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Building my Workbench #15: Little More Progress, Nearly Done

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Blog entry by HokieKen posted 07-24-2017 12:03 PM 2593 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 14: Not Much but Right-Side-UP!! Part 15 of Building my Workbench series no next part

Well, I got some time in the shop this weekend. I split it about 50/50 between my Beer Swap project and my bench. Just wanted to post a quick update on where I’m at.

Now that everything is assembled and pinned, it’s time to get to work on the “fun”stuff… well mostly. First up was to get the end vise back on. Now, this is the one part of my build I’m not totally satisfied with. There’s just too much slop in this hardware for a chop as long and heavy as the one I’m using.

With the hardware being off center, the chop wants to lean to the long side. The fit between the guide rods and the bushings and bracket isn’t tight enough to prevent it. For now, it’s functional for sure. And it works well with the dogs so I’m going to leave it as-is until I finish everything else up and then come back to it. I figure I have a few options:
  • Shorten the chop up and make a Moxon for when I need to clamp up on wider things.
  • Make another front jaw with an attached “bracket” with tightly machined nylon bushings for the guide rods to prevent sagging. Problem with this is that it will reduce capacity.
  • Add an auxiliary guide rod on long end. Not sure how effective this would be.
  • Go with it for a while. If it’s okay, great. If not, buy new hardware. This is the obvious solution if you’re not a cheap-ass.

So, we’ll see how that goes. For now, what you see is what you get. Next up was a final dry-fit of the leg vise before finishing it up. It turned out to work like buttahhhh… going in. But it would bind up coming out. When the screw started to move the chop out, it would tilt the chop and the parallel guide would bind. I had hoped if I was careful and precise during the build that I could get by with only the parallel guide. No such luck. So, I made a guide roller with parts from my “someday I might need one of these doo-hickeys” bucket and mounted it on the inside of the leg. Worked like a charm. I’m plum tickled pink with everything about the leg vise :-)))

Once I knew I was happy with the function, I trimmed it flush with the benchtop, glued a piece of leather on the top, finished shaping/sanding it and slapped a couple of coats of BLO on.

I’ll consider that part complete for now. At some point, I’m probably going to modify it to use a handwheel but I’m holding off on that until I stumble across something really cool and unique at a junkyard or antique store.

Next thing is my Dawgs. I actually made a few of these a while back to use during the build but I wasn’t sure I would use them as-is. But they’ve held up well and I think I’ll make a couple more the same way. They seem to be solid and effective and most importantly, cheap ;-P

In the end vise, you can see holes above the hardware I cross drilled to the dog holes so I can put my finger in and slide them up.

The dogs are made using some brass bullet catches and leather from an old pair of shoes.

The ones used in the bench top shown above are made from Oak dowel from the big blue box store. The ones in the end vise shown below are made from some Ironwood I turned down on the lathe.

Next, I cut some plywood to go into the tool wells for now. I will make a thinner piece for the side nearest the end vise (3/4” ply is overkill and reduces the depth too much) and I plan to make an insert for the other well that will hold chisels, saws, layout tools etc. Just can’t quite decide on the best design for that yet so for now, it’s just getting a plywood bottom too.

The final thing I got done was poking some holes in the leg opposite the leg vise for holdfasts. I got the Gramercy holdfasts for Christmas. I liked what I had read and for the price, thought they were an excellent value. I did have some issues when I tested them in the bench top with slipping. I could pull up with my hand and they would pop loose pretty easily. A little Googling turned up a FAQ page from Gramercy that recommended using some coarse sandpaper and sanding AROUND the shanks not up and down. I did so and, Bob’s your uncle!

I drilled 3 holes through the leg starting at 8” down from the bench top on 8” centers. This lets me get anything from the floor to the top of the bench with a holdfast. I can always add holes if I find I need them for dogs or other accessories. But I’ll wait until I need them before I poke them.

So what’s left? Well, like I said, the end vise isn’t done. But, it’s usable so I probably won’t tackle the re-do for a while. As mentioned I need to make the final tool well inserts when I decide on a design. The leg vise is ready to rock as soon as my oil cures so I’ll pop that back in place then. I have a few more bullet catches so I’ll make a few more dogs and use them up too.

At present, my goal is to get finish on the rest of the bench. Before doing so, I need to remove an ass-load of pencil marks from the top. I thought I was going to just wipe it down with acetone but that didn’t work so well. An eraser works but takes way too long. So, card scraper it is! Once I get all the pencil off, I’ll put some finish on it and on the long stretchers.

As a side note, I’m thrilled with the stability of this air-dried Oak. I flattened the top back in the fall and when I finally got it flipped back over and installed last week, it’s still flat except for the same low spot on the front left corner which I had identified back when I flattened it. There was also no twist in it. Hurray!

Once I get the finish on, I’ll make some French cleat to go on the back of the bench and make some holders for tools I like to keep handy all the time. I want them modular and removable though for times when I need the full bench width plus some overhang for larger projects.

After that, a ship-lapped shelf for the bottom. Eventually there will be a bank of drawers down there but it’s not necessary right now and after a year, it’s about time I quit working on my bench and use it to make some things and justify its existence! ;-P

Thanks for dropping by. If you have any suggestions on the benchtop toolholding insert or ideas on how to tighten up the end vise, I’d love to hear them. Any other comments, critiques or suggestions are welcome as always!

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!



15 comments so far

View hokieman's profile

hokieman

180 posts in 3570 days


#1 posted 07-24-2017 03:27 PM

Looks great. Just like something a Hokie engineer would do. My wife laments that my work bench is our most expensive piece of furniture.

