Author Archives: OldeToolWorkshop

Roubo Workbench – update 3 – Tail Vise Puzzle

2015-11-21 10.27.00

Tail Vise Rails resting on the bottom of the bench top for a test fitting

At long last,  I am back working on my workbench.  There was a brief delay because life happens.  For reasons I won’t bore you with (cat fostering), I was unable to work in my garage for the past 2 weeks and I was not able to make any workbench progress.  Fortunately,  I am back in business and I made a major step forward yesterday.  I finished the cavity for the tail vise to be installed in.  I have the pictures showing the “finished” cavity below.  Suffice it to say,  I am glad to get that part completed so I can get on with the rest of  the workbench.  As you can see in the photos, I have not glued the boards together for the front part of my bench.   I will probably do this tomorrow.  Then I can start gluing the remainder of the boards together  to finish assembling the top.  Right now the exact dimensions of the cavity is not important.  I will need to finish the top surface of the workbench before making any precision cuts to mount the tail vise.  In the following pictures you will see the boards clamped together and then expanded to show how each one is individually cut to form the whole. I did purchase some soft maple to attach to the front of the bench because it will get the most abuse from clamping and other activities,  so I decided to make it out of maple.  Also, it will be dovetailed into the side maple piece which the tail vise will be attached.

-Aaron

 

2015-11-21 10.27.42

Clamped without the Tail Vise Rails

2015-11-21 10.29.04

Expanded to show each board

2015-11-21 10.29.12

 

 

 

Roubo Workbench – update 1- Stock prep

bc_classic_leg_vise_pic

BenchCrafted Classic Leg Vise – Unfinished

IMG_2818

3x5x22 Maple End Cap – Cat Inspected

I have almost all the materials on hand for my workbench.  I am still waiting for my new Benchcrafted Traditional Classic Vise to get here, but I finished surfacing my hard maple end cap that secures the tail vise to the end of the bench.  As you can see my shop cat is inspecting my work with aloof approval. It started out as a rough log and now it is surfaced on 4 sides, square and flat 3″x5″x22″ board. As you can also see, the benchtop boards are now acclimating in my shop.  I will start laminating them soon.

 

 

IMG_0059

2x5x6 Leg and Stretcher Stock

I was waiting for my “Souther Yellow Pine” SYP lumber to dry some more.  I checked them with a moisture meter and it read 10%, that is dry enough to start processing them so I  have ripped them to width from 6 2″x12″x6′ boards, down to 12 2″x5.25″x6′ boards that will be used for the legs and stretchers.  I still have a LOT of surface planing yet to do on these boards.  If I had a power surface planer I would use it.  I do have 2 nice joiner hand planes that can do the job, albeit a bit slower and a with a bit more muscle power.

 

 

The only parts for the bench I have left to buy are the bolt hardware (used to secure the end cap to the bench) and the chop board for my leg vise.  The chop board is going to be a 8/4 x 8″ x 36″ piece of hard maple.  I will need to get that at the local lumbar yard. Depending on price, I may also  get a 6/4 x 5″ x  6′ hard maple board for the front on the workbench.  That will make a stronger front edge that I will be clamping to all the time and also will look nice dovetailed into the end cap.

I know this project is progressing a bit slowly,  but I have never built a workbench before and I like to think about projects as I build them so I do not make as many mistakes.  This workbench has some complications that have me really putting my engineering hat on.  I am loving every minute of it.  This bench will serve me well for many, many years and I can’t wait to build my first project on it.

-Aaron

And so it begins – My Roubo inspired 18th Century Workbench

 

IMG_2778This is a project that is way overdue. I’ve been working with my lightweight commercial workbench for way too many years. Last Friday I purchased 10 beautiful 5/4 x 5″ x 12′ boards of southern yellow Pine. I had already purchased my Benchcrafted tail vice about a year and a half ago. This tail vise is quite an expensive piece of machinery to have just laying around not earning it’s keep. So I have decided to go ahead and build my very own Roubo Workbench.  In these pictures you’ll see the boards have already been cut in half and resting nicely on my two saw benches. I will be following Chris Schwarz’s  plans for a 18th century Roubo workbench, modified as to fit incorporate my Benchcrafted tail vise. The finished Bench top should be 5″ thick, 20″ wide and 72″ long.  This is going to be one heavy workbench.  The overall workbench dimensions will be H 34″ x W 20″ X L 72″.  I am using Chris Schwarz’s book “Workbenches – From Design & Theory to Construction & Use” as my primary source for plans and instructions.  I also have Chris’s other workbench book “The Workbench Design Book – The Art and Philosophy of Building Better Benches”.  He has republished his “Workbenches” book and it is available on his website at Lost Art Press.


