Workbench Build #16: Leg Vise Install

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Blog entry by Mark Kornell posted 12-11-2014 07:02 AM 3634 reads 2 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 15: Leg Into Top Mortises Part 16 of Workbench Build series Part 17: Mortising the legs »

If figured it would be better to work on the vise install on the leg before the bench was assembled. Heeding my own advise, I read and re-read the install instructions again before I started.

First thing I realized was that the leg vise install is as much about the chop as it is about the leg. Makes sense – a vise isn’t much with just one surface :-) So I glued up a board to use as the chop:

The chop needs to be at least 2 1/2” thick and I all have is 8/4” boards, hence the need for the lamination.

After that, I started laying out the relevant things on the leg. Got a phone call and that was it for the day, had to go and do a bunch of non-woodworking things.

And I woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. That’s very unusual, so I tried to figure out what my subconscious was trying to tell me. Finally realized I had laid out the vise details on the wrong leg!!!!!!!!!!!!! Damn, that was close.

First thing this morning, laid out the details on the correct leg.

Drill for the Crisscross pin first. I drilled as far as I could on my drill press first to ensure I’d get a straight hole. The drill press’ travel is only 3” or so, I needed something extra to make it all the way through.You do have a long drill bit, right?

To route the long mortise for the Crisscross, I used green masking tape to outline the borders and then freehand routed most of the cavity.

In retrospect, the green tape was a lousy choice. It caught and tore too easily.

After freehand routing, I used my edge guide to get straight sides. Chisel work to square up the ends.

For the bushing, I went back to the white masking tape. Freehand route most of it and chisel the remainder. The white tape works much better.

The board for the chop was workable by this time so I squared it up and resawed it down to ~3””

It may not be obvious from this pic, but the two pieces of walnut are distinctly different colors. I’m hoping that effect will not detract from the eventual look of the chop.

After laying out the relevant details on the chop, I drilled for and installed the vise screw/flange/handle.

Interestingly, the kit used machine thread fasteners instead of screws or lags. That means you have to drill and tap the holed for the flange, bushing and nut. Not sure why this is, as the wagon vise guide rails install with screws. Fortunately, I have a tap and die set.

To drill the hole for the vise screw, I first drilled a pilot hole. Then I used a forstner bit to drill from each side, hopefully meeting in the middle. Not quite, the screw end up being off-center on the hole in the back:

Turns out to be 1/16” off center, so I decide to cut 1/8” off the fat side of the chop. This is because I want the cavity for the Crisscross to be centered so I can route it like this:

After routing this same cavity in the leg, I realize I can improve the process. First, no need for free-handing. Second, I only need the tape at the ends. It makes the end of the mortise more visible through the shroud. Third, I can set the edge guide for the far wall of the mortise. Advantages – better router balance, fewer chances for mistakes, and I can waste away the middle part of the cavity without changing router bases.

After routing, chisel the ends square:

And then assemble everything per the instructions.

One thing I picked up on was the vise travel. Or limitations thereon. Because I have a thick legs and a thick chop and the screw is only so long, I will be limited to about 6 1/2” of travel.

If I find that a limitation, I can recess either the nut on the leg or the flange on the chop. Or both.

And here it is in upright configuration:

Even like this, the screw freely spins. I got 4 or 5 revolutions with a sharp pull on the wheel.

At this point, I’ll take the wheel/screw and Crisscross off and put them aside until I’ve got the rest of the bench assembled. I need to shape the chop, too. I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I want it to look like, hope I can pull it off.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

5 comments so far

View yuridichesky's profile


624 posts in 2201 days

#1 posted 12-11-2014 08:47 AM

Very interesting illustration of the construction, great reading for work bench builders.

For the lack of drill press whenever I need to make a dead perpendicular through hole I mark up it from the both sides of the part being drilled and then hand drill from both ends using long drill bit so that holes meet approximately in the middle. Works good enough for me.

-- Yuri (10x4 -- yeah, that's my tiny shop!)

View tsangell's profile


216 posts in 2930 days

#2 posted 12-11-2014 01:12 PM

Recess the nut, and flip it. You’ll gain travel equal to the total height of the nut. Nobody says the nut has to be flush with the face of the leg, either. For more travel, you can sink a cavity into the back of the leg and mount the nut even closer to the chop.

View CL810's profile


3887 posts in 3225 days

#3 posted 12-11-2014 01:17 PM

The criss cross is hard to beat. You made this look easy. ;-)

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

View terryR's profile


7462 posts in 2545 days

#4 posted 12-11-2014 02:52 PM

Awesome display!
That’s quite a vise!

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View stefang's profile


16209 posts in 3571 days

#5 posted 12-11-2014 04:53 PM

Excellent work. Lucky you got called away when you did. I do my best woodworking thinking when I should be sleeping.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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