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Questions answered on vises

I thought that this questioner might answer some questions for others. Up front I should say that these are my views and I am sure that others have theirs. I don’t think that mine are difinitive and I will say that we should look at the issues as woodworkers open to change.

Hi Paul,

Thanks again for a wonderful bench building video. I had a vise question. Veritas has a twin screw vise with 24″ between the screws that I’ve heard is great for hand made dovetails on pieces like hope/blanket chest. Do you see this as a useful feature?  I like watching you work with the steel quick release vise and was thinking of installing the twin screw on the front/face of the bench and a quick release on the end.

Thanks in advance,

J G

P.S. any thoughts as to dog holes or dogs? (Not the cute furry kind. LOL)

On practical vises

This really is  a matter of personal preference. I have used wide twin-screw vises from time to time but find them generally cumbersome for my type of daily work; that is, for the two or three times a year that I might find them useful for wide stuff, I don’t think that they would really suit me and my benchwork. I do however admire them and especially the ones that are well engineered.

Practically speaking

Now if the majority of my work was making wide-board dovetails then they might have greater value to me. I am sure the Shakers would have found that to be so. For wide board joinery I have a system that’s both fast and practical. I clamp a 2×2 on either side of the joint end and clamp that to my benchtop and apron. Simple, quick and effectively solid.

Quick release vises

Today I find large-size quick release vises to be fast acting, board-grabbing and weighty enough to take the mallet blows without damaging the mechanisms or the bench. I have used one of my Record vises for about 40 years and it was at least that old when I got it secondhand from an old English joiner who like me used it every single day of his working life.

Now yesterday I received delivery of five Record vises I bought for £32 pounds each on Ebay delivered. When the old Record company produced these before sellout to Rubbermaid they cost £130. Now I hasten to say here that Irwin Record is not Record. Or at least it is not the Record company of Sheffield I grew up with in the 60s and 70s. A company owned by the US magnate Rubbermaid cannot have the same ethos the originators of Record had when they established their reputation in the same way Record couldn’t have what Joseph Marples had prior to that amalgamation as Record Marples. Remember that these companies today have no loyalty and no compunction in that they buy and sell each other in the same way we might change our under shirts in Houston Texas. How can a plastic bucket and bin maker who sold off most of Record engineering when it was taken over by them have much care about tool making beyond selling plastic handles on their now disposable saws? I am using saws made well over 100 years ago in my everyday work. I just bought a R Groves 10″ brass backed dovetail tenon saw for £19 delivered on Ebay. This 150 year old saw will outlive me by another 150 years. Using my sharpening techniques (next video series for Youtube) this saw cuts fast and effectively both with and across the grain. In other words there is more to a saw than just cutting 2x4s and wafer board. Ever tried ripping down a 2×4 with an Irwin blue-handled hard-point saw?

On the point of Dog holes in benches. I will be posting on this in my bench making retrofit after the bench is completed and the vises are installed. Dogs are not as essential as many gurus making benches make out and everything a dog will do can be readily done with clamps. At the risk of heresy, most of my benchtop work has been done with 1/2″ cleats screwed into the bench top and wedged as necessary. And that’s how most of the joiners and cabinet makers (furniture makers UK) did it too. I do not recall ever seeing a cabinetmaker’s workshop (not same as kitchen cabinet makers US) or joiner’s workshop that had dogs in sight. But I will be showing you how to retrofit non-dogging vises to make them doggedly determined for clamping a` la benchtop and also a dogging system that is inexpensive and effective. Another point, Joel of Gramercy fame, (www.tools forworkingwood.com) has produced the finest bench hold fast I have ever used. I wish I could get them here in the UK. Two swift clouts on the hump and holdfast locks down a 2×4 to the benchtop in a heartbeat and a third judiciously struck blow releases it. Anyway, these are most useful for practical benchtop holding. One of these on the bench and nothing moves. Two of them will resolve many issues surrounding dogging.

I WILL BE POSTING ON THE WORKBENCH PROGRESS LATER TODAY

14 Comments

  1. Joel on 20 June 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Paul,
     Thanks for you kind remarks on our holdfasts. You should know that Joseph Marples was never bought out  by Record and is in fact still a going concern run by Tony Marples. http://www.marples.co.uk.  The Marples that was folded in to Record was from a different branch of the family. I do however agree with your comments on the modern, made in China, Irwin/Record vises.



