Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tool Review: Grammercy Tools Holdfasts

This is the first tool review of many I hope, all centered around accessories and workbench related products. I will give you my honest opinion abut the quality and usefulness of anything I review here. I am not paid to do so, nor do I get free stuff from manufacturers. That being said what better necessity to review than a holdfast.

Not just any holdfast, The Grammercy Tools holdfast. All I can really say is "BUY IT". Buy one , or two, or ten. Best thing ever for a workbench hands down. Every cast iron one I ever had exploded in a matter of days. The Grammercy holdfast is a single piece of bent rolled spring steel, flattened to form the pad on the buisness end. It is hefty beyond belief. With just hand pressure pushing it in place, I was able to lift The Joinery Bench off the ground. WOW!.Best part, they're cheap! $17 for one $32 for two!

So in conclusion, "YOU MUST BUY MANY, MANY, MANY. You will wonder how you ever did without!!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Readers Benches!

My hopes for this blog is to be the place for all things workbench related. I feel that everyone should share their enthusiasm and be able to showcase their hard work. So starting immediately anyone who wants to send me photos, a summary about thier bench, and a brief bio about themselves, I would love to post it here.

Workbenches are the most important tool in our arsenals. It's where every step of whatever project we are working on occurs. It's time to bring them to center stage, so de-clutter your bench, re-flatten your top, and pretty em up and send them to me @ subfuel1@gmail.com

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Slop Rocks!

Forums on the web are filled with people with good questions and phenomenal answers, and no where on the Internet is that more true than the Wood Net forum. Today, Cliff at the forum, who has put me to task on my dual screw leg vise ( thankfully!) addressed an issue that I thought that most people would not consider when constructing an all wooden vise, single or twin.

Slop! When I say that I am talking about achieving the desired amount of " racking " or as he called "pivot" in the vise's chop. An all too desirable function for clamping tapered material, or in a leg vise situation, to minimize the amount of lower screw adjustment.

Easy answer! Drill the holes in the vise chop at least 1/2" bigger than the vise screw. You might think that is large but think about it, that is only 1/4 " per side. So keep in mind that your pivot is dependant on the vise chop holes and bigger is better, well, within reason. I like to thank all of the members on the Wood Net forum, especially Cliff!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Leg Vise: Remastered?

Well, over the last couple of days I was finally able to get downstairs and tackle the Roubo Dual Screw Leg Vise. After scoring some nice Purpleheart leg material from my boys at Asheville Hardware and two days of procrastination (or maybe fear of failure), I glued up my leg blank, flattened, tapered and drilled the screw holes. I will tell you that tapping the legs themselves might not be the best way to do it as my holes were not quite parallel to each other causing me to make adjustment in the holes in the vise leg blank.

The issue that had me boggled was how to adjust the bottom screw guide. to be honest I was going to just use a really short handle until I saw the groovy wagon vises over at the Benchcrafted site, "Hand Crank". OOOOHHHH, I like it a lot, That Jameel Abraham is way outside of the box. Parallel guides with ball bearing rollers? Genius!

Anyway, here are the pics of the vise and a closeup of the hand crank for everyone. I literally just came upstairs after testing it and snapping some photos just so I could get this post up tonight, and by the way, WOOOO HOOOO! I have only played with it for about 30 minutes, but so far it looks definitely like a keeper. So all of you traditional leg vise users, by the time you get the draw bore pin where you want, I will have already been planing, a lot!

PS: As soon as I can get to it, Photos don't do it justice, so I will be posting a video clip of the vise in action.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Roubo Experiment in Terror !

I am taking a couple of days off from "Joinery Bench" related propaganda (which I love!!!) to address something that has cost me a lot of sleep lately. My partially naked bench! My main workhorse is Holzapfel in nature with a ridiculously massive twin screw vice, as well as a quick release vise on one end. (click photo) Most people would be ecstatic with this work holding monster, so forgive me for what I am about to drag you all through, apparently years of lacquer asphyxiation has brought me to this. " THERE ARE TWO SIDES ON MY BENCH DOING NOTHING! Nada-zero-nil-zilch-bupkus, continually mocking me to the point of putting my very manhood in question.

