Bowling Alley Workbench #15: Falling Off the Wagon... (vise that is)

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Blog entry by PurpLev posted 09-09-2010 04:06 AM 16153 reads 10 times favorited 28 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 14: Chop Chop Laddie. (the leg vise) Part 15 of Bowling Alley Workbench series Part 16: The Wheel on the Wagon goes round and round »

Hard to believe, I know. It’s been over a year since I announced the workbench complete, although there was always that missing part, that loose end that had to be tied off in order to officially declare it a complete project.

Not only was it a loose end (literally, the vise screw was hanging loose in it’s slot), but it was a missing integral part of the bench that I kept on wishing I had setup and functional. The Wagon Vise to hold down boards for planing flat and similar work. I know I can use a planing stop – which I have for most, but I personally find it lacking, sometimes I want to address the board across the grain, or diagonal, and with a planing stop – it was a pain. I am so happy to have this vise functional, and with a 1/8 – 1/4 of a turn I can lock down a board so well, that I can lift the bench by pulling on it (if I had the strength to actually lift the bench that is). I can now plane cross grain, diagonals, and with the grain with ease as the board is not going anywhere.

I was really taken by Jameel’s benchcraft wagon vise. I still think that it’s a masterpiece, and one of the best vises on the market. however, as much as I like it – it’s way beyond my budget. so my plan was to build a wagon vise from scratch trying to take from the benchcraft vise what I liked – mainly? the fact that the vise screw stays stationary while the dog block rides forward/backwards on it as opposed to other vises that use a press screw that moves forward/backwards with the dog block.

At first I tried to stay true to the benchcraft vise, and the vise it was modeled from (in the Workbench book) by designing the dog block to ride on metal rails that will keep it parallel to it’s slot, and aligned with the screw. while researching it, I quickly lost interest of the metal work involved, and decided to do all wood vise. so next was a design that used wood rails on the sides of the screw that the dog block will ride between using V grooves. for lack of time, and for just wanting to get something that will work – I dropped that idea as well, and just ended up with an enlarged block of wood that will ride on the vise screw. What holds the screw parallel to the vise slot is the hole in the end cap that the screw slides in through, and another elongated hole in the bench leg assembly – these 2 holes keep the screw parallel to the top, and to the bench dog line.

The block of wood is constructed from the top’s material (bowling alley) glued together to give me enough support to attach to the screw nut. the top is a cut off from the doghole strip so it matches perfectly into the slot in the top, and the bottom creates 2 wings to the left and right to help keep it from twisting while the screw turns – although I see very little to no need for that as of now:

The block has been hollowed out with a chisel and some determination (don’t have anything to bore that large holes) to house the screw nut to give me the most travel distance, and for better support:

I applied 2 coats of BLO on the block to seal it from humidity, and rubbed some paste wax on the surfaces that will come in contact with the bench top to reduce the wood-wood friction, and screwed in the screw nut (so much screwing…):

First time around, there was a great deal of friction and moving the vise was very hard. I took it out, and lightly planed down all the surfaces that came in contact with the bench as I do not need full contact, I just need it to be a close perfect fit to negate twisting. This time around, the fit was perfect, flush with the top, and movement is super smooth. once the benchdogs come in contact with the board, it only takes a 1/8 to 1/4 turn (light pressure) to secure the board to the top that it cannot be moved under any circumstances:

pure awesomeness!

heres a close up shot of the screw leading the dog block: the “gap” between the dog block and benchtop is actually a chamfer on the top of the dog block and not a real gap all the way through:

And bottom line, this is what it’s all about:

I’m psyched! (2nd time this week) Another project off the list. Finally am able to secure boards for work, Finally have the bench fully functional.

P.S. the workbench has been posted here as a project:

Click for details

Well, and I guess this means the end of this blog as well. 1 down, more to go.
Thanks for reading this,

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

28 comments so far

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 4075 days

#1 posted 09-09-2010 05:00 AM

Very sweet vise Purplelev. This type of contraption is very new to me. I think this is one of the slickest things I have seen in a long while. Thanks for posting.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View jack1's profile


2157 posts in 4993 days

#2 posted 09-09-2010 05:02 AM

Congratulations for sticking it out and doing it right. Looks good and should be a heirloom your family will be proud of. Nice work.

-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

View blackcherry's profile


3345 posts in 4789 days

#3 posted 09-09-2010 05:08 AM

Glad to hear about one of my favorite blog…”The Bowling Alley Bench” was a LJ’s classic blog. A story of great perseverance and completion..enjoy BC

View kenn's profile


813 posts in 4686 days

#4 posted 09-09-2010 06:12 AM

Way to go, it’s always nice to clean up loose ends and now you’ll get even more use out of your bench.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2659 posts in 4493 days

#5 posted 09-09-2010 06:38 AM

Cool vice! and your workbench looks great!

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View ryno101's profile


388 posts in 4631 days

#6 posted 09-09-2010 06:53 AM

That’s fantastic!

-- Ryno

View mafe's profile


12844 posts in 4055 days

#7 posted 09-09-2010 10:35 AM

Pooooopppp… It was the champagne opening – congratulations.
It looks really cool, and now you have a workbench to die for.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View ellen35's profile


2749 posts in 4399 days

#8 posted 09-09-2010 12:14 PM

We all have our vices… yours is just fancier and larger!

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

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6873 posts in 4946 days

#9 posted 09-09-2010 01:41 PM

Great job, Sharon.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View SPalm's profile


5337 posts in 4848 days

#10 posted 09-09-2010 01:53 PM

Looks so fine.
I many times find myself with projects 99% complete. So I can relate with the feeling of Done.

Mighty fine bench sir,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3833 days

#11 posted 09-09-2010 01:57 PM

That’s a great job on that vise. Nice work, puplelev. BTW, I love your bench.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View PurpLev's profile


8642 posts in 4615 days

#12 posted 09-09-2010 03:09 PM

Thanks everyone, this is one project I’m real glad with how it came out with all the mistakes and errors in it, and one project I’m real glad to mark of the list :)

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

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 3906 days

#13 posted 09-09-2010 10:15 PM

That is so pro! Man, can I do with something like this. Tired of struggling to clamp down boards with various bush mechanic contraptions. One day…
Well done to you.

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View bigike's profile


4057 posts in 4255 days

#14 posted 01-25-2011 05:30 AM

very nice work, this bench gives me alot of ideas.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://[email protected]

View Mauricio's profile


7166 posts in 4118 days

#15 posted 01-27-2012 11:08 PM

Hi Purplelev, Great bench!
I am in the middle of my bench build and you have ovecome a lot of the isues I’m trying to solve for. Thanks for posting your process.

I also want to make a wagon vise. Now that you have used it for a while how do you feel about the distance of the dog holes from he edge of the bench? Could it have been closer if you wanted too or is there some mechanical issue that made you have to set it back that far? What about the distance that the wagon travels? do you ever use the fulll capacity or would a shorter screw have works just as well? Thanks!

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

showing 1 through 15 of 28 comments

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