FAQ: Frequently Asked Question

Frequently Asked Questions about Benchcrafted Products

Benchcrafted Tail Vise

Can I install it on either end of my bench? Is the vise handed?
The Tail Vise is universal and can be configured for left-end or right-end use by simply assembling the sliding plate and nut accordingly. Changing the vise from right-hand to left-hand is a quick, easy process. It's covered in the Tail Vise Installation Instructions. See our Videos page for the assembly video.

∙ Why "tail" vise, I thought this was called a "wagon vise"?
The Benchcrafted Tail Vise is indeed a "wagon"-style vise, meaning it uses a traveling dog block trapped within the top. It is also a "tail" vise since its mounted on the "tail end" of the bench. Others call it an "end vise". Hey, we had to pick something!

 ∙ Round dogs or square?
We like square, but that's an old debate. Read our testimony here.

Which way does the sliding plate assembly thread onto the screw?
The nut block faces the back of the handwheel. Read more.

I have a V1 version with the curved nut block, can I still get the instructions and templates?
Email us and we'll send them to you.

Can I install the vise in a thinner or thicker top?
You can install the vise in any thickness top by shimming down the rails or recessing them deeper. You'll also need to have a minimum 4" thick end cap to mount the vise flange. Read more.

How long are the guide rails, and how much overhang do I need to accommodate the vise? How long is the screw past the flange?
The rails are 18" long. Make your overhang at least 18 1/2" so that last half inch covers the end of the rails. It's an aesthetic touch, not functionally necessary. The screw threads are 16" (nominal) past the inside of the flange. 

How do I make square dog holes in my existing bench top?
You don't. Square dog holes (actually angled dadoes with a step) are milled into the edge of the top during construction. Read more.

What glue do I use to attach the leather to the vise jaws?
Any glue will work. But we like to use a water-based contact cement (solvent based is fine too, but it gives us a headache.) Read more.

∙ Should I counterbore (recess) the flange bolt nuts on the inside of the end cap?
You can, but it makes installation much more finicky. We don't bother, since the chances that you'll ever need to open the vise that extra bit are pretty much zero.

Do you have any videos showing how to install the Tail Vise?
Please see our videos page for more info.

∙ What size do I make my dogs?
Here's a print directly from our Split Top Roubo bench plans. Click here.

Glide Leg Vise (Original Version Only)

What is the pin in the parallel guide for? (Original Glide Only)
The steel pin is placed in the hole nearest the leg when the vise opening is close to your workpiece thickness. The pin prevents the bottom half of the vise from racking and is essential to secure holding. If you need to hold workpieces less than 1/4" thick, remove the pin entirely. 

∙ Can I buy a parallel guide pin with a handle already attached? (Original Glide Only)
No. It's up to you to make a handle for the pin, just like the rest of the wood components of the vise. You don't need a lathe either. You can drill a hole in your handle stock for the pin, then shape it by hand with planes, rasps, spokeshaves, or whatever tool you have at your disposal. See our videos page for how we do it.

∙ How thick do I need to make my chop? (Original Glide Only)
We've used 1-3/4" all the way up to 3". They both work fine. The thinner chop will give you a little more gradual pressure when approaching final position. 

Classic Leg Vise

My vise parts are a dull black/gray and have some marks on them. Is this right?
The parkerized finish may arrive with a dull grayish cast. This is normal. There may also be some white marks that look like scratches on the parts. This is from handling the parts when we package them. The surface is sandblasted and easily takes light scuff marks.This is normal, and intended. The look of the vise is intended to reflect a vintage, patinated aesthetic, so feel free to leave it as is when you unpack it. The vise pictured above (and elsewhere on our site) was rubbed down with 0000 steel wool and lightly oiled, as per the instructions on page 11 of the Classic Installation Instructions. As you use and handle the vise, it will develop a patina of its own. As with any steel part, you will want to protect it from rusting with a light oil. The parkerizing helps, but a thin coat of oil is part of the finish, and will need to be refreshed periodically. If you use the vise frequently, your natural hand oils should be sufficient. You can also apply a drying oil to the exposed areas of the parkerized parts (do not apply any drying finish to the dished part of the flange or hub.) We recommend Tru-Oil. Whatever you apply to the sliding handle will eventually wear off with normal use, including the parkerized finish. We designed the finish so it will rapidly develop a vintage, classic look. 

 Crisscross Solo and Retro

Glide M & C

∙ I have an older Glide Leg Vise, can I install the Crisscross with it?
Yes. The Crisscross can work with any leg vise. You may need to remake the chop however. You will also need to modify your acetal bushing. Read more.
Also, see our videos page for a video on how to retrofit an original Glide with a Crisscross Retro.

 ∙ My Crisscross arrived with a black finish, is this normal?
Yes, Crisscrosses are now finished with flat black coating to prevent rust. It's purely a rust preventative measure

 ∙ The pins fit tightly in the holes in my Crisscross, is this normal?
The coating may get into some of the holes to more or less of a degree, this is normal. If your pins are tight, simple run a 3/8" drill bit through the holes a couple times (hold the part in a vise, not your hand) to clear away any excess finish.

 ∙ Should I buy a Solo or a Retro?
Solos work best if you can drill the leg and chop mounting pin holes on a drill press, and that means getting your leg onto the press table. So, assembled benches are out. In that case, buy the Retro. Instead of drilling holes for mounting pins you'll fit Retro brackets inside the leg and chop mortise. You can of course use a Retro on a new bench if you'd rather install the brackets instead of the mounting pins. We recommend the Solo for new benches because its quicker and less expensive to install than the Retro.

 ∙ After installing the Crisscross, the chop meets the leg at the top of the bench, but there is a gap between the chop and the leg towards the bottom. What's wrong?
This is called toe-in, and is built into the vise. It's a sign that you've installed the Crisscross correctly. Toe-in ensures that the vise closes first at the top. This allows the vise to hold firmly. The gap at the bottom should be 1/8"-1/2" depending on your chop height and how you installed the Crisscross. The distance is not important as long as your vise works properly and holds well. See the installation instructions for more details. Read more here.

∙ I'd like to install the Crisscross on a Moravian-style bench, or an English-style Nicholson bench, will the Crisscross work if I install it at an angle, or tilted to one side?
Yes. We tested the Crisscross during development on a bench with an angled leg vise. You can tilt up to 15 degrees, but beyond that you loose more of the weight-supporting function of the Crisscross, so the vise won't open and close as effortlessly as in a vertical installation. The further you tilt off vertical, the more weight is placed on the screw, the more friction you'll get. On a similar topic, angled leg vises offer better holding for working the ends of wider boards, but we think a Moxon vise does this infinitely better than a leg vise, so we never bothered developing bench designs with angled leg vises. 


  General Vise Info

 ∙ Do I need to lubricate the vises?
Yes, but very sparingly. Only use lubrication when a thorough cleaning and a check for interference with wood components have not freed the mechanism. We clean our vises at our shop about once a year with a blast of compressed air in the nut threads and along the screw, followed by a very light coat of WD-40-type lubricant. Don't use grease, or wax of any sort. It will attract dust and make things worse. Our screws are precision rolled, and thus very smooth and polished. They don't need much help to work smoothly. Keeping them clean is the most important "lubricant" you can use.

∙ Won't the unpainted parts of the vise rust? 
Yes they can, but so can many of the tools in a woodworking shop. Treat the vises as you would a table saw top, jointer beds or cast iron hand planes. In other words, keep moisture away, and keep surfaces waxed or oiled. You don't need much. We keep our shop climate controlled, but we don't go crazy with it. Just keep it warm enough that condensate doesn't get a chance to form. The cast iron handwheels will, over time and use, develop a wonderful rich brown patina from skin oils, like one sees on old machinery or old iron hand planes. If you'd like to treat your wheels to prevent this, or to prevent rust, you can apply a boiled linseed oil finish to the wheels. This will protect them from moisture and maintain their look for a longer period. It will wear off with use though. We recommend keeping them natural and letting a patina form. If you go with a linseed finish, you will want to do some research first. Old recipes for finishing iron include beeswax and turpentine, and sometimes warming the finish and the part itself. Just keep things light and you should be fine. If you want to freshen up the rim of the wheel spin it around with one hand and with the other hold maroon or gray Scotch-Brite against the surface. Follow links below for more info.
     Cold Bluing Handwheels
     Baked Flax Finish

 ∙ What about the pores and surface irregularities on my vise?
Our handwheels are made in the heartland of America from cast gray iron. Due to the nature of the sand casting process, there may be some slight porosity and irregularities visible in the surfaces of the handwheels. We reject castings with glaring or functional defects, but many small marks we not only allow to pass quality control, we actually like to see a bit of in our machined castings. Quite a bit of human effort, machine time, natural resources, and energy go into each handwheel we make. Although we're not tree-huggers, we do feel that unwarranted disregard for these factors would be irresponsible on our part. We're also not snobs about needing everything to be perfect. We like patina and slight distress. That's why we now run every handwheel through a vibratory finishing process to ease edges and take the sharp areas down to a more tactile level. The result is a handwheel with just enough character to look almost like a hand-forged piece. This look fits perfectly with the aesthetic of the classic woodworking benches our vises were designed around. 

