This week I’m building a pair of portable workbenches for an upcoming issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine and spent yesterday turning lots and lots of threads for the vise and for the garbage can.
Instead of using a manual threadbox for these benches, I decided to try the Beall Tool Co. wood threading system. It uses a router to power the threadbox to make the screws. The holes are tapped as usual with a manual (but very nice) tap.
I’m going to write up some details for the magazine, but here are a few hints.
1. Avoid store-bought dowels. I bought a few dowels to practice on and get the jig set up. Bad idea. Even though I picked the best 1-1/4” dowels from the rack, they were still oval-shaped. As a result, they would jam in the threader. Instead of buying some of the Chinese-made dowels that look like poplar, you should flush your money down the toilet – it’s the same thing. Threading those things was like shoving wet toilet paper into a kitchen disposal. The results were not pretty.
2. Hard, diffuse-porous woods such as maple seem to work better than ring-porous woods such as oak. The threads were less likely to chip out.
3. Beall sells precision dowel stock, but I just turned my own. I turned my dowels a few thou under 1-1/4”, which went through the threader smoothly.
4. Longer lengths are better – up to a point. I found that turning and then threading 12” lengths was pretty ideal. Longer lengths got wobbly on the lathe. Shorter lengths were more difficult to manage in the threader.
5. Little adjustments make a huge difference. Dropping the router a few thou was the difference between bad threads and good threads.
The video below shows what the process looks like. (The music is “Laid Ten Dollars Down” by the Black Twig Pickers.)
— Christopher Schwarz
• This bench is based closely on The Milkman’s Workbench that I wrote about last year. Check out the photos here.
• I’ve written a ton about workbenches here on the blog. You can read it all for free here.
• ShopWoodworking carries both of the books I’ve written about workbenches. Check those out here – “Workbenches” and “The Workbench Design Book.” Or you can see all the material we have in the store on workbenches using this link.
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