 

IMG_2780

My biggest conundrum at this point this how to mount the Benchcrafted tail vise.  The issue at hand is, I have not glued up all my boards yet because I want to cut them out before laminating them so that I don’t have to hog out a lot of material later. It’s kind of like putting a jigsaw puzzle together in 3-D before you’ve even seeing the pieces. Not only that, the pieces don’t exist yet, and I will have to fabricate them correctly, so when it does go together, everything will fit perfectly.

I’ve been toying with the idea of making a 1/2 scale model, just so I know how everything will fit together. This is one of those projects I have to sleep on and think about for a few days before the solution comes to me. In the meanwhile I’m studying the plans, and I’m looking at my boards in the garage longing to have this bench finished.


 

Here is what the tail vise will look like when it is installed.TailVise_250pxTail-Vise

 

 

 

 

 

 

This will not be a very long journey, I want this workbench finished before the ghouls and goblins come out on Halloween.

-Aaron

 

Just Plane Fun

Aaron_and_the_wooden_joiner_planeOne of the things I love to do in the shop is make tools.  I have made saws, tool boxes, knives, mallets, hammers and other assorted useful items.  One thing I always wanted to make but was hesitant to, was a plane.  Any plane would do, a jack, molding or  scrub plane would be great. One of the reasons I have hesitated is because planes are different.  They do take some skill and experience to set the blade and the wedge at the right angles where they actuality cut wood and eject the shavings.  The history of planes goes back for centuries and they have been made by hand for that long but these things take skill to make and get right.

With that in mind,  I had been keeping an eye on Bill Anderson’s plane classes at the Woodwright’s School for some time. Recently (a year ago), I got my chance, I was on the wait list for a joiner plane class and got the call at the last minute. Let me tell you, I was excited.  In this class you built a 28″ long 19th century joiner plane complete with a vintage iron.  This was a three-day class and I loved every minute of it.  I finished all the major parts in the class.  All that was needed was to widen the mouth for the iron a bit, as it was a little too snug, make the front and back buttons and make a knob.

The buttons and the knob were afterthoughts, but the more I looked at it, the more I thought it needed a little color.  I added the cocobolo buttons, cocobolo being a very hard wood will protect the plane ends when I adjust the iron with blows from my wooden mallet.  The knob was also a last minute item where I had a hardwood button to put in the top, but I wanted more.  I put a 4″ long dowel in the hole already drilled for the top button and I liked the way it felt when I used the plane.  Excitedly, I went to the lathe and turned a nice cocobolo knob.

I was going around and around in my head on how to fasten this knob to the plane body and then an old technique came to mind.  I would use a foxtail wedge.  Basically an exposed wedge is one you do after sawing a slot and inserting a dowel or spindle in a hole and driving the wedge home.  A foxtail wedge is the same, but you do not have access to the wedge to drive the wedge with the mallet, so the bottom of the hole acts as a stop. You have to widen the bottom of the hole into the end grain and put the wedge in the sawn slot and insert the knob in the hole, and with a mallet, you drive the knob to the bottom forcing the wedge to widen the bottom of the knob locking it in place. At that point, you have a glue-free solidly fixed knob. Click here to see a picture and description of how a foxtail wedge works.

A little sanding and a few adjustments here and there and the plane was ready for the finish.  Planes are usually just finished with some type of oil and wax.  I put 3 coats of Danish Oil on and then some wax and she is ready to go to work.

2015-03-11 14.24.42This was a great project and it still was a bit difficult, but Bill is such a great teacher, I was able to do all the complicated work in the class, under his guidance.  If you get a chance, go take a class at the Woodwright’s School, you’ll be glad you did :)

-Aaron