∙ When I try to assemble the handwheel to the screw, the groove pin doesn't stay in place.
We can send you a replacement pin, but the best solution is to simply put the pin in a vise about half way, then tap the exposed end with a hammer a couple times to put a slight bend in the pin. Easy now, just a slight bend! Before driving the pin in finally, add a couple drops of Loctite to keep it in place. This will keep the pin in place when you re-assemble the handwheel. 

∙ Can I swap out my discontinued handwheels for the new ones? 
No. They won't fit. You should buy a new vise, and sell or give away your old one.

∙ What if I can only purchase one vise right now, which one should I get?
The short answer is the Tail Vise. Read more.

∙ Can I install the vises in a bench other than a Roubo-style? 
Sure. The tail vise will fit in any top. You'll need to add an end cap and possibly dog hole strips. Write to us if you're replacing a traditional tail vise with a Benchcrafted. The Leg vise needs a leg flush with the front of your top to work to maximum effectiveness, but its not necessary. Otherwise you'll loose capacity equal to the distance your leg sets in from the edge of your top. 

Split-Top Roubo Bench Plans:

∙ What's my total cost to build the bench? 
The Benchmaker's package includes everything you need except wood. So the total cost depends on how efficiently you select your stock and your local lumber prices.

∙ How much lumber do I need to buy to build the Split Top Roubo? 
The bench itself uses just under 100 board feet of lumber. We usually purchase about 150 board feet of 8/4 stock if we can select each board carefully. Some lumber yards won't let you do that. In that case we order 200 board feet and use the surplus for shop projects. Read more. 

∙ I don't like the split top, I'd rather have a solid, one-piece top, can I do it?
 Of course. Just ignore the rear top section and build a full-width front section. Simple as that.

∙ What species should I build it out of?
Short answer? Whatever you want. There are pluses and minuses to any species. We like soft maple as a generally available choice with good durability and workability. Ash, hard maple, southern pine, beech, all good choices. Read more.

∙ What's the large hole at the top of the right leg for?
It's an access hole. You insert a finger to push up the dog that lands directly above it. 

∙ Why no cut list?
Because they can introduce errors by promoting complacency. Blindly cutting parts without a firm grasp of what the part is and what its function is means you're not really building the bench, but trying to make a kit of parts that will hopefully fit together. It's much better to analyze each stage of construction and understand what the parts are before committing valuable stock. Cut lists are fine, as long as you make one up yourself from the plans.

∙ Can I make the bench shorter than 87"?
Yes. Just make sure you alter your dimensions properly. Mostly you'll need to make the long rails shorter, and this will affect the dog hole spacing. You can also reduce the overhang at the left end of the bench to keep a wider footprint for the base. Don't change the overhang at the Tail Vise end. To add stability on this end (if you drastically shortern the bench) you can offset the right rear leg so its closer to the end of the bench. You'll need to make angled stretchers on the right end assembly. Best way to make the changes is to make a full-size story stick or drawing with the new dimensions right on it. Then you can refer to this in real time when building the bench. Read more.

∙ My parallel-head clamps don't fit between the tops, how did that happen?
We built the prototype Split Top Roubo with the original Bessey K-body clamps in mind. The new ones (and other brands) are wider. You should build your bench to fit the clamps you have. If you already built your bench and the gap is too narrow and you'd like to make it wider, simply run the front edge of the rear top section over your jointer until your gap is wide enough.

∙ How long will it take to build it? 
From the time you start, until the time you finish. Seriously, everyone works at a different pace and with different equipment. Take your time, enjoy the process and you'll be rewarded with a lifetime bench.

