Building The Holtzapffel Workbench #14: Final Vise Assembly

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Blog entry by Mike Lingenfelter posted 05-31-2008 03:01 AM 7806 reads 1 time favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 13: Mockup of the Face Vise Part 14 of Building The Holtzapffel Workbench series Part 15: The Finished Bench! »

After finishing the mockup of the face vise, I was now ready to do it for real. I started by gluing up a couple piece of oak for the main chop. You saw me use my new planer sled to mill the two large faces flat. I used the mockup to locate and cut the 2 main holes for the screws.


I used a regular hole saw on my drill press to cut the holes. It was slow going through the hard oak, but I made it through.

Next I wanted to dress up and round over the ends of the chop. I layout a small reveal and a round over on the front edges.


To cut the shoulder of the reveal, I used my table saw set to about 1/8” deep.


To cut the round over, I used my band saw. It worked pretty well.


With one of my new Gramercy rasps and some sandpaper, the round over cleaned up really nice. The Gramercy rasps work really well, they cut fast and clean. My previous experience with rasps had been with old or cheap brands. They produced surfaces that were rough and had a lot of tearing. It was a pleasure working these rasps and seeing how a rasp should work.


I also wanted to dress up, what I have been calling the washers.


I used a similar layout as I did with the chop, but I used a two shoulders. I used the table saw and band saw to rough these out too. They were also cleaned up with a rasp and sandpaper.


The nuts were then attached to backs of the washers. Then attached to the bench.



I did end up using through bolts on the nuts and washers. They are definitely more stable with this set up.

When the screws pass through the nuts, they are about 1” from bottom surface of the bench top. The screws do need some kind of support. You can simply put a flat shim between the bench top and the screws. I decided to add a small grove to my shims. To do this I took a board and cut a bunch of partial circles with a hole saw that matched the diameter of my screws.


Then I cut them into pieces and glued them together to make a piece about 12” long.



After the glue set up, I cut the shims down to size.



I thought the shims should have some kind of lubricant on them. I melted some paraffin wax and brushed it on the shims, to act as my lubricant.


Here’s how they look after they were installed


On a suggestion from Dorje, I decided to recess the garters for the screws. I just cut a template in a scrap piece of MDF. I then ran my router inside the template, with collar attached to it. I used a 3/8” spiral cut bit, that had a flat bottom on it. It produced a nice clean recess.


After that I was pretty much done.



I have just a little bit of tweaking I have to do. The screws aren’t quite as smooth as I’d like them to be. The mockup operated a little smoother. I just need to tweak the alignment just a little. I was also a little tighter when I set up this final version of the vise. The chop can’t be racked as much the mockup did. I don’t see this as an issue, I really don’t have a need for that feature. If I ever feel I need that option, I can take the chop off and open up the holes a little bit.

The last steps for the bench will be, one last light surfacing of the top. Drill a couple holes in the top and maybe the legs, for my holdfasts. Then apply a light finish on the bench. All the exciting stuff is done now ☺.

21 comments so far

View Al Navas's profile

Al Navas

305 posts in 4511 days

#1 posted 05-31-2008 03:34 AM


Terrific! There is a lot to learn, just from this final vise assembly. Thanks!

-- Al Navas, Country Club, MO,

View blackcherry's profile


3343 posts in 4459 days

#2 posted 05-31-2008 04:00 AM

Wow, now that more than a posting…great deep in skill and display…many thanks…Blkcherry

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4404 days

#3 posted 05-31-2008 04:31 AM

that is a nice vice. i liked the little side detail that you did on the edge to. thanks for the post.

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4624 days

#4 posted 05-31-2008 06:35 AM

That is a fantastic job! Well done!

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

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4632 days

#5 posted 05-31-2008 07:46 AM

Wow! That’s awesome! A real piece of work (in a good way ;) ) Your jointer looks like a little baby plane when viewed with that chop!

The roundovers came out great!

That was an interesting idea to add the coved shims. How did you decide that that was necessary? Did Chris Schwarz use flat shims on his?

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

View jcees's profile


1078 posts in 4435 days

#6 posted 05-31-2008 01:21 PM

Schweeeeet! Great job, Mike. Makes me wanna pick up the pace on my own bench. Hey, what are the garters made from? Did the screwmaker supply them or did you have to fabricate them?


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View Mark Mazzo's profile

Mark Mazzo

352 posts in 4548 days

#7 posted 05-31-2008 03:26 PM


Great job on the bench and vices. Ingenious ides on the support for the bench screws! That really looks to be a very functional bench design.

-- Mark, Webster New York, Visit my website at

View SPalm's profile


5334 posts in 4518 days

#8 posted 05-31-2008 04:33 PM

Man, you do nice work. Thanks for the inspiration. I love a bench blog.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 4750 days

#9 posted 05-31-2008 07:21 PM

Thanks everyone, you are all very kind.

Dorje – I even had to add shims to the twin-screw Veritas vise I had. I think the guy I bought the screws also recommended it. The screws are pretty long and there is some needed “slop” built in. This requires some kind of support to help them operate smoothly.

J.C. – the garters came with the screws. They look like large steel washers. I may try to dress them up a bit, but I haven’t figured out what I want to do with them yet.

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 4348 days

#10 posted 06-01-2008 05:42 AM

I am in awe, what a great bench and great craftsmanship. The detail of the blog is incredible, well done all around…I wanna be as skilled as you when I grow up :-)

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View jcees's profile


1078 posts in 4435 days

#11 posted 06-01-2008 02:39 PM

Mike, you could drop by your nearest outdoor sporting goods store or gunshop and pick up a bottle of Birchwood-Casey Blueing or Plum Brown solution. Follow the directions and either one will color the steel garters and impart a bit of rust preventative as well.


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 4750 days

#12 posted 06-01-2008 03:50 PM

Thanks J.C., Blueing or Plum Brown sounds like a great idea. I hadn’t heard of Plum Brown before, I might have to try this out on a couple test pieces.

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1141 posts in 4627 days

#13 posted 06-02-2008 10:32 PM

Very nice Mike, the bench looks great. Hope I finish mine one of these days!

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

View johnjoiner's profile


160 posts in 4529 days

#14 posted 06-03-2008 05:39 PM

That looks nice Mike.

I hadn’t thought about the wooden screws sagging. I suppose it doesn’t matter as long as you can get the work piece in there and tighten down the screws.

It’s been a few months since I read Schwarz’s book – does he address that in his plan? How far out can you unscrew your vise before it starts to sag noticeably?

-- johnjoiner

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 4750 days

#15 posted 06-03-2008 09:32 PM

I had the same issue with my twin-screw Veritas vise, it’s not just the wooden screws. Most metal vises have support rods built in, to help with sag.

I don’t think it was in the book, but in an article Chris wrote about the Holtzapffel Workbench. If you bought the book from Chris, he was given out a CD with it that had the article on it. I’d have to look around, but I think the article is available on-line. You start to feel it pretty quick. It still works, but if lift up on the chop just a little, they turn much easier.

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