Bowling Alley Workbench #14: Chop Chop Laddie. (the leg vise)

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Blog entry by PurpLev posted 08-12-2009 03:44 AM 11549 reads 6 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 13: The Top #3: Putting it Together with an Inverted Dovetail Part 14 of Bowling Alley Workbench series Part 15: Falling Off the Wagon... (vise that is) »

This project is a fine example of the 80/20 concept. it takes 20% of the project time to complete 80% of it, and then, 80% of the project time to finish the last 20% of the project.

As it gets to the details, things take longer to think through, plan out, cut…mill…glue… and finesse. this time it’s the leg vise Chop, and although not completely finished (still need to trim, round off, and apply BLO), it’s construction is done.

I was originally planning to use one large 10/4 board for the chop, but I didn’t have anything of that size that would work well. the only part I had was mahogany, and it’s not as hard as the rock maple, and I didn’t think it would work well for a vise jaw which gets abused, and needs to counteract pressure. I decided to use the bowling maple strip cutoffs, and laminate them to form the chop:

The lamination wasn’t as thick as I wanted, and I also wanted to give it an accent and something ‘different’ so I resawed the cutoff piece from the endcap (of the top) into 1/16” strips for the next step.

I cut a curve in the chop, which keeps the top of the chop as wide as possible (for clamping purposes) but narrows the bottom so that it’ll be easier for me to drill for the drawbore pins. Also the bottom of the chop doesn’t really need to be wider then the bench leg anyways. I then used the cutout curved parts as cauls and glued the 1/16” mahogany strips to the maple lamination:

I did one side at a time but glued all laminations at the same time. for future reference, I should prepare the veneers better- they weren’t uniformed and smooth enough, which caused some minor gaps. in this case, nothing to worry about -I just want to get this thing done, the errors can be easily fixed at a later time.

After glueing the veneers on the curve I repeated the process for the straight edges while making sure it’s butted against the curved veneers. I also mortised the chop and drawbored the (milled) maple parallel guide:

this time I drilled the offset holes for the drawboring – in the RIGHT place… lol. (I actually had to make sure, so that I don’t repeat the same error again).

After that, I placed the chop in the slot for the parallel guide, I took the hole-saw drill-bit I used to make the hole for the vise screw in the leg, and placed it in the hole in the leg so that the bit protrudes toward the chop, then I pushed the chop all the way flush with the leg, aligned it properly, and from the other side, tapped the drill bit so that it’ll mark the chop where the hole should go. I took the chop out, drilled the hole for the vise screw where it was marked, and installed the hardware:

action is still not smooth (not the screw, but the parallel guide has friction against it’s slot), I never used a leg vise before, so I’m not sure if that’s just to be expected, or not. I’ll try to plane the parallel guide in height so maybe it won’t have as much resistance. other than that – when this thing closes it’s like an Alligator jaws – it grips like there’s no tomorrow.

next I’ll round off the top and bottom, and plane the top flush with the table top, chamfer the front edges, and coat this with boiled linseed oil like the rest of this bench.

Edit: OK, I was able to round off the top and bottom of the chop, plane it flush with the top of the bench, chamfer (with a ) the edges, and put a couple of coats of BLO (1 more to go):

I also planed the parallel guide in height slightly, and rounded off it’s edges so that there’s less material in contact with the top and bottom of it’s slot – it now slides in and out much much smoother, with a coat of paste wax it would be even better.

On the same note – talk about timing – I just found a pair of rollerblades that someone threw away – I’ll see if I can incorporate the wheels like Jameel at Benchcraft did (although these are bigger wheels then skateboard wheels… so maybe I’ll have to look for something smaller)

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

13 comments so far

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 4812 days

#1 posted 08-12-2009 04:10 AM

Wow that is very nice looking leg vise!! I’ll bet you will get a lot of use out of it.

Not owning one, but doing lots of reading and living vicariosly through others, my understanding is the parallel guide should glide very smoothly. My understanding is the leg vise have a habit of sagging slightly causing the guide to bind a bit. Here is a link on how Khalaf resolved the issue.

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4706 days

#2 posted 08-12-2009 04:15 AM

Thanks sIKE, I read, re-read, read it again, memorized, and sang that blog when you first showed me that bench – I will probably end up doing something similar at a later date, but for the time being – I was hoping it would work smoother “out of the box” ... maybe some finessing…

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 4812 days

#3 posted 08-12-2009 04:31 AM

Here is a good pic of the the roller.

Also a link to the Glide, I know you are not interested in a purchase, but the videos at the bottom show the leg vise and rollers in action…I now know how to make one for myself…

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View charlton's profile


88 posts in 4467 days

#4 posted 08-12-2009 06:31 AM

Nice job on the vise. Hopefully, you’ll get all the quirks figured out but it’s impressive so far.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 5157 days

#5 posted 08-12-2009 07:46 AM

This has been fun to follow.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View ellen35's profile


2749 posts in 4490 days

#6 posted 08-12-2009 12:38 PM

I’m sure you’ll bring this little thing to the LJ Picnic next month…all finished!
Did you order the flatbed truck yet???

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4706 days

#7 posted 08-12-2009 04:23 PM

Thanks guys,

Ellen, no flatbed truck, but I did make reservations with a moving company – I might need some help unloading this though… ;)

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 4940 days

#8 posted 08-12-2009 06:31 PM

That is really sweet. Good Job Sir.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View blackcherry's profile


3345 posts in 4881 days

#9 posted 08-13-2009 04:16 AM

Bravo my good man the journey was a blast to view, thanks for sharing your adventure. This one will always be a memorable one on the site….Blkcherry

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4706 days

#10 posted 08-14-2009 03:58 PM

Thanks guys, I actually added an updated photo of the Chop after being detailed and finished. it now works pretty great, and doesn’t get stuck – the motion can definitely be improved, but no more complaints from me – it works well!

almost there…. almost finished.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View BrianLuntz's profile


11 posts in 3726 days

#11 posted 03-22-2011 03:51 AM

I really like how you took the extra time and effort to make what might have been a bland piece of workbench into a really exquisite piece of woodwork. Kudos!

-- Brian -

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4706 days

#12 posted 03-22-2011 06:35 PM

Thanks Brian!

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View JohnChristmas's profile


6 posts in 3698 days

#13 posted 04-01-2011 03:42 AM

Nice work – really like the neat clearance for the various vise components as well!

-- John -

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