Leg Vise Costs (and some table work)

Last night, on the bus ride home from work, I was reading Bill’s recent post on his Slightly Confused Woodworker blog regarding the virtues of leg vises.  I agree with him they, are awesome.  One point he mentioned was how cheap they are to build so I decided to calculate the hardware costs for the one I built; and because I purchased some of the Moxon Vise hardware at the same time I calculated its cost as well.

Acme Hex Nuts $   10.50
3′ Acme Rod $ 16.00
Total Hardware $ 26.50
Acme Cost Per Vise(2) $ 13.25
Leg Vise Acme $ 13.25
Bronze Bearing $   5.44
Total Leg Vise Hardware Cost $ 18.69
Moxon Vise Acme $ 13.25
Bronze Bushings (2) $ 10.40
Total Moxon Hardware Cost $ 23.65

As you can see the cost is pretty darn reasonable.I purchased my parts online (Amazon and eBay) so I’m sure the cost would have been lower from a metal working shop and you could really do without the bronze bearings.  I don’t remember what the maple cost (the rest of the wood was scrap in my shop) and you would need to include the cost of the 5 minute epoxy used to attach the acme rod to the hubs but overall they are very reasonable.

Try doing that with a metal vise.

Last night I ended up using my leg vise to true up one of the table edges and then cross cut the ends to be perpendicular to that side.  The ends will need some block plane work before I start cutting the breadboard tenons and the opposite side needs some adjustment but that will wait until the stand is farther along.  Now that I know the width is 34.5 inches, I can start work on the legs.

Vise Restoration – part 1

After looking over the vise I purchased on Craig’s List I decided it just needed some minor rust removal.  It looks like it was rainted at some point (there is paint on the parallel bars near the front) and while I don’t know what is under that paint, overall the surface looks pretty good.  Most of the rust is on the bottom on the parallel bars and the screw so I decided to start with some electrolysis rust removal.



I hooked it up to the electrolysis machines and put it into a bucket of water and washing soda for around 4 hours.

After a brief scrub with a sanding pad and a wire brush things are looking considerably better.


I put on some Camilla oil and tomorrow I will use abrasives to clean off the rest.

Harvey Ellis saw till part 4 – Through Tenons Cont.

After chopping out the remaining five mortises it was time for the through tenons. I clamped the divider in place using the back panel to ensure that the grooves were lined up and marked the mortises using a mechanical pencil. These lines were then transferred down the faced using a tri-square.

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Next it was into the Moxon Vise where the tenons were cut using a back saw and the waste was hogged out with a coping saw. Because I made the Moxon Vise so large I was then able to turn the divider on its side and cut out the end waste.


Then it’s time for the chisels to pare down to the line, it just so happened that the gap between the tenons was exactly the same width as Big Bertha (which is the name I have given my vintage two inch chisel) so I used it two chop the main base line before undercutting with some smaller chisels. I purposely made the mortises slightly smaller than the thickness of the divider and lined up the bottom of the divider with the bottom of the mortise, this meant I needed to slightly shave down the top of each tenon. This means there is a bit more margin for error as any gaps would not be visible from inside the saw till.

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For the final fitting of the tenons, I used a dovetail trick from Christian Becksvoort and marked the inside of the mortise with pencil lead before test fitting. Then after pulling the tenon out, any places that rub have a black mark that you then shave off with a chisel, file, or float. Repeated test fittings result in a tight fit (though you can still screw up).


The first set came out the best, but overall I am happy with the results. This pine is a bit brittle and I found that stropping the chisel after each mortise helped quite a bit and I re-honed between each set. This is just pine so this would probably not be necessary if I had a nicer set of chisels.

Side One
Side Two
Side Two

Harvey Ellis saw till part 4 – through tenons

This is my first post from the mobile app so apologies for any errors.   Last night I started cutting the through tenons for the divider between the drawer and the saw till.  First I placed the two sides together and marked the top and bottom of the divider on both front edges at once; then I scribed the top and bottom edges on both in the inside and outside faces using a marking knife and a combination square.  Then I marked the  edges of the mortise using a wheel cutting gauge from both the front and back edge, ensuring everything was centered.

Next I drilled out the center of each mortice with a half inch auger bit, starting on the outside face until the screw just barely broke through (10 full revolutions for me).

Then flip the board over and finish the holes from the other side to avoid blowout.


Then I chopped halfway through the mortice then flipped it over and finished the other side.  
Not bad, just five more to go.  

Harvey Ellis Saw Till – Part 3 – Cutting Tails

I strained my back at the gym on Wednesday so I decided working on the bench top would not be the best idea therefore this weekend was all about cutting pins. By sneaking in a few minutes after work I head already sized and square the case top and bottom, all that remained was planning them to their final width. I decided to jury rig a panel gauge using some scrap and a clamp which worked well enough for what I needed.


After plowing the groove for the back it was time to mark and cut some pins. Since the case sides are longer than my bench is wide and my bench is not easily moved due to its lack of attached legs, I decided to relocate my Moxon vise to the end of the bench. This gave me room to lay the case side on top and trace the tails with my marking knife, and then I marked out the face lines and got cutting. The end results were pretty good for a first attempt at free hand dovetails, there were a few gaps but the joint is structurally sound.

