Chris Schwarz's Blog

Making a Vise Chop for a Benchcrafted Classic

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I started making the wooden vise chop for a new leg vise for my Holtzapffel workbench (featured in “The Workbench Design Book”) using some crazy new hardware from Benchcrafted: the Classic vise screw and the Crisscross.

The only downside to the Crisscross part of the assembly is that you need a vise chop that is quite thick – 3” is a good thickness. I don’t have any maple in my shop that thick, so I laminated the vise chop from two 1-3/4”-thick slabs of soft maple.

I prefer soft maple (whenever possible) because it’s cheaper, easier to work and (in my experience) more likely to be figured. Plus, few people can tell the difference between soft and hard maple. They are both plenty hard.

After laminating up my chop, however, I realized I’d made an error. I used hide glue to laminate the chop instead of yellow glue. The problem is that I have a SawStop, which has flesh-detecting technology. Even when hide glue is fully cured, it sets off the Saw Stop. It’s like having a little layer of hot dog inside.*

So I’ll have to finish shaping the chop with a handsaw or a band saw.

— Christopher Schwarz

* This is a total lie. It’s actually like having a layer of horsemeat inside your lignum. Wait. Aren’t hot dogs horsemeat? And fly parts? I forget. Oh, and hide glue doesn’t set off your SawStop, either.

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21 thoughts on “Making a Vise Chop for a Benchcrafted Classic

  1. joinerman

    This post is hilarious, you got chops man. I love a good joke!

    One thing leaves me pondering though; I was about to give hide-glue a try,- now I am hesitating.
    Where you serious about using yellow glue instead for this application?
    IS hide-glue reversible on a chop this size ?

    1. Christopher SchwarzChristopher Schwarz Post author

      Hide glue is always reversible. The only downside to it (as I see it) is its shelf life. But I have never thrown any out because I use it up before it goes bad.

      I use hide glue in some form for almost everything.

  2. GTBurbank

    Good point about soft maple and figure. I prefer to use soft maple for painted millwork, and out of every load I find a handful of figured boards, with 2-5 top notch ones for every 250 bf. As it doesn’t machine cleanly through the shaper and moulder, employees avoid it as “defects” because of the extra sanding it will cause them. My “stash” pile currently has 200 bf of curly “defective” maple.

  3. abt

    Chris doesn’t need my defense, but I guess 7-thumbs knows it all (though the name might lead one to think otherwise).

    I for one, probably would have wondered if building the vice from lamination would produce a weaker vice. And two, that soft maple will do if hard maple isn’t available, price or locale being a factor. Both questions are now answered. I want to see what other issues Chris runs into on this addition, as benches are something he’s put considerable time and effort on, and has some very useful insight into their construction and modification.

    If folks aren’t interested in a particular editors post, why waste time complaining when there’s so much else here to read? Being a troll is something 14 year old boys do. It’s unbecoming behavior for adults (or anyone for that matter) here.

  4. 7-Thumbs

    What was the point of this article? Nice to have a job where you’re paid to write this kind of stuff. Is PW getting desperate for really informative online articles?

      1. pmac

        I’m feeling a little guilty. I seem to have been getting all this for free. Being hopelessly honest, is there someone I should contact to make this right?

          1. pmac

            Well shoot. I wish I’d known that yesterday. I just sent my renewal payment there and I would have combined payments had I known. Oh well, I guess I’m out the cost of another stamp.

    1. Thomas

      Yes, I am sure Chris is getting loaded by blogging!?!? What color Ferrari did you buy this year Chris? I really enjoy the pointless and pointed blogging here as I assume many others do. I look forward to some tool and woodworking articles as a change of pace from the general bad news out there. Many times i learn, other times i don’t. By all means, please keep up the good work, thanks!!
      No comment on flesh-detecting.

    2. gumpbelly

      As already mentioned some posts give me more info than others, this may have been a so so post in the history of all posts.

      That was until “We will be happy to refund the charge to your credit card for this blog post, 7-Thumbs.”

      That single line in response to your fine whine moved it way up the list, possibly even into top 10 range.

      Well done Mr Schwarz, well done.

      The point here, Mr more than the normal amount of thumbs, is that if something you get for free isn’t the sun and the moon to you, just move along, lest there be no more free posts.

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