Chris Schwarz's Blog

Close Enough for Horseshoes and Handplaning

Forgive the dearth of sparkling prose in what you’re about to read; I’m worn out. It’s been a mad rush to get this bench done in time for Woodworking in America, and both Chris and I have been in nights and weekends working on it (and even when Chris has been out of town, he’s had to put up with my questions via phone, text and e-mail). But we’re going to make it…with some caveats.

On Monday evening, we cut the mortises and tenons for the base and dry-fit it. We got the top most of the way on, and I shaped the chop (after much discussion as to the proper curves) and fit, glued and wedged the parallel guide (as Chris was simultaneously finishing up his wooden square for the December issue).

On Tuesday, we finished massaging the top joinery with the kind assistance of our friend Narayan Nayar, who flew in a few days ahead of the conference to help us with last-minute stuff. Now, everything is glued together and I pounded in oak wedges alongside each tenon to tighten things up. (Honestly, the top is tight enough that it didn’t really need glue, but because we had some leftover epoxy from Chris’s recent bench build, why not use it up?)

And, the Glide vise is almost installed. (Even if I have to stay into the wee hours on Wednesday, it will be done and working perfectly by Thursday morning.) This install has been a new process for all of us, and it’s quite different in some ways than installing a wooden screw – most notably, the system uses two shop-made brackets on which the parallel guide rolls. But it will be worth the extra effort. The Glide clamps the chop down tight with just a gentle spin of the 8″ wheel, which makes workholding almost effortless (and it’s shiny!).

Now the caveats: While the chop is cut to its basic shape, I won’t have time before Thursday (when we’re moving everything down to the convention center) to chamfer the edges and relieve the top and bottom edges with the gentle curves I’ve planned. The legs won’t yet be lightened up by stopped chamfers (and perhaps lamb’s tongues). There will be no shelf installed underneath. Most curious perhaps, there will be no end vise – and that’s because I have yet to find the perfect vintage one to contrast the high-tech look of the Glide (I’m drawn to eclecticism). But there are dog holes, so a surface clamp will work for now.

So is this bench really done? Well, no. But it’s close enough for horseshoes and handplaning.

- Megan Fitzpatrick

14 thoughts on “Close Enough for Horseshoes and Handplaning

  1. Albert Gauché

    Megan,

    You have made a very nice work bench. I understand the disparity of being vertically challenged (5’2" myself). I have two questions. Do you plan on adding a "crochet" as per Andre Roubo’s plate 11 depiction of his bench in "L’Art Du Menuisier" volume 1. And if not why?

    Merci millefois,

    Albert Gauché

  2. Rob Shively

    Megan,
    The bench looks really cool and I appreciate your tips on proper bench height because I’m the same height as you. But what I really want to comment on is that 3.75 cats officially qualifies you as a "crazy cat lady." Two of the fur-covered tyrants is any reasonable person’s limit.
    Rob

  3. Neil

    Megan…….COOL!!! That’s really what "Woodworking in American" used to be about. Getting ready to show. The push, the late nights, finding time to e-mail the community, the desire to get the object there. It’s the championship rounds 14 and 15 that tell the story.

    This post speaks to an area of woodworking most don’t know of and could very well be the first lesson of WIA.

    Impressed……..Neil

  4. theloveofwood.blogspot.com

    The Benchcrafted vices are a pleasure to use. I have to admit though installing them on my bench took a while… it didn’t help that I re-designed the brackets and added a few decorative touches.

    Issues I had were making the parallel guide perfectly parallel to the screw. On the first fit it become bound and actually loosened my m&t joint on the chop. doh.

    One modification that worked exceptionally well were making some larger diameter handles (~45-50mm). These sit nicely in the palm of the hand and are a pleasure to use. If anyone;s interested there’s more info on my blog.

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