Over the holiday weekend and in between rain delays of the mesmerizing Nadal-Federer final, I finished up my Holtzapffel workbench. The last two things to do were the face vise and a shelf under the bench.
For the face vise, I decided to use the Veritas twin screw. It’s about the same price as wooden screws and I liked the prospect of one-handed operation due to the chain drive. This vise requires two support blocks and a chop. Here are the finished pieces:
I made them out of hard maple laminations of 8/4 boards with 4/4 boards. The finished dimensions were 2.5×3.25×12.375 for the support blocks and 2.5×7.5×34 for the chop. I decided not to do the traditional roundover on the chop and fancy support blocks. I like the minimalistic look of these rectilinear blocks and chop.
Since the holes for the screws needed to be accurate, I used a brand new drill press and a 1.5” Forstner bit. I don’t know why I waited to buy a drill press! It was so much easier than boring that dog hole in the end vise with a brace and bit. I’m glad I got the press because as you can see in the photo above, these pieces required a lot of holes.
In the back of the support blocks, the nuts for the screws were mounted. I found out that the orientation of these nuts matters. If you’re not careful, your screw handles can be off by 90 degrees. But more on that later. The support blocks were attached to the bench using the bolts and round nuts shown below.
Using the brace and 3/8” auger bit, I bored the mounting holes through the workbench top.
On the top side, I counterbored with a 1” Forstner bit.
Here are the mounted support blocks:
Next, I lined up the chop and fully tightened the screws. The first time I did this one handle was pointing east-west and the other north-south. Argh! I decided to fix this by removing one of the nuts and rotating it 90 degrees. I don’t know why the instructions don’t say anything about this. It’s probably prudent to mount the nuts after checking the orientation with the screws fully engaged. After making this correction, the screw handles lined up correctly.
Next I attached the chain to the sprockets. My screws were 24” apart center-to-center so no links needed to be removed from the stock chain.
I added some wear strips to the underside of the bench to keep the front jaw from dropping too much as it gets extended.
After installing the chain cover, I found that the chain was dragging against the cover. So, I had to install one of the chain rollers included with the kit.
After installing that, the vise purred like a lovable little robot. To test out the vise I used it to cut some notches for the shelf that was to go in between the stretchers below. The shelf was just a piece of plywood 19.5×42.5. It fit easily between the twin screws!
I couldn’t do that with my crappy workmate! So cool. It was even cooler clamping the shelf horizontally.
The vise had no problem holding up that piece of plywood! What a grip! The one handed operation of this vise made it easy to hold up the plywood with one hand and crank the vise closed with the other. Sweet! I added the hold down below and finished cutting the notches.
Well, that was the last piece of the Holtzapffel puzzle.
I hope you all enjoyed watching me make my first workbench. I learned so much in building it and really enjoyed the experience. I’m ecstatic at how it turned out and how well it works for so many different tasks.
I have a coffee table I want to make in the remaining summer months before starting a guitar making class at Red Rocks. I look forward to blogging about that class in the fall. Stay tuned!