So here's the deal! I'm thinking Roubo redo, wagon and leg vises, dead man to be determined at a later date. But here in lies the biggest workbench thorn of all thorns in my side, damned parallel guides. I mean have you priced draw bore pins lately, pricey is putting it kindly, not to mention the fact that you are locked in to preset increments on the guide.

Dig this! " Duel Screw Leg Vise" There, I said it and I am absolutely serious. There should be no reason that you can't use a separate vise screw where the parallel guide would normally be, I mean imagine if you dare this, micro-adjustability in a Roubo style leg vise. OOOHHH, AAAHHHH. Here I will document my journey into completely re-writing workbench history as we know it, or the birth of a total abomination that will exile me from the woodworking world as we know it, as well as contemplating a new career as a Sherpa.

So far I have tapped the legs on my bench to accept the screws, yes I said tapped the legs! I make all of my bench screws, so I whipped up two that are 18" long. Excessive?, Always! I currently don't have a lathe, so I glued up a 3"x3" walnut blank and grabbed a spokeshave to make the hubs, which surprisingly only took about 30 minutes to make "square", "round". Then the 1" hole to accept the handle, and a 1 1/2" hole in the end to accept the shaft of the vise screw. Unlike one piece screws that can be found more and more these days, mine are two piece so I can use any wood species I want for the hub portion. I also prefer a steeper thread pitch, roughly 4 to 5 threads per inch, the steeper angle creates greater clamping pressure with less force than a 2 tpi screw. Check the photo to see where I am so far. I will be posting more progress tomorrow. (I hope)

Saturday, February 13, 2010


No!, I meant "vice" as spelled. As I have decided to start a new blog as a departure from my Wood Therapy blog. This one is more for selfish purposes as i hope to use these posts as a sounding board for those who are as obsessed with workbenches as I have become, hence the "vice " in the title.

I recently sent Chris Schwarz at Woodworking Magazine some photos of a prototype bench I had built that was small in size and tall in height that I had called a micro-bench thinking he might get a chuckle out of, except he failed to see the humor in it, in fact he was quite excited about the idea.

He proceeded to give me a short history lesson on smaller benches through the ages and the fact that some chair makers used taller benches. Several e-mails later he suggested we post it on the magazines web blog and I agreed. So the Joinery Bench came to light ( Chris named it the joinery bench and I love it) and the response has been incredible. I never thought that something that started out of necessity would spark such interest.

The idea for this endeavor came in stages. In preparation for a recent hand cut dovetail demo at Asheville Hardware I had been hand cutting dovetails non-stop as it had been a while since I had cut any. As many of you can attest to, in no time at all my back was in knots. I figured there had to be a better way that was more ergonomic than crouching down or sitting, which is less painful but detrimental to line of sight, power and controlling a hand saw.

My second concern was if enough people attended the demo would everyone be able to see what I was trying to show them with a seven foot long workbench. There was a possibility that if a fair number of people came to see me that some would have to stand on the other end opposite of where the vise I would be using was located.

It has snowballed into something even bigger, I mean this would be an amazing tool for anyone that has a limited amount of space at their disposal. I also think for those who do smaller projects, such as making boxes, it would be perfect. I have the joinery bench set next to my Holzapfel bench. I do all of my joinery at the smaller bench then do all of my larger tasks such as planing at the larger one.

In the coming days and weeks there will be posts here on the Joinery Bench as I plan on doing an extensive text and photo article (magazine style) on constructing it. There is a 3-d sketchup model that will be posted on the Woodworking Magazine web blog this week, even though all of my woodworking accomplices see dollar signs at the prospect of selling plans and landing magazine articles about the bench, I think this is something that needs to be out there for those needing a solution to their joinery woes. Besides for those who like the bench but do not want to build one, it is going to possible to buy either the bench or just the vise screws through Asheville Hardware in Asheville NC very soon.

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