A place for me to display some of the varied projects that come out of my shop, as well as to "talk" about some of my experiences working with wood.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Another one of my vises (vices?)

It is very likely that with this post I will pass 20,000 visits to my blog – while I am no pro in this woodworking world, I am pleased that folks are that interested in what I have to say. Thanks for the clicks!

Second Generation Face Vise in need of upgrade
This is the third vise for this bench I made in 1991. The bench was originally made from a Woodsmith magazine and was advertised as a European bench and I thought this good enough for me; and despite the cyclical trends of bench fads over these past 20+ years, this is still my favourite design. Originally the bench had a wooden vise face which the plans called for, but this only lasted a few years. It did not have a quick release and I was tired of spinning it every time I needed to use it. I like to close the vise when I am not using it as I have a habit of walking into things that are in my walking path...:-(

The vise that came off has served me well for many years, nothing special, just an 8” woodworking vise (with a quick release) with wooden jaws I made for it. I think this is the third set of wooden jaws which are overdue for replacement. This vise will get re-used on the new outfeed table I am building- with a new set of jaws of course.

The vise I used is the Lee Valley (Veritas) Quick Release Face Vise which according to my extensive reading is one of the best for this purpose. For me it was a very smooth installation as I could simply bolt it to the underside of the benchtop without much modification. The vise face was lined up on the template so it was flush with the top of my bench and I drilled the holes. The wooden jaw is bubinga with ebony shoulders to add some visual interest, I think it turned out okay.

Regarding the vise kit, the instructions were very well done, explaining how to mount the vise on several types of benches; as is typical of LV documentation it was well done and very easy to follow. The fit and finish of the vise is of an extremely high quality and very pleasing to the eye. But a vise is meant to be used, and now that I have been using it for a couple of months I am extremely pleased with its function. I lined the jaws with suede to give me a nice slip-proof setup and have no complaints whatsoever.
New face vise installed ready for use.
I use this vise everyday in the shop and it operates very smoothly, sliding in and out the way you would expect. The rails slide in and out very smooth, like a well engineered piece of equipment. The quick release is very well placed and easy to use and clicks off and on very precisely. A nice feature of this vise hardware is the angle iron protection over top of the acme threaded screw; I often use this vise to clamp parts being glued and the occasional squeeze-out drops down – the “hood” keeps the glue from fouling the screw and thus the action of the vise, I put a bit of wax on this to make it easier to clean off in the event of glue spillage.

In summary, I wish I had bought this vise years ago, we tend to put up with crappiness longer than we should – in fact this vise sat in the corner unopened in the box for 6 months before I broke down and installed it – what was I thinking?? If you are not caught up in the roubo bench vortex and are looking for this type of vise, I would recommend this one a lot. I have tried them all when I was researching and none of the ones I tried looked as good and felt as good in operation as this one – what do you expect from Lee Valley?

Sunday, 14 April 2013

I knew I needed new (KNEW?) Handles

I really like the Knew Concepts saws. I bought one of the first aluminium ones I could buy. As a Titanium fan I wanted one those, but as with many of these firms in the U.S.; they refuse to ship to Canada - so I suffered with the Aluminium one, which really was not that much of a compromise. :-)

The ferrule insert which is quite different
 than the Elkhead one, shown beside it
These are quite simply the best saw out there for removing dovetail waste or cutting out creative shapes in material - I use it for both. The one knock on these saws is that for the price, you would think they would put more effort in putting a quality handle on their saws, NOT so much. I think they are made from some white wood from the crapwood tree.

Enter Elkhead Tools, who make pretty nice replacement handles for these saws. I bought one of these last fall at WIA and it makes the Knew saw way more usable. I find the saw with the stock handle as almost weightless which makes it difficult to control in fine cuts; the heavier handle makes it much easier to use accurately - at least for me. I am sure the almost weightless feel is good for some applications, just not mine.

Lee Valley recently picked up the Knew Coping saw which I immediately bought and love, but it's too light to use and thus control as well. I checked with the boys at Elkhead Tools and they had no idea when the handle for the new Knew Coping saw would be available - enter Maritime ingenuity. At about the same time Lee Valley finally announced they were carrying the Titanium version and I grabbed one of these too.

I decided I would make some handles for these saws myself from some nice woods. I designed a brass insert and asked my machinist buddy Joey to make a few for me and turned a few handles for them and filed them to fit the saws and voila. I thought they turned out okay!!

My Knew saw collection and some nice handles, including an extra for a friend.