Building The Holtzapffel Workbench #9: Wagons Ho!

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Mike Lingenfelter posted 03-31-2008 03:45 AM 14055 reads 12 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: Top and Base Come Together Part 9 of Building The Holtzapffel Workbench series Part 10: Flattening The Top »

This weekend I had time to work on the Wagon Vise. Overall it came out really nice. I also attached the top to the base, so it’s all one piece now.

I’m using a standard veneer press screw for the Wagon Vise, nothing special and it’s cheap. The first step was to bore a hole for the thread bracket, that the screw runs through. I have to tell you boring through end-grain is a bit of a pain. I should have bored the hole using my drill press, before I glued the piece in place. Next time I’ll know better. I ended up using a cordless drill and a 1.25” Forstner bit. It took a little time but I finally made it through, with no real tear-out.



Next I had to deal with screwing into end-grain. Generally screws don’t hold very well in end-grain and I wasn’t planning to put an end-cap on the bench. Dorje gave me a good suggestion. Drill a hole through the top and insert a dowel. The threads of the screws will bight into the long-grain of the dowel better than the end-grain of the wood.


I gave it a shot and it worked pretty well. Although it felt like the screws would eventually pull out, even with the dowels. If it wasn’t for the pressure the vise was going to put on the screws, I think this technique would have worked really well. I ended up putting a long bolt through the end and attaching a nut. This worked really well. Then I had another idea. I could have flipped the bracket around and put it on the inside of the wagon opening. That way when I put pressure on the vise it would push the bracket into the wood. Oh well, I can do that if this set up ever gives me any problems.

Next I installed the wagon and flipped the top over. The wagon was little thicker than the top, so I had to mark what needed to be removed.


I took an old plane blade and laid it flat on the bench and scribed around the wagon. I then used a scrub plane to remove the bulk of the wood and finished up with my #5.5. It only took a few minutes to this with hand planes.

The next step was cut a ¾” x ¾” rabbet on the underside of the wagon opening.


I used my router and fence to do this. Sorry for the blurry picture. I only took one picture and it turned out blurry. You might notice a little wave in the rabbet on the right side. I didn’t have the fence tight against the edge and it pulled away, before I realized. Good thing it is on the underside of the bench, where no one will see it. These rabbets will hold a couple of pieces of aluminum track that will hold the wagon and keep it from sagging.

Here are the aluminum pieces. They are 1.25” x 1/8” and about 10.5” long.


I drilled a few holes and counter sunk them, so the heads of the screws will be flush.

I then marked where the aluminum tracks will intersect the wagon. I then ripped a couple of groves with my table saw. The width of my saw blade was just the right size. It gave just enough room for the aluminum tracks, so that it wouldn’t too snug.

Here’s how the tracks fit into the wagon.


By using the rabbets and the aluminum tracks, I can remove the wagon and replace it if it ever gets damaged.

Here’s the wagon vise installed. It moves really smoothly, I couldn’t be happier with how it came out. The aluminum tracks give the wagon a lot support. I thought I was going to have to use wax or something to get it to move smoothly, but it’s fine as it.


I clamped up a board to see how it was going to work.


With very little clamping pressure, the board is held snugly in place. I’m using 2 Veritas Bench Dogs in my bench. I think I’m going to like these bench dogs.

I’m really happy with how the Wagon Vise turned out. I think I made the right choice. It might a couple move weeks before I have a chance to do more work on the bench. I think in one more weekend I could have it finished. I need to install the large face vise and flatten the top, then put a finish on it. Ok, maybe two weekend ☺.

11 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4360 days

#1 posted 03-31-2008 03:54 AM


Great post. I have been following this all along and you are nearly finished with the bench. It is looking fantastic.

But now you are telling me I am going to have to wait two more weeks for more!!!! I don’t know if I can wait that long. :)

Thanks for the post.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1141 posts in 4530 days

#2 posted 03-31-2008 05:11 AM

Really cool, love the wagon vise :)

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4535 days

#3 posted 03-31-2008 07:54 AM

Wow Mike! Really great work on this.. Great blog!!! The bolts you used was the perfect solution – don’t think you’ll have any problem there!

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4501 days

#4 posted 03-31-2008 01:27 PM

Great job, Mike. This bench will be enjoyed by your grand children.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 4652 days

#5 posted 03-31-2008 04:28 PM

Scott, sorry you have to wait, my wife and I have some vacation plans and other obligations over the next couple of weekends. I’m so close I want to get it done too!

Dorje, your suggestion worked really well. I plan to use it again when I have another end grain situation.

Thos., sadly there will be no grand kids in our future, but I’m sure it will go to some deserving woodworker at some date.

View kenn's profile


813 posts in 4258 days

#6 posted 04-01-2008 01:52 AM

This whole series is one sweet blog. I’ve been reading Christopher Schwartz’s wookbench book with the idea on builbing a new bench soon, so it’s great to see what you are doing and your tips. Thanks. Keep going you’re almost there.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4527 days

#7 posted 04-01-2008 01:53 AM

I see that you are keeping the great work on your bench!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View kem's profile


56 posts in 4257 days

#8 posted 04-01-2008 04:03 AM

That wagon vise worked out really well! You’re so close now. It must feel pretty good.

How did you attach the top? Did you just glue it? Are you going to drawbore the legs to the top?

I see now how you got the nice long lines on your top by choosing boards with the diagonal end grain lines. I think most of my boards have horizontal end grain lines with the boards on edge (quartersawn?), so I’m worried my top is not going to be as clean-looking. I’ll have to remember to look for that next time.

-- Kevin

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 4652 days

#9 posted 04-01-2008 04:56 AM

Attaching the top I only used draw bores, no glue. I wanted to be able to remove the top if I never needed to replace it. You really don’t need any glue when you draw bore anyway. I didn’t pay to much attention to grain direction when I picked by boards. It was hard enough to just find boards that had few knots. If I had had more boards to choose from, I might have have been more picky about about grain direction. Overall I think the boards will do just fine. They are less than 3” think, so overall there really won’t be that much movement no matter what type of cut it is. You really have to get over 6” before it can start to make a difference.

View johnjoiner's profile


160 posts in 4432 days

#10 posted 04-01-2008 05:52 AM

Sweet-looking wagon vise, Mike.

The aluminum tracks solution looks really nice. Did you come up with that yourself?

It looks like about 2” of wood at the end of the wagon vise opening to hold in your thread bracket. How did you arrive at that dimension? Does that feel solid?

Enjoying your blog.

-- johnjoiner

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 4652 days

#11 posted 04-01-2008 04:04 PM

Yes it was an idea I came up with. I was planning to use wood for the track. I was at my local Lowe’s to pick up some angle iron for a different project and saw the other selection of metal there. I thought about using the regular steal, but thought it might rush. The aluminum won’t rush and it’s petty smooth. The aluminum is plenty strong enough. It goes into the wagon about a 1/2”, which gives it a lot of support without causing much friction.

I believe the section where screw passes through the bench is about 2.25” inches thick. It was just a guess on the size. I new there wouldn’t be a lot of pressure on it. The wagon vise is really only used to hold a piece in place while planing. After playing with it a little, I’m amazed at how little pressure is needed to accomplish this.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics