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WARNING: The Society for Reverence and Decency in Woodworking Writing has ruled that this particular entry violates several of the organization’s rules. You are warned that this video refers to the musical sub-genre of “wife-swapping music,” and at one point someone says, “Come on ladies, tap that hole.” Please do not let children or sensitive adults watch this video.

Man I %^&$#@* hate thread cutters.

This class at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking almost went off the rails on the first day because of the thread-cutter malfunctions. Yes, plural.

We are building a lot of appliances this week for hand-tool woodworking, including a sweet Moxon double-screw vise. Bob Van Dyke, who runs the school, has carefully prepared some beautiful material. The posts for the screws were prepped on a CNC lathe. They are perfect.

So I thread a post for the vise. It won’t fit in its tapped hole. Hmmm.

I take the cutter apart and increase its depth of cut. The post still won’t fit. Hmmm. I go to increase the depth of cut again, and the brass clamp that holds the cutter in place snaps under finger pressure.


We go to the Woodcraft store and get another thread cutter and scavenge it for parts.

I re-set the whole tool and thread another post. Still too tight. I take the thread-cutting tool apart and nudge the cutter forward. The tip of the cutter breaks off. GRRRRRR.

I replace the cutter and thread another post. It is almost perfect. One more adjustment…. and… uh…. yes, it’s perfect now. Whew.

One of the students turns to me and says: “I love to see you mess up. It makes my heart glad.”

Ha ha.

OK, let’s cut some threads! We start cutting threads, and after 10 seconds the threaded inserts that hold the entire thread-cutting tool come loose. The tool falls into two pieces while in use.

Gun please. What, this is New England? You don’t all have guns? OK, I’ll fix the ^%$@#&* thread cutter.

Ninety minutes later the stupid little tool is threading everyone’s posts like nothing was ever wrong. I hate that tool.

One student said: “Wow! This is so easy!”

— Christopher Schwarz

• You can find plans for the Moxon Double-screw vise in the December 2010 issue of Popular Woodworking.

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Showing 25 comments
  • SmittyUSA

    And American Cheese, my dear friends, is how we keep Chicagoans out of St. Louis.

  • Steve Branam

    Next time you should hold your class in New Hampshire. They all have guns up there (at least judging by the bumper stickers)!

  • Joe Cunningham

    I’m kind of scared to see video from today’s class. I have pics of my progress on my blog. Thankfully that forstner bit and my hand were no where near each other, it just looked that way.

  • K Anderson

    The Beall looks great but the largest one it 1″. Is a 1″ screw big enough for the vise? I thought the article in the magazine called for 1 1/2″ screws.

  • samson141

    Did you know that a Beall – which produces far better threads – can be had for the price of two of these piece of crap Asian thread boxes that at best make mediochre threads?

    I have no connection of Mr. Beall. Just a satisfied customer. But I wonder why, as the father of the Moxon vise revival, you haven’t tried out the Beall alternative?



  • Mitch Wilson

    Well, look on the positive side. Bob will be plying you with some really good pizza before the week is out, pizza that is eminently enjoyable even without any beer. (Hey, this isn’t St. Louis, where they make pizzas with American cheese.)

  • mrogen


    The first time you taught in Germany you described a way to age some hardware. I propose that at the end of the week, or sooner, you gather up all of the screw boxes that sucked and have the class ‘age’ the whole ^%$@#&* lot of them!

    Don’t forget to hydrate properly.

    Enjoy the rest of the week.


  • Andrew Yang

    I fussed with the screw box for a long while before determining that my copy cut a different thread pitch than the tap. This resulted in the screw making it’s way about 3/4 of the way into the hole before binding. Horrible little POS.

    In desperation, I ended buying a Beall thread kit. I think it was double the price but really no comparison.

  • Graham Hughes

    Those things are incredible POSes. When they work, which takes a ton of fiddling, they’re fine, but getting to that point is really hard and I don’t think whoever specced those brass fittings really understood what they were doing. About 50% of them seem to self destruct whenever I touch them wrong.

  • Phil Hirz

    It’s a good thing I’ve been to CVSW recently. Otherwise Chris’ comments would have me wondering whether the school really shared a wall with a Woodcraft or if they were sharing space with a brewery. Of course, there is nothing wrong with alcohol powered handtool woodworking. In fact the first Lie-Nielsen event I ever made it to was held in a winery. How cool is that!

    On that note … “Don’t forget to wipe!”

  • archae

    I must admit that I’ve never used a thread cutter on wood. So is it the quality of the manufacture of the tool or the setup by the user? I bet Moxon encountered similar problems but at least he could complain to the local blacksmith.

  • Richard Dawson

    Either I’m confused, or your spell checker isn’t working. Is it spelled %^&$#@* or ^%$@#&* ?

    Inquiring minds need to know.


  • Megan Fitzpatrick

    Chris used to ask me if he’d “gone too far.” He didn’t ask on this one. Huh.


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