Mini-Roubo from Oz #6: Mounting the tail vise and cutting the mortises for the workbench top

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Blog entry by siggykc posted 09-22-2019 01:35 AM 441 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: My First Workbench Build - The Workbench Top Part 6 of Mini-Roubo from Oz series Part 7: Fitting the Bench Crafted "Glide" Vise and "Criss Cross" »

G’day friends,

Last post you may have recalled I outlined how I cut, fitted and glued the 2 workbench top halves. I shall carry on from there.

After unclamping, I took to both halves with a glue scraper to clean them all up before using a No7 plane to ensure the sides were all square to the bottom side of the top. The bottom is my reference point as it mates to the base of the workbench. The top can always be planed accordingly at the very end to bring it all into alignment.

The next step was to install the tail vise hardware. Unless you are building to the standard Bench Crafted plans, I strongly suggest laying the vise hardware out, understanding how it actually works (I spent an hour or so doing this on the kitchen table) then taking measurements off the hardware instead of using the template in the Benchcrafted instructions when determining where to mount it on the workbench.
The install went very smoothly. I left my moving dog block 1-2mm thicker than the workbench top, and planed it flush to the workbench top after mounting it to the vise mechanism.

Next, I jointed the two halves using the No7 plane, to ensure that the mating surfaces did not have any gaps. This is done with a square and a long straight edge, and some patience.
Below: How I clamped the halves to joint them. You will notice on my offset tenon leg, I chiselled out some material to accommodate the tail vise rails and mechanism. A tenon saw and sharp chisels were used to do this.

When I was pleased in how the halves mated, I mocked up how they would sit on the base of the workbench and marked out where I would cut my mortises.
On my bench these mortises are arguable the most critical in the whole build. Because my 2 halves are to mate giving the impression of a single piece top (non-split top). If they are out by a fraction of an inch, either a gap would result between the two halves, or the halves would be out of alignment which would visibly look bad.
TIP: Make a split top design with a gap or a tool well/holder in the centre. This will allow for slight misalignments: If the two halves are not perfectly parallel or aligned with each other, you would never notice it. If a tool well is used, then one can simply plane the tool well accordingly so that it ends up with a nice even and snug fit.
I highly recommend this approach to anyone building a Roubo workbench that does not want a single solid top.
I used a marking/boxcutter knife to get good accurate lines.

Above and Below:For the mortises I first drilled these out using my ever so reliable portable drill press and cleaned them up using a sharp chisel.

I cannot recommend a good portable drill press enough. I have clamped it horizontally to drill holes through steel plate, and done delicate work on both wood and metal…and it has remained perfectly true and when clamped does not vibrate one bit. It takes some practice, but I have had far better results than with a standard pedestal drill. On a job like this, it allows you to bring the drill to the job, rather than the job to the drill (which would be impossible for a small fella like me!)

Above: I started with the front half as this has to be flush with the base, then I follows up with the rear half.
The rest is straight forward. I got lucky and my mortises all lined up bang on the money and with a few strikes of the deadblow mallet, the top snapped into place.

Above: A pic of the rear of my bench (prior to the mortises being cut). No one will see this side as it sits facing the wall of my workshop, but I was very happy (as you can see) with how it turned out!
Below: After mounting the workbench top, I swept up, packed my toolbox up and knocked off for the day but couldn’t resist mocking up where the leg vise would go….

Next step: mounting the leg vise.

Stay tuned!


-- Siggy,

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