that caused the mix up.

The only thing we offer that's made in China is a mean cup of English tea. Earl Gray. Hot.

Friday, June 13, 2014

FORP Update and a French Oak Masterpiece

Earlier this week we traveled to Chicago to catch up with Jeff Miller in his bowling-alley turned furniture-making magic castle.

When we arrived at Jeff's he was busy ripping some styrofoam on the sliding table saw, packing up a couple cherry side tables for a customer in Las Vegas. I commented that I hoped he'd built the chairs in the winter. He replied "I never thought about the humidity levels out there". And you know what? He doesn't need to. Jeff could fit a piston-tight drawer in January, ship it off to Da Nang in July and never get a call back. He's that good.

So when we walked up to Jeff's FORP bench, it was not unexpected when our jaws fell to the floor like a cold steak. But they fell nonetheless.

First off, Jeff departed from the Plate 11 bench a bit by incorporating a wagon vise and a row of square dogs. Jeff has probably installed more Benchcrafted Tail Vises than anyone we know, so its no surprise that his wooden wagon vise shares some features with our vise.

The dog block is tapped to receive the 1-3/4" X 3-1/2 tpi left-hand screw. To install the block into its cavity, Jeff milled some wide rabbets into both the front laminate and the front edge of the rear top section to receive the block, which in turn has rabbets that engage the rabbets in the top. The block slides up from below, stops against the upper rabbets, then two rails are slipped into the lower rabbets in the block and screwed into the top from the inside. The components are massive, which lends great stability to the entire vise. I was shocked when I operated the vise. I felt no resistance along the entire travel of the vise. It was frictionless. And it was wonderful.

The head of the screw itself is fastened to the end cap via a steel two-piece garter that resides in a counterbore behind the shoulder of the screw's head. Jeff tapped the garter for machine screws, the whole assembly goes in from the outside, while the screws pull the garter tight from the inside face of the end cap. When the vise is assembled, there are no visible fasteners, and the garter is completely hidden. If Roubo had designed a wooden wagon vise, this would be it.

The vise hardware was made by Lake Erie Toolworks and smith Peter Ross.

The leg vise is beautifully and meticulously crafted. Jeff played his cards right and waited until winter to fit the forged ring, and many of the other critical elements on the bench.

Jeff fit his leg vise garter perfectly. It slips in and out without friction, and tightens up sweetly as you insert the last quarter inch.

Jeff's bench was truly inspirational to behold. One of the finest benches I've ever seen.

It was a great morning spent in Jeff's shop, reminiscing about FORP almost a year ago now. We're looking forward to getting together again next year to do it all over again. Yes, it's official, FORP II is a go. We've got the wood, and we've got the go ahead from Wyatt Childs. He's thrilled to be hosting the event again. The same group of people will be gathering in Barnesville, GA to make more incredible benches from this incredible material. Myself, Jeff Miller, Raney Nelson, Chris Schwarz, and Don Williams, all have agreed to return.

Please don't send us emails at this time asking for more details. We simply don't have them. We will be posting the official announcement early this fall, and will give advanced warning before we do so. As with last time, it will be first come, first served. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Benchcrafted Hand Forged Holdfast

Based on an extant French holdfast, the Benchcrafted holdfast is hand forged from carbon steel. The holdfast is made in America. 

Made completely by hand using traditional blacksmithing methods, our holdfast grabs quick and releases just as quickly.

Design to work in a 1" hole, the 7/8" diameter shaft is 18" long (13" under the pad)  with a total reach of 8". The pad is 1-1/2" wide. Best used in thick Roubo-style tops.The bench in the video is about 5-1/2" thick. For any holdfast to work properly, the hole must be perpendicular to the top surface.

These are different than the holdfast described and illustrated in Roubo. The pad is more of a square shape, and the profile of the arm terminates in an angular facet on the underside. It's a cool, yet time consuming detail to execute. There are certainly less expensive ways to make a holdfast. We made these because our prototype worked so well, and we liked the look. Simple as that.

Many holdfast shafts are sized to be just a smidge smaller than the hole they were designed for. Our's is 1/8" smaller. Why does this work? The extra room allows the shaft to bite easily into the hole instead of just slipping in and out. Loose tolerances here are the key. A quick bite with rapid and free repositioning after a light tap.

As with all holdfasts, a non-smooth surface on the back and front of the shaft  aids greatly in helping the holdfast to hold fast. These holdfasts have one coat of shellac to protect against rust, and as such the surface is a bit slippery. You should remove the shellac with denatured alcohol, and perhaps scuff the surfaces with some medium grit (150) sandpaper before use.

Price: $199 plus shipping.

To order, send an email to State how many you would like, include your shipping address, and preferred Paypal address and we'll send you a bill.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Studley Chest Exhibit - Ticket Sales Open

Over the weekend the folks at The Barn On White Run opened up ticket sales for the upcoming exhibit of the Studley Tool Chest and Workbench.

The exhibit takes place in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, next May 15-17, 2015.The same weekend as the Handworks event in nearby Amana, Iowa.

As toolmakers, we can't help but be excited! Yeah, its a year away. But if you're like us, you'll get all excited about attending, then forget to buy tickets. You can only buy them online, and when they are gone, they are gone.

Why are we posting about this? Seriously? It's the Studley chest and bench. And its going on exhibit. I can't wait to walk into the exhibit hall and see that gem all aglow under the spotlights. It's going to be magical.

Buy tickets here