Fixing the Leg Vise

I decided that I needed to properly fix the leg vise lamination.  I really didn’t want to saw it apart, but that’s the only way to fix it I could see.

Ready to Resaw

Ready to Resaw

I ripped it along the glue line easily enough (nothing like having a a WWII vintage 7.5 hp DoAll at your beck and call)



Then I planned both the sawn face and the cupped faces flat.  Unfortunately that leaves me just under 2.5″ of thickness.  The thinner board also had a 1/16″ bow end-to-end after sawing it free that I had to take out before feeding it into the planer.  According to the instructions for the Benchcrafted Criss-Cross, I need a leg chop at least 2.5″ thick because of the large slot I have to cut into it for the mechanism.  I don’t know if the 1/8″ that I’m shy really matters, or if I should add more thickness.  Or maybe recess the mechanism 1/8″ deeper into the leg than the chop.  Maybe it’s worth an email to Jameel at Benchcrafted?

Hi, I'm a troublesome bit of timber and I'm hanging out here "acclimating"

Hi, I’m a troublesome bit of timber and I’m hanging out here “acclimating”

I’d like to tell you that my day in the shop went well after that.  I’d really like to tell you that, but I’d be lying.

First, and this is slightly embarrassing, I decided to install the end vise while my boards sat and reflected on their little attitude problem.  I slid the stool over towards the end of the bench and made to sit down.  Somehow I tripped or lost my balance and fell flat onto the small of my back.  I had a bulging disk that laid me up for a couple of weeks several years ago, so this was a little frightening and fairly painful.  I iced my lower back and took it easy for the rest of the day.  I’m sore, but I don’t think I’ve done anything too serious to my back.

Later I decided to go finish installing the vise.  Moving very carefully so as not to tweak my back, I put in the two screws into the face of the vise, then started to put in the lag bolts that attach the vise to the bottom of the bench.  I started them both by hand (having previously drilled pilot holes and run the bolts in when I test fit it) and put the socket wrench on the bolt to tighten it down.  It snapped, without any pressure on the wrench.  It wasn’t even tightened down.  I think the gods were sending me a message, although I’m not sure if the message was “go lay down” or “don’t buy lag bolts at the hardware store”.

Good. Grief.

Good. Grief.

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5 thoughts on “Fixing the Leg Vise

  1. Man! I had days like that. Take good care of your back and hopefully its nothing more serious. 🙂

  2. Tim Null

    I have been there before. For the chop that you will use every time you use the bench, get a single piece of wood, like hard maple in 12/4. If you can’t find it locally, I have had good luck with Woodworker’s Source. Online wood supply, in Arizona. Hard maple 12/4 is 12.99 a bf. Not cheap, but you can order just what you need. 8″ x 36″ would be 6 bf. Ash is only 7.99 a bf. I used that for the legs of my Roubo, worked out great. If you compromise to make do with what you have you may regret it later. Just my two cents, but I know I always regret not doing things the way they should be done. Good luck with whatever you decide, I enjoy your blog.

    • Thanks for the recommendation to the Woodworker’s Source. I’m going to try to make what I have work, if it delaminates or causes problems later I’ll certainly go with a piece of 12/4 – it should be relatively easy to replace the chop itself.

      I’m not sure what to do about the broken off lag bolt. The vise seems pretty solid as-is, but I expect I’ll be taking it off, finding a way to get the broken part out and re-attaching it. One step forward, five steps back.

      • I had lag bolts break off when installing my chop. Cheap screws are expensive in the long run.

        You might think about the crisscross install before laminating the front. Sawing is always easier than mortising.

  3. “Cheap screws are expensive in the long run.”

    Well that’s for sure. And there seem to be an abundance of cheap lag bolts. I need to find a source for a better quality fastener. I always avoid the coarse-finished galvanized ones.

    My worry about taking this apart? That the wood screws I put into the face will break off.

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