My Version of the $175 Workbench #4: Top and Vises

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Blog entry by jonah posted 06-13-2014 11:40 PM 2083 reads 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Drilling and Drilling and Drilling Part 4 of My Version of the $175 Workbench series Part 5: Done, but not Finished »

I put the top on and screwed it down. Well, screwed it up from beneath, but you get the idea.

I also put the vises on, thanks to a little help from the missus. Those things are solid cast iron, heavy as hell. I’m betting ~40-50lbs each.

The Kreg bench dogs seem fine so far. You certainly can’t argue with the price ($8 for four) compared to the various brass options from Lee Valley or wherever.

I made my own bench dog to go into the square recess in the vises. The vises came with one of the original steel pop-up bench dogs, but it doesn’t pop up high enough to clear the top of my bench, and the pop-up mechanism isn’t working as well as I would want it to. I just made square maple dogs that fit in the holes and protrude about half an inch above the bench top.

The vise handles are just a ~16” section of 7/8” oak dowel with a small piece of 1.5” dowel glued onto both ends and sanded to where they’re comfortable to hold. The holes in the vise handle are really an inch wide, but 1” dowel is just too snug. I may not have masked them off as well as I needed to when I spray painted them, or they may just be too small for 1” dowel. I decided it was too much work to sand down a 1” dowel to fit, so I just went with the 7/8” dowel.

Drilling the 7/8” hole in the small pieces of 1.5” dowel was tricky, but doable on the drill press with a wood hand screw clamp holding it and regular clamps holding the hand screw to the DP table. I decided to forgo just screwing the cap to the end of the dowel because of looks.

5 comments so far

View Buckethead's profile


3194 posts in 1868 days

#1 posted 06-13-2014 11:45 PM

Some prime workspace there. It’s a beautiful bench. So you’re a lefty?

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View jonah's profile


1702 posts in 3298 days

#2 posted 06-14-2014 12:08 AM

Sure am. I actually had planned on locating my vises in the normal “right-handed” configuration, but the “lefty” configuration actually works better for my space anyway. I don’t plane the edges of long boards much (at least I haven’t in the past very often), but I figured that I might someday. I definitely prefer planing lefty, but like most lefties, I’m comfortable doing it righty as well.

Only things left to do now are flatten the top, sand the top a bit, and throw some finish on it. Do people put finish on their vise faces?

View NormG's profile


6112 posts in 3003 days

#3 posted 06-14-2014 01:12 AM

Wow great bench, I am sure you will get a lot of use out of it

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View Buckethead's profile


3194 posts in 1868 days

#4 posted 06-14-2014 01:44 AM

I think finishing the face of a vise chop is up to you. It will become more slick. Some guys glue on leather or suede, and others use cabinet padding. Both claim excellent results. I haven’t done any of the above yet. I keep procrastinating on cutting my dog holes. I’m chicken.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3333 days

#5 posted 06-14-2014 08:17 AM

Looks very good Jonah. I can relate to your joy as I am just finishing up my own ‘new’ bench and have the face and tail visas installed and almost ready to start using it.

Buckethead I drilled my dog holes yesterday and it was very easy. If you are using square dogs I can understand your procrastination. They are a whole lot more difficult to cut than drilling round holes. Have you considered using round dog holes? lots of folks prefer them. I have had square dogs for the last 30 years, but I think the round dogs will be just as good if not better.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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