Our September 2015 Workbench of the Month offers up a very unique vise submitted by Drew W. from New Orleans, Louisiana. Drew has used one of our standard Vise Screw Kits to construct an amazing tool making, joinery and carving vise. The details are provided below and we’ll let you all be the judge as to how fantastic Drew’s vise turned out. Simply tremendous.
Enclosed is a vise I built to accompany my smaller workbench designed as a plane maker’s or toolmaker’s bench. The vise found its inspiration from the antique La Forge Royale carver’s vise, but additionally from Jameel Abraham’s blog featuring the build of a replica. My design is nearly all wood construction with the exception of a few machine screws for the garter and the assembly for the hand wheel.
I had the liberty of using exceptional material that had been air dried for many years. The heavy stock is hickory from a medium sized slab that was discounted because of bug holes. By cutting it into smaller billets, I was able to dodge nearly all flaws and yield beautiful stock for this vise. The other wood specie used is ipe which machined surprisingly well with sharp tools, but best of all, complements the hickory. The jaws are lined with suede and the finish is conversion varnish. The knobs on the handle are lignum vitae, as is the hub of the hand wheel. Threads are tapped directly into the lignum hand wheel, which was a pleasure to execute with the natural oils of the wood lubricating the whole process.
Dimensions are 6” wide, 10” tall, and the vise screw is 24” long. The height elevates work pieces above the bench top to a very comfortable height. The big wood screw means that the vise moves quick, grabs hard with little to no racking, and parts can rest on the threads without getting grease on them.
The nut from the standard kit is captured inside the moving jaw assembly and I had to take extra care to accommodate wood movement between the different types of wood and different grain directions. Parts were dimensioned to their final sizes over the course of weeks to ensure stability post glue-up. If I were building it again, I would use a “T” shaped track for the moving jaw assembly. The dovetail is nice looking and maybe the simplest in design (which is always a goal.) Though, to execute a smooth functioning vise with little slop in the components, the tolerances in the dovetail track were around +/- 0.001” This means that it is a little stiff at 100% humidity and a little loose at 30%.
The vise gets daily use in my shop and has become more than a novelty, playing a vital role in several difficult joinery tasks, and of course, carving.
Drew W. – New Orleans, LA