Finishing the Wagon Vise

Well I was finally able to get back in the shop since arriving back home last Sunday. It wasn’t easy though. I kinda left the garage in a disarray when I left and it was no better when I got back. Yeah, that’s supposed to be my shop area… Well after three days of on and off again cleaning, I finally got my side of the garage in a usable state.

So now my first state of business was finishing the wagon vise! Before I can start on today events, let me catch up on what was done before I left to Yuma. After I finished my tenon part of my end cap it was time to cut out the mortises.

I don’t mean to brag but these mortises pretty much fit like a glove from the get go.

Next was getting the hole cut out for the screw portion of the wagon vise. Since the threaded rod has a 1″ diameter I established the center with a number 16 auger bit between the spacer and made my mark.

Once I had the center outlined I placed the threaded insert over the outline and traced it.

After it was traced I finished drilling the hole through the end cap…

And then I chopped down to the depth of the hardware and marked my holes and drilled for the mounting screws.

I did have to add a little bit of a chamfer to the edges to make room for the welding on the hardware. Once I mounted the hardware and went to dry fit it, I found out there was one little problem. Again, since the hardware was an after thought, things didn’t quite line up.

So I marked the edges of the hardware on the bench top the and cut back to the depth of the mounting bracket. Once everything was nice and flush, I left to WTI.

Now we come to today. There was one issue that was making this whole set up a real PITA. When you tightened the screw that secures the mounting piece on the moveable portion of the vise, it makes contact with the bracket before bottoming out which causes it to tighten the bracket rather then letting it spin freely. Therefore when you loosen the vise it would unscrew completely. To correct this issue I cut the top off a small screw and placed it in the screw hole to act as a spacer to give clearance between the bracket and screw.

Now I know in my last post about the vise I mentioned how I did not want to use any metal fasteners on this bench. Well while in Yuma I came to the conclusion that since I’m dealing with pine, to best reinforce the end cap it might be best to go ahead and use them. Luckily for me I already had some lag bolts and washers from a previous project that I never used. I marked for three bolt and drilled about 3/4″ down. From the center of the auger bit it continued with a 5/16″ drill bit for the 3/8″ bolts. I elongated the two back bolt about 1/16″ and 1/8″ respectively. Nothing fancy, just some paring away with a chisel.

Once it was all said and done and the end cap was mounted, I installed the vise hardware completely and cleaned up the top and edges. I used a 1″ dowel pegged with a 5/16″ dowel on both ends for the handle. Here she is closed…

And open…

In summary I would have done a lot different. First would obviously be to account for the size of the hardware before building. There won’t be too much flattening of this bad boy since parts of the hardware are almost already flush with the top. I would have also like to use up more of the vise length. There’s about four more inches of unused rod that could have been nice to have. Also, I don’t like how close the left bolt is to the edge but so long as it holds, I guess I’ll try to not let it bug me. Aesthetically, I may go back in a square up the elongated holes. You may or may not be able to tell but they are quite funky in shape.

Other that waxing the sides and runner grooves, I’m calling the wagon vise complete! I don’t have any bench dogs made yet but I did test it out by placing a piece scrap in the middle and clamping it down and boy does she hold. I couldn’t even budge the board! Next is getting the base assembled…

Well That Didn’t Work How I Intended…

When I first thought about building my bench, I didn’t intend on buying any vise hardware. My original plan was to just use a bar clamp on the leg vise and a spreader for the wagon vise. Well if I’m putting so much time and effort to build this bench by hand then why not spend the extra money for presentable hardware?

A couple of weeks ago I went ahead and ordered both the large single screw vise and scandinavian vise screw from Lie-Nielsen. Now if I were building the bench larger and of higher quality materials then of course consider I would consider something like Benchcrafted but since it’s just some construction grade pine, the Lie-Nielsen will do just fine. There was only one major issue…

Since the vise hardware was an after thought, things didn’t quite fit with my current wagon vise set up. The installation would have been impossible without another modification. The other piece of mounting hardware was also an issue but more of being able to drill out the holes for the screws.

There was no room to get anything in there so I was left with one option…

After I cut out the spacer I brought the wagon vise forward and clamped it so I could drill out the holes for the screw holes.

Actually mounting this piece concerned me also due to the fact that since it was going into the block with the dog hole already cut. No matter how I angled it, the left side looked like it was going to pass through. I opted for the top left since it would give me a little more room because the top is angled more forward. The screw just barley broke through but not enough to matter.

Next was getting everything square and ready for the tenons.