View KelleyCrafts's profile

KelleyCrafts

2668 posts in 555 days


#2 posted 07-24-2017 04:11 PM

That’s awesome Kenny. I would like to see the leg vice front hardware when you get it mounted. The castor was a genius idea. I like that one a lot.

You should be proud of that one. I would be please as punch to walk out to one like that in my shop.

-- http://kelleycrafts.com/ - pen blanks - knife scales - turning tools

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

4464 posts in 955 days


#3 posted 07-24-2017 05:03 PM

Thanks hokieman. My wife can’t really complain about the cost, I have less than $250 in the build. I guess she can complain about how long it’s taking me though :-/ Hokie-Hi!!

Dave, I’ll show leg vise details after I get it put on. It’s just a tail vise screw from Lee Valley aside from the parallel guide and castor though. I do get a little excited when I walk out and see it sitting there ready to be used :-)

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View duckmilk's profile

duckmilk

2500 posts in 1141 days


#4 posted 07-24-2017 11:44 PM

Nice Kenny! Yes, you should put it to work…making that bank of drawers ;-)

I’ve seen (somewhere) someone using square wooden guide rods to help with alignment of an end chop. Might help with the sag of yours on the right end. But maybe steel rod riding in a bushing might be more effective.

-- "Duck and Bob would be out doin some farming with funny hats on." chrisstef

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

4464 posts in 955 days


#5 posted 07-25-2017 12:59 AM

I’ve seen the Nicholson vise Duck. It’s like mine but with the square wooden guides and just a screw. I was leaning toward the steel rod and bushing on the right side. But, that takes away my ability to clamp up wide boards so it’s no better than just cutting the chop down. I think I’m going to leave it as-is for a few months and see if it’s really even an issue at all.

I’m probably gonna wait until I can score some free plywood for the drawers. I’m pretty proud to say I have only invested $230 in this bench including wood, both vises and holdfasts. If I can finish it out with a bank of drawers for less than $250, my tight-wad street cred will go through the roof ;-p

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

1075 posts in 398 days


#6 posted 07-25-2017 08:47 AM

Your bench is really shaping up, Kenny. Nice work, and I like the plan to leave the vise and see if it’s really a problem in use. Best not to fix what ain’t broken.

-- Dave - Minneapolis

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

4464 posts in 955 days


#7 posted 07-25-2017 12:07 PM

Thanks Dave. You’re right, I need to make sure it’s a problem before I fix it. But DANGIT! the Engineer in me says “that’s poorly designed” and the machinist in me says “it will never be precise like that”. Luckily there’s a woodworker in there too hollering “it’s probably good enough, just try it and see!” ;-)

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View theoldfart's profile

theoldfart

9207 posts in 2267 days


#8 posted 07-25-2017 06:08 PM

Bench does look good Ken.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

1075 posts in 398 days


#9 posted 07-26-2017 11:22 AM

I completely get that, Kenny. And maybe you will end up rebuilding or replacing it, but get the bench working and see how much it bugs you then. Heck, you can always tackle it when there are no other projects pending, right? ;-)

-- Dave - Minneapolis

View Woodywazza's profile

Woodywazza

10 posts in 117 days


#10 posted 08-01-2017 12:12 PM

Aaah the leg vice. I am planning to build my own workbench and include a homemade leg vice. The tight-wad in me says it will be cheaper and a nice challenge to tackle. I have seen some blogs that say the screw mechanism can be made from a scaffold “leg leveller” with a bit of lathe work to create the centre and handle. Any words of wisdom fellas?

-- Stand in the mess you made, smell the aroma of wood, nod and smile knowingly!

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

4464 posts in 955 days


#11 posted 08-01-2017 12:24 PM



Aaah the leg vice. I am planning to build my own workbench and include a homemade leg vice. The tight-wad in me says it will be cheaper and a nice challenge to tackle. I have seen some blogs that say the screw mechanism can be made from a scaffold “leg leveller” with a bit of lathe work to create the centre and handle. Any words of wisdom fellas?

- Woodywazza

You could indeed use a scaffold jack screw. However, it would take some modification and the nut’s aren’t very long. I’m not sure but it’s probably got more slop in the threads than I’d want. For an extra $10 or $20, the screw from Lee Valley is good quality and can be used just like it comes. More than worth a few bucks to avoid having to make all the modifications IMHO>

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View Woodywazza's profile

Woodywazza

10 posts in 117 days


#12 posted 08-01-2017 11:32 PM

Thanks so much for your advice Kenny. My problem is that I live on the other side of the globe in the most isolated city in the world, Perth, Australia. Just the cost of freight for items like this double or triple the cost to me. Oh, if it only wasn’t the case! I can get the jack screw for nothing so will persevere at this stage. Thanks again, keep up the good work. Love the forums.

-- Stand in the mess you made, smell the aroma of wood, nod and smile knowingly!

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

4464 posts in 955 days


#13 posted 08-02-2017 11:39 AM

In that case, Woodywazza, I’d go with the jack screw too! Good luck and welcome to the site!

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View GR8HUNTER's profile

GR8HUNTER

2892 posts in 529 days


#14 posted 08-02-2017 02:40 PM

I am loving this bench Kenny ….....looks to me like it will work good for producing swap items MASTERFULLY .... LMAO ….GREAT JOB :<))
cant hardly wait for the centerfold pictures lol

-- Tony Reinholds,Pa. REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

28797 posts in 2683 days


#15 posted 08-02-2017 06:43 PM

This is a nice bench. It will be a great addition to your shop.

helluvawreck aka Charles
http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

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