Friday, July 10, 2015

Bench mutterings

You may remember that a few months ago, I went over my small joiner bench to addressed some issues.
There was a perceptible dip in the middle of the bench, both ends were standing slightly proud of the frame. I carried out some maintenance and made sure everything was tight and square. Took apart the vintage leg vise and it also got straighten some and applied a quick finish to blend in the repairs.

I was planing to resurface the top, after waiting a few months for it to adapt itself to its environment (translation, wait for it to do its stupid wood trick) Well it has NOW been a few months from the dry winter months to the cool but humid summer months in the basement. Any time now, I should be running my dehumidifier, but I was waiting to see how the top would fare after "moving" about as much has it would never be allowed again, since I will now run the dehumidifier. Once it stabilized itself, I will recheck the top flatness.

I think I have seen enough from the bench, 
time to restarted it for the season!

Currently there are not much visual indication that it is not flat.
A long jointer plane sitting on it doesn't show like it used to.

A quick test with my Stanley No 8 joiner plane reveal a maximum of .008 not bad, barely worth fixing, I have worked on much worse :-)

let's see if it move and in which direction as I bring down the humidity in my shop.

And really most of it is due to a small ridge running along the front of the bench

It look really worse with the strong light but it is only showing 0.008

While I was going over the bench, I was pondering about the usefulness of my current vises attached to it.

First let's review the leg vise

It is a very old vintage vise that I found about 30+ years ago, no idea how old it actually is, nor is there any visible maker's marks.
I installed it to be used. I figured I have it, let's used it...
It has some issues... Both halves were somewhat curved in opposite directions, some planing took most of it out where it mattered. In an effort to keep the faces mating tight, I refaced them about 25 years ago with pieces of hardwood glued cross grain.
It probably created lots of stress, cause the faces finally gave in a bit to the curving effect, the glued joint held tight, but some the wood pieces shows cracks.

Took a long while but they finally gave in and curved

The cross grain glue connection is holding tight.
Stronger than wood itself as they said

That was an easy fix, I just had to tweaked it with a rasp until it secured a piece of paper across the length of the face. The bottom pin that adjust the pin board is a replacement I whittle from a piece of maple years ago, still no signs of damages, and secured to bench with a small leather lanyard. Probably the only reason why I did not lost it yet :-)
The vise handle was missing, I made my own. The half knobs on each ends are threaded using my wood threader kit. I used whatever pieces of wood I had on hand, the handle is made of three different species. The long handle piece is oak, the end knobs are walnut and mahogany

The front casting is broken in a few places. I kinda glued it back together with epoxy, did not worked well, so now it is epoxied to a thin aluminum spacer and I drilled a few more holes to fasten it.

And, YES, I know, Robertson screw heads look out of places, 
should be slot screws, preferably with  some sort of patina :-)

That work, but there is too much play, making the main screw to move around when operating, creating some annoying binding if not careful.

So how does it work?
Great, it had been doing the job without much complaints for the past 10 years.
I really like that design in front of my bench, better than using the ubiquitous Record metal vise. That one, I reserved for the end of the bench.

The small gripes I have about my leg vise could easily be addressed, by simply making a new one.
I have spare antique vise mechanism of a much bigger diameter mind you.

That thing is huge and heavy.
Not sure what I am going to used it on.
A 8 footer Roubo bench??

I could easily make my own, or buy one of the new ones. Either the wood screws or the Bencrafted incarnations. But has long has it earned its keep, its a keeper. I had thought of lining the faces with leather, but...won't be necessary.

It can hold a piece of paper very tight
 without going gorilla on the handle...

The end vise

At the bench end I installed a Record No 7 clone (Mastercraft) , because I had been carrying around that vise like forever because that's the only thing I ever saw on a bench up front, before I built this joinery bench. I have long converted to leg vise with no foreseeable coming back. Even with my cranky antique. I can only dream how nice it must be with a Benchcrafted one...Must be like heavenly :-)
Anyway, had it, used it. That's why it is installed at the end.

I never did completed its installation. I was suppose to make wood chops to bury the metal faces inside and have two bench dogs, one at either ends and a corresponding rows of bench dog holes...never did happened, and never did I missed it.

Once in a blue moon I used the built in bench dog, 
may be twice in 10 years...

As you can see the one and only row of bench holes was supposed to be joined by another parallel one about the same distance from the end of the vise face in provision for a wooden face equipped with two bench dogs.
Never happened, never had a need for it.

In fact I am seriously questioning, why I ever put it up in the first place. Cannot see much uses for it. Not the way I work anyway.
And right now, its in the way for crosscutting large pieces like says...pieces for bottom tool chest cabinet??

I suppose I could always go to the woodshop and...but what's the fun in that? :-)

So why don't I miss it?
I used the whole front of the bench as a large flat surface, the whole surface is co-planar with the vise rear jaw face
I can clamp whatever with my holdfast, or rest on its shaft if I want to pound on the piece.
On the top, there are not much bench holes, but I have yet to run into a situation where I would need another one. If I did, I would just drill one!
I use Veritas bench dogs and pups system, and use various planing stops and a pied de biche (Doe's foot) and a holdfast. I only have two blacksmith made holdfast and never wished for more.

So I guess I can spare that vise for another application??
Hummm more muttering at my bench is required, need a cold one

Meanwhile soon it would be time to fine tuned the top one more time and install a proper blacksmith made, antique bench planing stop into it

Bob, muttering at his bench...


  1. "Pied-de-biche" is the French for "crow bar".
    CS should have chosen another animal for this clamping board.
    Pig foot? Goat foot? Cow foot? Roe foot?
    Devil foot?

  2. Hah, but it this historic context, CS is right, Doe is a female deer ( and a few more related animals) and their foot have the characteristic V opening like.

    It does really described how the board look like for its intended purposes. Here in Canada we call a crow bar in French... a crow bar :-)
    There are always various meanings and possible translations, but this one is correct. And if I recall correctly it is so described somewhere in old French text: Roubo perhaps?

    Cheers Bob, or Robert :-)

  3. added a pic of a real deer foot (Doe or Biche) on my Google + page (just click on my face on this page).
    I think it clearly illustrated why historically we call such a bench appliance a pied de biche or Doe foot.
    But, heh, I have been know to be wrong before :-)

    Bob, with a falling arch (getting old sucks at time but it sure beats the alternative)