Leg Vise Disaster

Oh. My. God.

Yesterday started off innocently enough.  I was up at the crack of dawn, had my usual six cups of coffee, read all of my favorite blogs and dealt with a few issues from work.  I grabbed a quick shower and drove down to Jackel Enterprises, the local specialty lumberyard, to pick up a plank to make the leg vise.  I wanted something nicer than a hunk of the typical new growth green doug fir that I’ve used for the rest of the bench.  I picked out a piece of 8″ wide 8/4 S2S Red Oak.  At $7.50 a board foot it was more than I really wanted to spend, but I figured the $90 board would give me a beefy leg vise and a piece for the chop on the end vise.

Back in the shop I cut two 35″ lengths and jointed one face and one edge.  They were actually very flat already, no rocking on the cast iron jointer face, but I made a pass just to be absolutely sure as I wanted to laminate the two together to make a thicker blank for the leg vise.

Boards Faced for Laminating

Boards Faced for Laminating

I poured out the glue, Titebond III which I’ve used for almost everything I’ve made, and rolled it out to get an even coat on both faces.  Maybe I should have used a touch more?  I had a good even coat though, and a a bit of squeeze out all around, so it seemed right.

Glue Applied

Glue Applied

Then I clamped it up and left it for three hours.  I probably should have left it overnight, but I wanted to make progress…

In the Clamps

In the Clamps

I pulled the clamps and machined is square on all six sides,  It looked pretty good, and it was time to call it quits for the day.  This morning I went out to the shop to start laying out for the vise hardware and found this waiting for me.

Rut Roh...

Rut Roh…

What happened?  Clearly I should have waited longer for the glue to dry.  Maybe I should have used a bit more glue.  Maybe the glue went bad?  And I guess I should have given the board time to acclimate to the shop after milling it.  But still.  The board was flat to begin with and I took a really light cut from the face.

More importantly, what do I do now?  Do I work more glue down into the gap and clamp it?

Or do I saw it apart at the glue seam, mill both parts clean and square, let them acclimate, and re-glue it?  I suspect that’s the right answer.  It’t more work, and I’ll lose some material all around, but will probably have a better result.  Maybe fresh glue too.

I checked the outer faces of the boards, and they are both cupped outwards.  More on the thinner board, and of course more where the gap is widest.  What a nightmare.  Lesson learned I guess.  Let the stock acclimate, rough mill it, let it acclimate more, final mill it.  Sigh.

In other news, I ordered the Benchcrafted Criss-Cross Guide.  I looked through my metal stock with the intent of making something like this and decided it wasn’t how I wanted to spend my time.  It would take me at least 3 or 4 hours to layout, cut and machine the steel stock for this guide and at about $100 for the Benchcrafted version I’d rather just buy one ready to go.

Hopefully it will arrive by next weekend so I can get this show on the road.  Today I’ll be re-sawing and acclimating my leg vise stock.

Criss-Cross (Applesauce)

Criss-Cross (Applesauce)


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6 thoughts on “Leg Vise Disaster

  1. Eric Bushèe

    Hi Joe,

    Man, that sucks. As you say, the wood should always be allowed to acclimate in your shop. Unless the glue is really old, I wouldn’t think that was the problem. Titebond seems to have pretty good shelf life as long as it isn’t kept in a really hot conditions. And, yes, you definitely want to saw it apart and start over – no way to get glue in there and re-clamp. But do you really need that thick of a vise chop? I would think that one 8/4 board finished out at 1 3/4″ would be more than adequate. Personally, if I wanted a thicker chop I would look for 12/4 maple, which you can usually find in better stocked lumberyards.

    Good luck!


    • I’m going out to re-saw it now. I’ll square it up and leave it for a few days to move before I try to glue it up again.

      The Criss-Cross instructions specify a 2.5″ thick chop, it gets a 1 7/16″ deep mortise for the mechanism, with a little luck I’ll still have 2.5″ of thickness when I’m done.

  2. I don’t think it’s acclimation of the wood. It looks to me more like the water in the glue caused cause one face of each board to swell, effecting the thinner board most drastically.

    • Could be. I cut it apart at the joint, re-machined the wood and left it to sit for a couple of days. I’m going to be just slightly under 2.5″, not sure how critical that will be with the criss-cross setup. I’ll use fresh glue this time and leave it for 24 hours in the clamps, hopefully that will take care of it.

  3. Maybe you should glue the growth rings heart side to heart side. (In the pic it’s glued up opposite of this). So if if does move again the movement will oppose each other and stay flatter.

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