∙ Your bench just looks like a Roubo bench with a couple extra features, why the special plans? 
We wanted our vise customers to be able to build an excellent bench using our vises, without having to adapt them to others' plans. Benchcrafted vises were designed on a Roubo style bench, so it makes sense that we would offer a Roubo-style around our vises.
Shaker Bench Plans:

∙ Why build the Shaker instead of the Roubo?
Because you want a Shaker-style bench. Reason enough. Read this for more. 

∙ The plans show the original Glide with parallel guide. How do install a Glide Crisscross?
See the Crisscross installation instructions for details. In a nutshell, you'll need a longer and thicker chop to house the Crisscross. The "Glide Leg" can house the Crisscross as-is, simply follow the Crisscross installation instructions.

∙ Where do I get the hardware (hinges, nails, screws, etc.) to build the Shaker Bench?

3" H-hinge (four pair req.)
These are the hinges to hang the four front doors. We use Acorn brand hinges. A good source for these is Historic Housefitters. Item #433-3.

4" H-hinge (one pair req.)
These are the two hinges to hang the leg vise access door. We use Acorn brand hinges. A good source for these is Historic Housefitters. Item #434-3.

Another source for H hinges is Horton Brasses. They have excellent quality brass hinges, as well as hand-forged. More expensive than the machine-made Acorn brand hinges, but exquisite quality.

1/2" X 6" Lag Screw (five req.)
Used to attach the end cap to the benchtop.

We use Spax brand, which are widely available. They are properly heat treated and have deep, crisp threads. You can use hardware or big-box store lags, but they are low quality, soft, with blunt, shallow threads. You can get Spax lags individually at Menards stores (upper midwest) better contractor supply houses, Fastenal, and online at places like McFeely's. 
Square head, black oxide lag bolts would also look nice here. Available from Blacksmith Bolt.

5/16" X 3 1/2" Lag Screw (six req.)
Used to attach the benchtop to the cabinet base (four), and for the roller bracket mounting block (two). The latter two are not required if you're using a Glide Crisscross.
Sources,  see above 

5/16" X 4" flat head cap screws (five req.)
These machine screws are used to attach the deadman rail to the front of the cabinet. Available from industrial supply houses like Grainger and Fastenal (both found in all major cities) and well-stocked hardware stores such as Ace. Also available from Bolt Depot. You can also use different fasteners for this application, like lag bolts. Square head, black oxide lag bolts would look nice here. Available from Blacksmith Bolt.

Galbert Drawsharp:

∙ I ruined the double stick tape as I was attaching the diamond pads, what do I do?
Glue the diamond pads directly onto the sleeves using gel CA (Super) glue, or contact cement. A couple dots per pad is sufficient. The super glue can be a tad messy if you over apply it. Contact cement is a more relaxed approach. You don't need to specifically use double-stick tape, we simply package it with the Drawsharp for the customer's convenience. If you have a Rehab kit, we instruct customers to install the four diamond pads the same way.

To see a video on how to properly apply the diamond pads with double stick tape, see here




∙ Mounting?
Mag-Bloks should always be mounted into a stud or solid surface.  When mounting to drywall with no stud available you must use drywall anchors, we like the E-Z Anchor style.  

Mounting to ceramic or stone surfaces can be done a few different ways.  You can, of course use anchors again.  If you'd prefer not to drill, we have had good results using 3M VHB (Very High Bond) mounting tape (other brands have similar products).  We cannot vouch however for it's use other than what the manufacturer specifies.

∙ Can I mount the Mag-Blok vertically?
 No. Due to magnetic polarity and other factors, we don't recommend it. 

How much weight will they hold?
It depends on the object. Thicker, wider objects like cleavers will hold incredibly well. Thinner, rounder objects, like a sharpening steel won't hold as well. We engineered the Mag-Blok to hold a wide variety of knives and tools. Experiment, but be safe. The Mag-Blok was designed for small hand tools and kitchen knives.

∙ How do get the magnets in there?!
We started growing the trees for Mag-Bloks about 30 years ago, training the saplings to grow precisely around the magnets. Just kidding. If we told you, we'd have to, um, you know the rest. 

∙ My knife won't stick!
It's probably made from stainless steel. Think about getting some better quality knives with more carbon content. Carbon means quality-- edge retention and fine grain for a keen edge. Many of our dealers will be quite eager to sell you an excellent knife. A knife that may well amaze you. Check out some of them on our homepage.

∙ Will you make a Mag-Blok from my piece of wood?
It depends. We may be able to. Drop us an email.