bench vice and starting out

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Blog entry by Lazy_K posted 04-21-2014 11:21 PM 1877 reads 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch

one of the investments a beginner woodworker thinks they really need is a nice cast iron bench vice.
Now, I’ve been doing this professionally since 1982.
In @ 1994 I got a used /discarded slab of laminated rock maple with a vice on one corner. some school threw out several student benches with the vices on them. some local persons “salvaged” them from the dumpster. my truck may have been used and I got one…. I never use it.
I had gotten used to by then a homemade vice that I first saw in an article on Pompeii (in either the National Geographic or the Smithsonian).
And I still use it today!

It couldn’t be simpler.
you take 3 blocks of hardwood about 2” x 2” x 10” make them very square on their faces. fasten (bolt or screw, the original was probably nailed) one block to the top-front edge of your bench (I’m right handed so it’s at the left end of my bench. Fasten another one at an angle of @ 1:7 and 1 1/2” to 2” behind the first.
cut the 3rd block at a 1:7 pitch but leave a 1/2” x 3/4” nub on the narrow end. this part slides free!

take a board you wish to edge plane, slide it so that the nub catches the front edge of the board, and jamb it into the space between the two fixed parts. It locks tight! to open, tap the end of the wedge with a hammer.
boards too narrow? ad a spacer behind the wedge or behind the work.
boards too wide? move the back part further away.

price? how much does 6 heavy and long screws and 3 blocks of scrap/trash cost?

of course i still want one of those reproduction Emmert vices, I have worked with an original and I have set up one of the reproductions. They are sweet but expensive.

be well
lazy K

-- Kai SaerPren

1 comment so far

View shipwright's profile


8816 posts in 4255 days

#1 posted 04-21-2014 11:56 PM

I like it. Back in my shipyard days we used to edge plane planking sometimes in excess of twenty feet on a long bench with a set of simple angled jam blocks at one end. As the planks were usually curved some extra support was often required here and there but basically you just jammed the end of the plank in the blocks and planed away. It always worked very well.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

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