A New Life for an Old Bench #3: Garters and Glue - a Tail Vise's best friends

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Blog entry by ToddJB posted 03-17-2014 03:04 PM 3597 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: A snap shot of history Part 3 of A New Life for an Old Bench series Part 4: Addressing Wood Rot & Questions About Gluing Up The Top. »

I got some great time this weekend in the shop between late nights and toddler naps. We’re on the home stretch (days away) of our little lady coming into the world, so I’m feeling a sense of urgency to get some crap done.

With that – I present Garters and Glue:

The big project was to get the tail vise up and running. Here is how she looked when she came into the shop.

No garter – meaning the screw would just unscrew, while the tail vise didn’t move.

And the top of the tail vise had delaminated, had been nailed back together, and the nails were coming up too.

The garter was the bigger issue of the two for me. In my last post, Kevin, taught me A: that a garter is called a garter – not a retaining ring, and B: where I could buy a wood or brass replacement (Thanks Kev). The problem is that the brass replacement was out of my current budget, and the wood one appears to be designed to go on the backside of the vise, which wouldn’t accommodate my set up – AND – and most importantly, neither would match the look and feel of the front vises garter. So, the only logical solution would be make my own.

I started by just looking for a huge washer to convert. I could find the right outside diameter, and I could find the correct inside diameter, but not on the same washer. And the price of one larger really big washer, isn’t like picking up a 13 cent zinc plated one at ACE. I gave up on that venture and quickly moved on to and was swept away by the romantic idea of being bad ass and just totally making one from scratch – so that’s what I did.

Stopped off at the local metal yard and picked up a big piece of 1/4”. This chunk cost me $10, and will be around for many more projects and will also sever as the new shop anvil, until a proper one is located for a nice price.

Original garter traced:

Rough cut with an angle grinder with cutting wheel:

Shaping up:

After the rough shape was done with the angle grinder, I moved to the bench grinder to round things off and to put the round over on the edge, and then finished up with a file. Drilled some holes and counter sunk.

Note that my counter sinking is not as deep as the original. This is for two reasons – the sloted screws I had on hand that looked the part were a little smaller than the ones on the front vise, and my counter sink bit sucks and was demolished attempting to achieve even this much counter sinking.

The only thing left was to age it. I took a torch to it for a little while to blacken it up. Then took it outside and added some salty water. Left it sit over night and a full day.

While nature was taking its course I drilled out and plugged the old screw holes.

Darkened up enough to not look odd, and over the next 100 years the process will continue and will eventually look real nice.

Now for the Glue:

When I pulled the top off of the vice I quickly figured out why there was so much trouble keeping it locked into place – and of course I totally forgot to take a picture of it.

What I saw was that the side of the vise with the exposed dovetails had a piece laminated to it on the backside. The laminated piece was not glued on flush. It stood about 1/32” proud on the right side. So a little work with a rasp and the ROS I got her cleaned up and glued down.

I think this’ll hold and hopefully I won’t have to deal with it again. This process did leave the top sitting ever so slightly lower than the front of the tail vice, which I’m not sure how important that is, and will be addressed if needs be.

So what’s the verdict? Tail vise is operating smoothly. Color me pleased.

Part 4: Rotten wood and questions about addressing the bench top glue up.

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

12 comments so far

View CL810's profile


4303 posts in 4485 days

#1 posted 03-17-2014 03:23 PM

That garter looks like it is the original. Lookin’ good!

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

View JayT's profile


6460 posts in 3708 days

#2 posted 03-17-2014 03:29 PM

Well done on the garter, Todd. Just seeing the care you put into making that piece look right with the bench is very inspiring. Have you been taking lessons from Smitty? Can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View chrisstef's profile


18140 posts in 4504 days

#3 posted 03-17-2014 03:47 PM

Solid friggin work buddy! You’re doing that old girl right I tell ya.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View ToddJB's profile


8886 posts in 3628 days

#4 posted 03-17-2014 03:58 PM

Thanks Guys.

JayT, I would be honored to be his grasshopper/padawan.

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View theoldfart's profile


13159 posts in 3948 days

#5 posted 03-17-2014 04:36 PM

Todd, you nailed it! It will be one helluva bench when your done.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View 489tad's profile


4159 posts in 4509 days

#6 posted 03-17-2014 05:00 PM

Good work sir.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View shampeon's profile


2167 posts in 3681 days

#7 posted 03-17-2014 08:59 PM

Sexy garter.


-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View ToddJB's profile


8886 posts in 3628 days

#8 posted 03-18-2014 06:53 PM

Thanks Guys.

Ian – I tried to get my wife to take it off of my thigh, but she just called me creepy and walked away.

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View Slyy's profile


2840 posts in 3153 days

#9 posted 03-19-2014 02:17 AM

Todd, excellent work so far on turning this little gem back into a hard worker. Wives have a hard time understanding good humor Todd…...

-- Jake -- "Not only do we live among the stars, the stars live within us." - Neil Degrasse Tyson

View Mauricio's profile


7170 posts in 4649 days

#10 posted 03-21-2014 07:01 PM

Great work man, the garter looks like it has been there for 100 years!

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

View theoldfart's profile


13159 posts in 3948 days

#11 posted 03-21-2014 07:18 PM

Something uncomfortable about a guy admiring a hundred year old garter. :0)

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View ToddJB's profile


8886 posts in 3628 days

#12 posted 03-21-2014 07:20 PM

Thanks Maur, that is what I was going for. To be honest the picture helps it out a lot. In person those newly ground edges are still pretty fresh looking.

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

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