I know how I wanted the mortise and tenons to fit but not exactly how to reinforce (I’ll get to that in a minute) so I began the layout. First I knocked out the single tenon with a combination of my sash saw and a flush cut saw. I needed a smaller saw that could get in between the top. After that was done, I started on the shoulders of the larger tenon. When I started to cut the cheeks I had to stop because I kept going at an angle. I didn’t want to stand the bench on end and cut so I tried sideways and that didn’t work. So I began chopping it all away.

I went all the way down to about 1/16″-1/8″

and then crept up on my line with a block rabbet plane.

I flipped it over and when all was said and done, here she is.

Now here are my issues with reinforcement. First, I don’t want to use any metal fasteners. I’ve seen many benches with lag bolts on the end cap and I just don’t want to do that. Unless absolutely necessary, lag bolts are a last resort.

Next, my tenons are 1″ long. Does that offer enough space to insert 3/8″ dowels? If they were centered on the tenon, there would be 5/16″ on each side of the dowel. That just doesn’t seem like enough of the tenon for proper reinforcement. I’m not planning to clamp boards with enough force to bow them so maybe it would be enough?

Lastly is the design aspect. I went with a shorter shoulder on the side more near the wagon vise because I wanted to get a dowel in as close to the wagon vise as possible for better strength. Probably doesn’t matter but I went with it anyway. Here’s what I’m thinking…

As for dealing with expansion, I plan to glue the mortise and dowels on the left side of the vise for a solid foundation. Now I’m think that gluing just the dowel on the right would be okay and then opening up the dowel holes laterally for the last two would allow for any movement.

The total width of the end cap is about 11″ and I know there are formulas to figure expansion and contraction but I think it’ll be fine. Anyone disagree?

On a personal note. On Wed I’ll be leaving to AZ for 9 weeks for some training. My goal is to at least have the end cap and wagon vise installed as well as the left side of the bench fully assembled. Wish me luck!

Making (most of) the Wagon Vise

The groove for the moving part of the wagon vise will ride in  is 3/4″ wide, 1/2″ deep, 1-1/8″ from the top and is 9″ long. Again I wondered if I should flatten the top before marking my lines and again I figured I’d be okay. The bench is only made of pine and if it didn’t work, at least I’d know for next time without ruining some quality wood. I measured from the line I marked that would be my final dimension on the opposite end to where to the wagon vise would start and end. I marked my lines and another set about 1/4″ extra and removed the waste.

I used a router plane and chisel to get this done. I defined an edge about 1/16″ in from all the lines of the groove with a chisel and then got the waste out using the router plane. Once I was down to depth, I switched back to a chisel and began paring until I reached my line. Definitely not the prettiest but it’ll do. By the time I got to making my third stopped groove, I was a little more efficient at getting it done.

Yes, there are only two grooves for the vise but due to my mistake, I had to cover one, and make a third. The third was actually the easiest but shouldn’t have been necessary. It was open on one end so I didn’t have to worry about a stopped end at both sides.

Here’s the before…

and now the after…

Making both the moving assembly and spacer was a matter of using the cutoff parts. I did have to make a dog hole first but I’ll cover that in my next post. So after laminating the boards I cut the required sized for the moving piece and squared each up best as possible. I does seem a little small but since I don’t intend on cranking down too much pressure, I think the size should be fine for what I need. I mean it won’t be Benchcrafted worthy but it’s good enough for my first bench.

Next on my list is making the grooves for the runners. There are two pieces for the front and back that will be set flush with the block to ride along in the grooves of the bench. Getting the waste out was a little more of a PITA than I first imagined. The end grain was a real pain to deal with. So I made a series of saw kerfs to aid in getting it all out with a chisel.

Once I got about 90% of it out, I came back with the router plane to get the bottom flush. It’s definitely not the best looking but it does what it needs to do.

When it came to the runners, I was gonna make them out of some quartersawn red oak but as I was going through my scrap bin I came across some 3/4″ square bloodwood from a past project that never got built. I just cut them to length glued them in place as is.

Once dry I used a tenon saw to cut the runners as flush with the block and then planed them down flush.

Not sure if it matters or not but I softened the corners with a chisel in hopes to give it a smoother glide. I had dry fit it in the bench by clamping the front and back of where the grooves are and realized it was too tight within the bench. I used the rabbet block plane and took some off the sides and a chisel for in between the runners. After a few more dry fits, it was time to make it final.


At first I had planned on buying a Scandinavian Vise Screw from Lie-Nielsen but I have another idea in mind. It’s a much cheaper route and hope it works but I won’t divulge just yet. You’ll have to stay tuned to find out.

