Workshop Twin Screw Bench Vise

While doing some shop improvements, I got the idea to create my own DIY vise to use for projects and so forth. After much deliberation and research, and my wish to keep the project budget low, I decided on mostly wood materials with store bought hardware. I purchased a length of 3/4″ threaded rod, some threaded coupler nuts, washers, a 23/32″ tap, a 3/4″ drill bit, and some lengths of steel rod. I milled the necessary parts down, and used the new Lathe (see this post) to make the lead screw “heads” that would take the threaded rod and the handles. I also had to turn the handle ends. I figured while I was on it, I might as well be creative so I carved the Bushwood logo onto the front of the vise.

I’m pleased with the results. I finished it with 2 coats of Tung Oil and 2 coats of Johnson’s Paste Wax.

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Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event

Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool EventA friend of mine recently let me know about a Lie-Nielsen hand tool event that was sponsored nearby in St. Petersburg, Florida at a local sculpture studio called MGA Sculpture Studio. I had heard about Lie-Nielsen tools before, as they are one of the premier hand tool manufacturers along with Lee Valley’s Veritas line, and a few other fine tool makers. I have never had the opportunity to see find hand tools of this quality being used prior to this, being mostly a power tool woodworker up until this point.

I arrived a bit before 10AM at the studio, and everything was already mostly set up by the on-site Lie-Nielsen staff. I had a chance to ask about Lie-Nielsen’s A2 tool steel vs the other types (O1, PM-V11). Deneb Puchalski, a staff member and expert on Lie-Nielsen took the time to explain the differences in tool steel and why Lie-Nielsen’s philosophy is geared around A2. As other people started to trickle in, I got to browse around the displays and touch and feel the tools that Lie-Nielsen manufacturers.

As another gentleman in the group also had the same questions I did, Deneb took us as a group through the basics of getting started with Lie-Nielsen tools (and hand tools in general) and what types of hand tools we should start out with. This was valuable information for me, as I have very little experience with hand planes, and Deneb’s explanation helped to guide us in the use of a Jointer plane, a Smoothing plane, and a Jack plane. He also explained a bit about angles of the various types of irons in planes, and how to sharpen them using his recommend method – involving waterstones and a bevel honing guide.

Coming out of the presentation, I must say I learned a great deal about hand tool use and selection – and a little more about sharpening. Lie-Nielsen’s tools are well known to be among the very best in the industry, and after experiencing them first hand, I can see why. They are solid, well-built, and very precise. The staff there was very knowledgeable about the craft and their tools and it seemed like they enjoyed what they do for a living, which is important. I highly recommend going to one of these if you’re a novice, and I have to say that Lie-Nielsen is high on my list of tools to buy as I progress to more accomplished woodworking in the future.

Workbench Vise and Mount

IMG_20140119_160147I did a little shopping around, since I needed a workbench machinist’s vise for my workbench – as I plan to start doing some light metalworking (hush hush secret project) in the near future. After looking at Harbor Freight’s poor showing for vise options (mostly due to poor quality), I found a suitable 4.5 inch vise made by Record (Irwin) at Home Depot for a very affordable price. It’s a light duty workbench vise, so it’s not going to be a heavily used item. Once I got it back to the shop, I dreaded drilling holes directly in the bench and permanently mounting it – so I came up with a mount for it so I can clamp it to the work surface without permanently affixing it. I also made a front apron on it so I can use a leg vise I’m planning for in the very near future. The surface of the mount is 3/16″ hardboard over 3/4″ plywood, with a skinny wrap of cherry for edging to make it look nicer on the bench. It should come in handy. I also ended up purchasing a set of magnetic soft jaws at Lowe’s made by Bessey (a popular clamp manufacturer), so I can clamp oddly shaped items.

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Workshop Stools

IMG_20140112_132549After cleaning up my shop, I realized I had nowhere to sit at the workbench. While standing is supposed to be better for you, I also enjoy having the kids join me from time to time, and visitors, and everyone needs a place to settle occasionally. So I found a nice, simple plan from Ana White for a stool. I had to enlarge the top of the stool to 12″ x 12″ to allow the cushions my wife had made me years ago to sit on top. I ended up using walnut for the legs and rungs, and sapele for the top, with a few contrasting poplar plugs in the screw holes.

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