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Vampire Vise

With only six days before Woodworking in America, I’m starting to wonder if I’m going to get everything ready for the big three-day woodworking geek-fest a few blocks away from my shop.

Today I’m putting the finishing touches on one of the two Roman-style workbenches I’ve built for Woodworking in America. I’ll be presenting a seminar on the research and reasoning behind these benches on Sunday morning. But I’ll also have both benches in the Marketplace for you to check out.

The bench shown above is from 1505 and uses a typical Roman undercarriage. What’s unique about this design is that it is the first one I’ve found with a modern end vise and face vise.

Vampire Vise

The end vise is particularly ingenious. Instead of dogs, the vise pinches the work using four metal teeth – two in the dog and two that are attached to the wooden screw. I call it the “vampire vise.” Yes it marks the work – punctures it, actually. But little marks like this were typical on early furniture, so it wouldn’t have been much of a concern at the time. I’m probably going to make a couple “muzzles” for the teeth for when I don’t want to mark the work and when I don’t want to gash my hand.

Vampire Vise

I also need to make the wooden hub of the vise into a square so I can replace the wooden tommy bar with the more-original blacksmith-made crank. But that’s going to have to wait until after Woodworking in America.

Thanks go out to Lake Erie Toolworks for making the excellent wooden screw. I used the standard wooden screw the company makes. And thanks to blacksmith Peter Ross for making the metal bits.

Got to run. Those wooden vise nuts aren’t going to rasp themselves.

— Christopher Schwarz

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  • regalzack

    Hey Chris! I’m not sure if you ever get tired of hearing how your writing & approach is so inspiring–but now you’ve heard it one more time.

    I just finished building a very slightly modified version of your Nicholson workbench and wanted to thank you yet again, I can’t wait to put it to work this week. Here is the last part of the build video if you are curious:

    Anyway, thanks for doing what you do Christopher!

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