The Split Top Hybrid Roubo SketchUp

That’s right, ANOTHER modification (and I’m sure by the name some of you are thinking ABOMINATION!) But it is what it is and this is the design I’m going for. I know it seems I’m doing more time RE-designing my bench than actually building but you can thank my Kindle and Chris Schwarz (sorta).

I actually spent a good amount of time in the shop working on the top yesterday. Before my decision to mod the bench again, I was building the top in four sections. Two sections of four laminated pieces at roughly 5-1/2″ and two sections of five laminated pieces at 6-7/8″. I will actually have a post dedicated to building of the top so I’m not gonna go into detail but it’s just some background info for you. Anyhow, I had the first section of four pieces already laminated and was working on surfacing another five for glue up. I got through 4-1/2 boards before the heat finally got to me and I had to call it quits for the day. Little did I know this was probably for the best.

After I cooled off and took a shower I plopped down on the couch with my Kindle and began browsing some books. I did a search of workbenches just to see what they had and low and behold, Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use was free to borrow for Prime members (one of the greatest things about the Kindle Fire). So I figured, why not? Now this isn’t a book review but there is a lot of good information in there and I have enjoyed reading it thus far. I got about a 1/3 through the book when I decided that I wanted to re-mod my bench. There were new things I wanted to add and some I wanted to take away.

My main rational for this mod was I felt the design didn’t meet the minimal requirements (yes, his opinion but still). While I could manage to work a board’s face, edge and end, it wasn’t effective (my opinion). There is a section of the book dedicated to (again his opinion) the best work holding ways and devises for a vast array of scenarios. I took what I liked, both function and aesthetics, as well as some ideas from other benches I’ve seen, and incorporated them into the original design. And here is what I’m now calling the, wait for it….

Split Top Hybrid Roubo

This may look like any other bench but I personally haven’t seen another one that’s got as much function (and looks as BAD ASS) as this one. It’s got everything I’d want in a bench. Let’s start fro the top and work our way down.

While not the beefiest of tops, it’s 3″ thick with an overall surface of 24″ deep and just over 60″ in length. This was my main “sacrifice”. The original plans call for a 4″ thick top at 26″ x 91-1/2″. Although it would be nice to have something that big and I do have the space for such but as I don’t plan on building anything (with hand tools) that would require that size, it would just be a waste.

I much prefer the look of square bench dogs so I wanted to keep that. I think a wagon vise is more purposeful for my needs vs an end vise. Even something as fancy as a twin screw end vise I just couldn’t justify getting. I outlined the top in a tic tack toe pattern and added 3/4″ holes for holdfasts. You can see a planing stop all the way at the end of the bench that is adjustable from underneath. Lastly is the split top. The fact you can use it as a batten for cross grain planing, an extra planing stop for short stock, or as a temporary tool holder but then flip it over for a flush surface is nothing short of awesome to me. So simple! The top should handle all face work I will encounter.

The leg vise was something that I thought the original plans was missing. It had the sliding deadman but for me it needed the vise especially because I wasn’t going to use the twin screw face vise. Since the top was already flush with the legs it wasn’t hard to incorporate. The part at the end is something I picked up from the book. It’s a crochet. You wedge your board in it and clamp it down in the leg vise for edge planing. I don’t think it’s necessary but it doesn’t hurt to have. This set up should satisfy my edge and end working.

I thought it would be a good idea to include drawers on my first mod. Then I thought about it. I have a small trestle framed cabinet with 7 drawers that I can’t stand. I love the trestle frame, I hate the drawers. It just stockpiles crap and gives me a reason to hang on the the most absurd items. So away with the drawers and hello to a shelf. I’m always looking for a place to put things temporarily and a shelf works. I didn’t want it flush with the tops of the stretchers  since there’s always a possibility to more easily knocking off a tool. I also didn’t want to fully enclose it so I can easily sweep off shavings and other misc things as they accumulate.

This bench just says bad ass to me. My favorite thing about this bench? The joinery. In case you haven’t been to and checked out the video series for the actual Hybrid Roubo Bench (which is free for non-members right now), I’ll do a quick rundown of the joinery. The base has three types of tenons. It has pegged tenons on the upper side stretchers, wedged double tenons on the lower, and a dovetailed through-tenon, with an angled haunch and wedge on the front and back. I really wish I could afford to build it out of better materials but I’ll make due with what I’ve got!

Now that I’ve got what I’m considering my final SketchUp model finished, I can continue with building the top. I’ll complete the front portion first so I can knock out all those dog holes, planing stop, and set up the wagon vise. Stay tuned for that!