I decided at this point that I should install the front and end vises with their wooden jaws prior to surfacing the top. So, my son and I (remember, 150 pounds or so) flipped the benchtop on its back, and I made sure the vise mounting spots were relatively flat and square to the edges. Then it was time to construct the wooden jaws, and obviously, whitewood would never do for this application. The only logical choice seemed to be maple, which is not available as a locally-produced wood.
Now at a real lumberyard, I priced soft maple and selected two pieces. I purchased an 11’ length of 8/4 maple 6” wide (the shortest they had), and an 8’ length of 4/4 6” wide. The total purchase price? $78.78.
Well, the deed was done, and it was time to make the jaw blocks. After planing, I rough-cut four pieces of 8/4 to 19” long, These were then mated to make two jaw blocks about 3.5” thick:
I DID have the presence of mind this time to use biscuits along one edge to ensure alignment, which kept creep to a minimum and made later surfacing much easier. After the glue dried, I cleaned up the remaining squeeze-out, trued the edges, and cut to a final length of 18".
Drilling the screw and guide rod holes in these (expensive) blocks was nerve-wracking. After positioning the mounting block on the underside of the bench and transferring the hole locations to the jaw blank, I stood poised at the drill press with the lever in my hand, knowing that if I messed this up...
Fortunately, all went well, since the second jaw worked out as well as its cousin in the above photo. All that remained was to sand a roundover on the two outside corners of each jaw. I know many folks include a slight rabbet step with their roundovers, but all I wanted was a friendly corner that wouldn't hurt my leg when I ran into it. BTW, the oily fingerprints on the wood are residual grease from handling the vise hardware. I was planning on an oil finish anyway!
More to come.
-- Robert - Visit my woodworking blog: http://littlegoodpieces.wordpress.com