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Saturday we decided to walk to the SF Zoo (it’s a 3.5 mile walk) and we cut through Golden Gate Park to get there. For those of you who don’t know Golden Gate Park has a small herd of Bison (commonly called Buffalo) which is where we noticed this sign.

Oddly Specific
Oddly Specific

Saturday night I cut the second set of pins and these were atrocious; gaps everywhere and the front edges of the boards did not line up meaning I had to make the gaps even bigger in order to get them close to flush. In the end it was unbelievably loose and will need wedges/shims to be structural.

Luckily this was followed by an excellent bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Luckily this was followed by an excellent bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Sunday I managed to cut the two remaining sets of pins; set three was about the same as set one but for the final set I decided to use a mechanical pencil instead of a knife making it easier to see the lines and adding a bit more of a buffer zone; this was the best of the four.


Since I still had some time I decided to pick or a board for the divider between the drawer and the saw area. This board needed to be a quarter inch longer than the case top/bottom in order to have the through tenons stick out and it needed to be around the same width to make layout easier (I will plane down the front edge after joinery is complete to make a consistent 18th inch reveal). Unfortunately there were no suitable boards and any glue-ups would have required a ripping a narrow strip. Instead I decided to use one of the case side cut offs that had a rather nasty knot on the edge which I chiseled out before planning the board to width. This knot void will only be visible from the back and from inside the drawer space, plus this is garage storage/practice piece so better to be economical about things.


Then I plowed a groove on the top and bottom of the board to hold the back pieces. This is one of the design elements from the tools box inspiration that I really liked.


Harvey Ellis Saw Till – Part 1

Sometimes it feels almost impossible to get some shop time in. Over the weekend I attempted to make some headway during Henry’s afternoon naps and both times I ended up receiving a phone call that turned into hour long conversations. Since the weekend was mostly filled with cleaned and home improvement projects, I decided to not finish milling the bench top as I had planned (I had even sharpened up my 6, 7 & 8 in anticipation); instead, I decided to get started on my saw till.


I cut out the sides slightly over-sized and jointed one edge with my #7 and then squared up the edge with my #5 & attached Miller Falls jointing guide.

As you can see from the undersized shaving, I was a bit out of square.
As you can see from the undersized shaving, I was a bit out of square.

I then used this as the reference edge to square up the ends and adjust the length with the shooting board and did a mediocre job planning them with width (I really need a panel gauge). Since this is just shop storage I did not get to picky on smoothing the surfaces but I spent a few minutes flattening the surface and then plowed a groove for the back pieces.


Next it was time to inaugurate the Moxon Vise and gut some tails. I alighted the reference edge (which will be the front face of the carcass) and clamped them together with the outside faces touching in an effort to minimize visible damage. Next I laid out the tails using the dividers method and marked my tails using my old Veritas Magnetic dovetail guide as a pattern and started cutting. It is amazing, I have owned my BadAxe saw for almost a year and these are the first dovetails they have cut.

I thought these looked a lot better in person than they do in this picture
I thought these looked a lot better in person than they do in this picture
Waste sawed out.
Waste removed.

At this point there was just enough time for a shower before Game of Thrones started so chopping the waste (and testing out my “new” dovetail chisel) will wait until one day after work.


Project Interlude – Sharpening Station & Moxon Vise

Unfortunately no progress was made over the weekend or over the past couple of days due to work so I decided to play hooky from work yesterday and run some errands (got the car serviced etc.); I also decided to make use of my remaining TechShop membership and make some progress on a couple of other projects.

I finally got around to unpacking my sharpening gear so I am taking Chris Schwarz’s advice and putting a hardboard base within a boot tray as a sharpening station. A few quick cuts on the table saw and I had a fitted base and a few strips to hold the stones in place. Now I just need to buy a new bottle of TiteBond III.


The main purpose for the trip was to get started on a Moxon Vise; I have had some hard maple sitting in my garage for the past 3 or 4 months along with some ¾ inch acme threaded rod and some bronze bushings. I also decided to use a chunk of African Teak (which was given to me by the same friend who gave me the white oak from the coat rack project) as the handles.  After some quick milling I had my handle blanks (I have never had wood smoke so much and it’s pretty foul smelling smoke at that) and the front and back vise jaws. I also finally used the liquid cooled metal chop saw to cut 12 inch chunks of acme rod.

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The plan is to imbed the bronze bushings on the inside face of the rear jaw and attach the Acme nut to the back. Since the bushing has a flange and a main body, I needed to step down through three sizes of Forstner bits: 1.25 inches, 1 inch, and finally .75 inches for the rod itself. I also drilled the corresponding rod holes in the front jaw.

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Next I took my handle blanks and drilled a socket in the end for the shaft; unfortunately I mucked this up and the socket is not square to the sides so there will be some extra work getting the parts together.

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I will put together a Moxon Vise centric post once I am finished and have taken the tome to photograph everything.