  2. Paul Sellers on 20 June 2012 at 8:39 pm

    Personally I think these vises are too small. 7″ wide instead of 9″ and more limited opening that’s one thing, weight is another. The weight of the vise counters hammer blows in chopping, especially mortises on small sections of wood when they are difficult to chop on the benchtop.
    I would go fro the bigger vises if you can.



  3. Paul Sellers on 20 June 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Oops! Sorry to all.



  4. Paul Sellers on 20 June 2012 at 9:00 pm

    The big bench build is done and standing in my lawn in the back of the house. Rock solid with wedges in.



  5. Paul Sellers on 21 June 2012 at 5:13 am

    I like the jaw proud of the apron and especially so because I sometime s need to remove the vise to work on them or transport my benches. These vises way in at about 30 pounds so that makes three of them around 90 plus the bench. Too heavy for an old man like me to tote around. More than that. Recessing the back jaw narrows the distance between the work piece I lift into the vise. I can grip a 2×2 with my left and have my fingers between the piece and the apron and secure it with my right. If the gap is too small I must handle it differently and a on a minute by minute bases that gets irksome. On the vises I use I can clamp an eight foot long 2×12 in the vise with no issues. Thinner and thicker boards too. I recently had some massive doors I was making for the castle in the vise with no issues. I am not opposed in any way to putting screws into my aprons and screwing blocks in to support it. This modern day business of making a bench look like a pristine dining table is miserable. Work benches are work benches. I have no issues screwing cleats onto my benchtops either. That doesn’t mean that I am in any way wrong and neither does it mean that those who don’t are wrong either. Fact is I can do more, that’s all.



  6. Sylvain VN on 21 June 2012 at 10:50 am

    Paul,
    For those of us who don’t live in US or UK.
    For the workbenches of your US school, vises made by YORK in Czech Republic have been used.
    What is your experience with them so far?
    On their web site the quick release vises exist in 3 working length (205, 360 or 390 mm). Do you recommend to have the biggest possible (total length compatible with the bench width) or is the smallest one good enough?



    • Paul Sellers on 21 June 2012 at 6:29 pm

      I posted on my blog yesterday headed Questions answered – Veritas vises
      Hope it helps.



      • Sylvain VN on 22 June 2012 at 2:14 pm

        Paul
         I have now understood that Veritas vises you were refering to, are in fact York vises (blog “installing vises”) and that the model with 360mm working length were used (blog “looking for good add-vise” : 9″wide; this late dimension is given on the Lee-valley site but not on the York site).

        So the only problem was with the cinching of the parallel bars.



  7. Mike Lark on 19 March 2015 at 4:51 pm

    Hi Paul,

    I have an old record 52 1/2 which I bought secondhand in South Africa some years back. I have cleaned and waxed everything but the quick release, releases when I try to clamp it tight. It will grip fairly well if I force the release lever out as it tightens. is there any adjustments you could suggest to remedy this? Do you know if anyone sells replacement parts for this model?



    • Paul Sellers on 19 March 2015 at 10:58 pm

      That means something is sticking. the first place to check is where the jaw linings you installed meet the two plane guide bars either side of the threaded centre bar. If these are tight they prevent the mechanism working well. There should be a gap of any size between the bars and the bottom edge of the linings.



      • cachorromike on 20 March 2015 at 11:02 am

        Paul,

        Thank you for the prompt reply and thank you so much for the information, your blood is worth bottling mate! The jaw liners were in fact too far above the guide bars, took the wood out and she clamps together perfectly. How much clearance should I leave with the new ones, just enough to clear the bars?



        • Paul Sellers on 20 March 2015 at 11:04 am

          Good guess.



        • Paul Sellers on 20 March 2015 at 2:39 pm

          Yes, and then check that they don’t slip.



  8. Tom K. on 6 June 2015 at 4:27 pm

    Dear Mr. Sellers,

    the holdfasts you were writing above can be purchased via «Dieter Schmid – Fine Tools» — a German online shop from Berlin. They are shipping to the UK as I can see.

    http://www.fine-tools.com/holdfast.html

    Oh, an by the way: in Germany you can purchase the «Aldi-chisels» also via the Lidl-discounter. I guess they are pretty much the same: http://www.lidl.de/de/powerfix-stechbeitelsatz-4-teilig/p193514?searchTrackingQuery=stechbeitel&searchTrackingId=Product.193514&searchTrackingPos=1&searchTrackingOrigPos=1&searchTrackingPage=1&searchTrackingPageSize=36&searchTrackingOrigPageSize=36

    Unfortunately Lidl-online seems not to ship to the UK…

    Greetings From Augsburg,
    Tom K.



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