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Making My Bed & QR Vises With Grip


My head and footboard look good as a pair at last and tomorrow the cloudlifts will complete them. It was interesting as I worked yesterday, working through the the final finessing and clean up, putting my tools up and sharpening them for the close-out, sweeping off the bench for what I calculate conservatively is the 35,000th time (if I do it twice a day, which I usually do) I felt that very unique sense of fulfilment I always enjoy when I progress the closing hours of a job like this. I can’t explain it and don’t want to try. You feel it, we all feel it at different times.

DSC_0006The restored part recaptured all lost effort from the other day and I was able to move reflectively in preparation for more French polishing of the outer faces. Soon I will install the ironware for the side rails and then the boards to support the box spring and mattress.

DSC_0010I received a series of successive emails about older Record vises. Questions on their worth. How to repair them if not functioning. Things like that. I say older because the modern-day counterparts manufactured for Irwin Record are not the same vise, not made in Sheffield or England and not, therefore, the same product as those older models from the pre-Irwin era I am recommending Record vises are good from.

There are several Record vises made that are just excellent vises. The quick release ones are the most practical, but even the ones that are not quick release are fast because the thread pattern is faster and you can spin many revolutions with a simple and quick flick of the wrist. Someone earlier this year wrote that, and I quote: “quick-release vises don’t hold much of anything” and of course I countered this at the time because it simply wasn’t anywhere near the truth. Here is a good picture that is holding the heavy headboard that takes every ounce of my strength to lift bodily 2” from the floor. DSC_0014Notice that it is suspended by one leg and, most importantly, that it’s not centred anywhere near the centre of the vise either. The quick-release vise is holding over 200lbs with no cantilever countering any weight and I did not cinch the vise up to anywhere near maximum pressure at all. So, contrary to what was said, Record quick-release vises, along with Jorgensen and many many others, grip like nothing else. More on this later.

In conclusion

It has always been hard to beat the English Record vises of pre-millennia models in my book. I like heavy vises because they are designed to wrestle wood in and indeed, contrary to what many today say, chop mortises in. As a boy I never saw joiners chop mortises on the bench top but always in the vise. Record and other makes are regularly available on eBay if you don’t mind that less than perfect look of an older vise and the extra shipping prices. I know this may not help our US fraternity too much but they do come up there too and they also have excellent US makes. Paying a $100-150 for a secondhand lifetime vise is not too much either. A small price to pay. 


  1. H i l t o n (@HiltonRalphs) on 31 December 2013 at 11:46 am

    Yes but the US fraternity get to purchase the excellent vises from Lee Valley. The shipping costs on these would be exorbitant to South Africa.

    • Paul Sellers on 31 December 2013 at 3:13 pm

      Hi Ralph, Yes, I have heard that some things are hard to get in South Africa and I am sorry if I seem more partial toward the US. It’s really more that I relate to the US because I lived there for almost half my life. That said, I want to help on every continent and I think that we woodworkers can help one another by making the problem known. I will mention this issue on my blog and see if there are people on your continent that may be able to guide us.

  2. bobeaston on 31 December 2013 at 11:55 am

    The bed is looking wonderful!

    Good rebuttal about the vise’s holding power. My bench’s rather wimpy leg vise could use some help. Maybe….

    I see again a mention of French polish, and am curious about the technique you use. Many times, French polish implies hours and hours of work. Yet, you mention it in passing with little detail, as if it were similar to your “few seconds” of sanding. Someday, could you schedule a French polishing lesson? THANKS in advance!

    • Paul Sellers on 31 December 2013 at 3:09 pm

      We will be doing more and more on finishing and that will include French polishing, which does not take days but a few minutes for each coat. Nothing more than a little patience and knowing what to do if something goes amiss. Bit like working wood generally.

  3. Steve Massie on 31 December 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Paul your Bed turned out really nice, great job. And I also want to Thank You for the suggestion on my problem with the quick release “opening” the vise. You were right on, few minutes to enlarge the notch for the bar and it works wonderfully.apparently it was getting hung up there.

    I concur these vise’s are of top quality and the holding power is tremendous, really nice heavy duty vise’s.

    Thanks again and Happy New Year to you and your Family.


  4. Keith on 25 October 2015 at 6:22 pm

    Love the bed. recently bought a lion Vice. seems idential to a Record, but made in India. Good price, will see if it is as good. It has lasted a good number of years so far, if I am reading the date on the casting correctly.

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