Work Bench Build #6: Leg Vise and Assembly

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Blog entry by jmos posted 03-04-2012 06:49 PM 7387 reads 3 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Twin Screw Endvise Part 6 of Work Bench Build series Part 7: Finished! »

Things are moving right along.

One thing I knew I would need for this project was a 3/4” upcut router bit I could do plunge cuts with for the dog holes, as well as for routing a groove in the top for the sliding deadman. I didn’t want to spend a fortune for a carbide bit so I tried the HSS bit from MLCS (item #7498). Overall I was very happy with it; more later.

Once I had the end vise installed I could decide exactly where to mount the top on the base. With the base upside down on the top I was able to mark leg position and layout and route the groove for the sliding deadman. The groove was 3/4” x 3/4” so I routed it in three passes with my plunge router with an edge guide, and it worked well.

In Shwarz’s book he mentions that the leg vise is strong enough to shift the top, which he had attached with four lag screws. Per his recommendation I added two 2” long 7/8” hardwood dowels to the front legs. It was a little finicky lining everything up, but it worked.

By the way, another selling point of using the saw benches for this build was that I was able to flip the top right side up, set the base next to it, and lifting one side at a time I got the top on the base myself, even though it’s about 210#. I was able to do the entire build without assistance.

With the top in place, but not attached, I got my dimensions for the sliding deadman. machining that was pretty straight forward, I just had to make sure that it was flush with the front edge of the bench; the V groove in the bottom was symmetrical, but the tenon in the top was not. I first cut the V groove on the table saw, cut the deadman blank to length, than cut the rabbets in the top on the router table. After that was done and it fit well, I laid out the curves and cut them on the band saw, then bored the holes.

Then I installed the last piece of edging on the top. I used a couple of biscuits for alignment and two lag screws at either end to attach it.

Next was the leg vise chop. Overall that went well, no real surprises. I lined the chop up and clamped it to the leg to transfer the marks for the clearance hole and mortise for the parallel guide. Then I used my hole saw and hollow chisel mortiser for cuts. Once that was done I cut the shape of the chop, I didn’t get terribly fancy, but I like the way it turned out. I used a scrap piece of cherry for the parallel guide. I cut a kerf in the tenon end and wedged it with a sliver of oak, between that and the glue I don’t think that will pull out on me.

Then it was time to attach the top. I used two 3/8” lag screws on each side; they penetrate 2” into the top, so I don’t think it will be going anywhere. Then I did some flattening with my jointer plane. It didn’t take too long to get the top flat and to clean off any residual marks and glue stains.

After that it was dog hole time. This turned out to be a bit of a pain. I first laid out the holes and cut them as deep as I could with my plunge router. The MLCS bit worked like a champ; I cut 61 holes and the bit was still cutting well. Now, I was drilling into SYP, so your mileage may vary if your using hardwood, but I was happy. After the router I planned on using my corded drill to finish the holes.

I mentioned earlier that my drill didn’t have enough power to drive the single flute auger bit I had gotten. I went back to Lowes and got another bit that had three flutes. The bit was a hair large in diameter than the router bit, so it was difficult getting it into the holes, and if I didn’t have it inserted far enough it would cause a bit of tearout in the LVL. My drill was struggling to bore the holes. It was (yes was) a 20 year old 3.5amp B&D cheapo home model, and after about 6 holes I let out all the magic smoke and it turned no more. So, off to the store to buy a better drill. I decided not to go crazy and bought a PC 7amp hammer drill.

With the new drill I figured I’d give the single flute bit another go, and it worked great. However, the bit is not exactly 3/4”; it was smaller enough in diameter that the dogs wouldn’t fit in the holes. So, back to the three flute bit. The new drill worked much better, and except for some tearout the drilling finished up without further incident.

I still need to give the bench a couple of coats of BLO, and add a shelf on the bottom, but it is mostly complete. I’m looking forward to really trying it out. I’ll post some final pics after I get the finish on.

-- John

3 comments so far

View andyboy's profile


566 posts in 4770 days

#1 posted 04-02-2012 08:56 PM

Clever lad. Very nice!!

-- Andy Halewoodworker. You can't finish if you don't finish. So finish it, because finish is everything.

View Angela's profile


205 posts in 4393 days

#2 posted 06-30-2012 02:45 PM

Question: I didn’t understand why you added and where exactly you added this. I also couldn’t locate this on the photos
“I added two 2” long 7/8” hardwood dowels to the front legs. It was a little finicky lining everything up, but it worked.”
Is the deadman also silver oak? It’s looks very nice.

-- - Helping other woodworker's

View jmos's profile


918 posts in 3866 days

#3 posted 06-30-2012 02:57 PM

Yea, could have posted a photo of that. One issue with a leg vise is that it transfers force from the leg to the top. In a traditional Roubo you’ve got massive tenons holding the top in place so it is not an issue. With a knock down bench you don’t have such positive attachment. Schwarz commented in his review of the bench after some use, that the top was actually shifting back when they use the leg vise. His suggestion, which I adopted, was to add dowels to the top of the leg, and into the top of the bench. These dowels will then keep the top from moving back. And it does work, no top movement at all so far!

Hopefully that makes sense. If not, let me know.

The deadman is 8/4 maple, as is the leg vise, the end vise, and edge banding and two strips on the top. Everything else is red oak.

Thanks for reading!

-- John

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