Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I wanna tell you a story 3

An Emmert vice that doesn't rotate is an abomination. Really, if you think about it, it's virtually any old face vice but with big dreams. That won't do, so allowing it to rotate was essential. (I dunno, should I really call it a "vise", it being 'Murrican an' all? But I digress...)I have to say my inability to think in 15 dimensions really didn't help at this stage. It took me ages of paring and testing. At this point I really learnt to hate the end cap - the end grain complicated things just that little bit more.

I'm no carver, and although I think I may have a couple of carving gouges somewhere in the pile o' tools, they're hardly ready for use, so I resorted to using a couple on in-cannel firmer gouges. They did pretty well, but did I mention I'm no carver? Yeah, well, this confirmed it. Thank God for the invention of the drum sander, s'all I'm going to say on that...

As you could see from that photo, another dog hole was rapidly ceasing to exist. Really I should have blocked it off before I started, but I got away with it. Only downside is the beech I had available to use for the job is much whiter than the bench, so although the fit is good, it doesn't exactly blend in. Heigh ho. Also evidence of when tiredness overcomes good practice; nasty breakout on the bottom edge from cross grain work after a failure to appreciate that the initial chamfer had been obliterated by the amount of wood I'd had to remove. Annoying, but not fatal.

Planing up the beech to plug the dog hole was interesting. The only accessible means of holding it was the front edge of the tail vice, but that was with the bench still resting on its edge and therefore hardly a secure platform. I resorted to Eastern practices and used my small Mujingfang plane on the pull stroke, so I could keep the workbench upright at the same time. I'm not going to dump all my Western pushing planes as a result, but in this kind of situation, it proved to be a bit of a life saver.

Meanwhile a third dog hole was looking decidedly ropey. I'm reluctant to lose it completely - after all, you never know when you might need it - so I chiseled off the wafer thin section to at least leave a stronger edge. Don't anticipate it being a problem, but I'll see how it goes and can always fill it in later if necessary.

And the completed curvy cut out. No, it doesn't necessarily rotate completely at any tilt angle, but I'll wait and see if that's a problem. If it is, I will joyously embrace further hours of paring and fitting. And if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you...

Houston, we have rotation. I first 360° spin was, I admit, a bit of a buzz. I did it a couple of times, just for the hell of it. I may have gone "Wheeeee" as I did so, but I ain't telling.

Around this point, my view of the Emmert switched from "millstone around my neck (or ankles)" to "Ooo, I could like this". This is a Good Thing. Thus, with renewed appetite for the battle, I approached the matter of the space for the beam.

More sawing, chiselling - with yet another (shorter) chisel, 'cos now I was working with a restricted space - and I had a perfectly fitting hole. Which was stupid, because obviously I needed to make it wide enough to allow the beam to rotate too. So a bit more sawing and chiselling later...

Yes, the tilt adjust mechanism has put in an appearance too. The Emmert instructions advise benches under 3" thick should have a padding piece added under the bracket, which I duly did. Quite a lot of padding in the end, to bridge the pocket in the bench top where the nut for the bolt holding on that pesky end cap resides, and to stop the tilt bar hitting the front edge of the tool tray as it moved downwards. Besides, it seemed to me that, within reason, the more accessible the lever was, the better.

All looking very purposeful at this point. Great.

So then I took it all apart again in order to flip the top back over.

Well removed the jaws anyway. Sigh. But by this stage the finishing line definitely felt in sight.


  1. You are a very soul Alf. I don't think I would attempt the surgery you did on your bench, on mine. I don't think I could stop crying long enough to do the job.

  2. I'm getting Deja vu. :-)

    Remember when you chisel out for the beam, to fit with the vise rotated at 45 degrees. That'll tell you how deep you REALLY need to go to allow not just the jaws, but the beam to rotate as well.

    And rotating at an angle... Tilting is another rotation, around the hinge. Trace the hinge barrel profile onto your top front edge, and shape the front edge to that profile. That should fix whatever 'rotation at an angle' problems you run into.

  3. I was pondering the vise on the drive home tonight...

    Somewhere on the Emmert instruction sheet, (no idea where I saw it) they mentioned mounting so that the rear jaw is 1/8" proud of the front edge of the bench. I haven't drawn anything out yet, but I have a feeling this is more important than I realized. Mine ended up about like that, and I was ok with it, but I think that, with the tilting axis just below the surface of the bench, having the jaws proud of the front edge may help to clear the front edge.

    Maybe it's too late, I don't know, but I figured I'd pass it on to you anyway.

  4. Yeah, they do say about mounting it slightly proud of the bench edge. I pondered long over what to do, and eventually decided I'd take the rear jaw being flush over the more esoteric tilt 'n' rotate angles. Time will tell if I come to regret it, I suppose.

    RJB, "a very *blank* soul". Hmm, let me guess the missing word. "foolish", "insane", "lunatic"...? ;)


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