Monday, February 14, 2011

I wanna tell you a story...

Ah, starting a blog entry with Max Bygraves; never a good sign.

Now strictly speaking I'm not done, but I promised more detail and the theory is that if I do this in instalments, by the time I get to the end, I will actually have, um, got to the end. That's the theory.

So, last March, I think it was, I got an email telling me "You're about to get a weird email". Arguably I'd just received one, but no, I was to expect another one. Thus, in April, I received - well, not so much a weird email as an unexpected email, asking me if it would be okay to ship the Emmert vice this week. Well after I'd picked myself up off the floor and processed the whole concept of orphaned vices turning up on the doorstep, I agreed it was. Quelling the urge to move house before it could get here, the saga began. Hit the "emmert" tag at the bottom of the post, and you can refresh your memory. But take note, gentle reader - it's been under a year. I'm speeding up in my old age...

Well having finally decided that it was going to go on my existing bench after all, first step was to mark out where it was going to go. I nicked a cunning tip from James Watriss' blog of clamping a board in the existing face vice, then clamping the Emmert on the board to get it lined up. (He's subsequently appeared in the comments box, so hello and thank you, James!) The result:

The next step was to remove the existing face vice; which is large and heavy. This is a running theme with this whole task. So are bruises. My bruises have bruises from moving, lifting, inadvertently walking into, and generally encountering heavy lumps of cast iron and beech. You don't tend to notice at the time - except knocking your shin on an Emmert vice jaw, which you really do. A lot. I've never physically hopped across the workshop swearing a blue streak before, but I bet it would have been amusing for an observer.

Where was I? Oh yeah. Then I drafted in the unskilled labour to help me lift the bench top off its trestle base and onto the saw horses. I've mentioned the saw horses before, haven't I? And how brilliant they are. Well next time I'm making three. Two for the work and one for me to sit down on in a state of exhaustion... Once the bench top was on edge, I propped it up with a length of 3x2 against the Maxi 26 so at least it wouldn't fall over one way. This was just as well, as it turned out, because the one time it did fall over - loudly and terrifyingly - it fell away from me. Which as I was crouching down at the time was just as well, or I'd have had one hell of a headache. At best. You can't blame the bench top for trying to get away though, when I did this to it.

Keep an eye on the background in these pics, and see how the number of tools used steadily mounts up. Or in this case, the foreground, where the oak mallet I made years ago still refuses to die as I wield it mercilessly on an assortment of chisels, trying to find the best one for the job. Turns out, despite my little chisel problem, I don't have a long, wide, beat-to-death chisel amongst them. But I managed.

The idea was to make as close a fit to the rear jaw as possible to start with, and then go from there. Speed of progress wasn't helped by the nature of the beech being such that it naturally wanted to run out to the top side when I spit it off. Such is life - and wood.

Spokeshaves were out of their depth with this job, or I was. Maybe both of us. But a combination of a Stanley #78 (Type 1 - no depth stop or fence) and wooden rounds worked across grain worked splendidly.

Step two was to cut the notch to take the bulk of the hinged mounting plate. Bye-bye to our first dog hole, and yet more of my precious bench. *sob*

Same saw and chisel procedure as before. If you've been reading this blog since I made the chair, you might recall how my thumb joints strongly protested about the mallet work? They still do, it seems. Sigh.

By this point I was thinking that a little electrickery was required, if I wasn't to still be doing this by next Christmas. Plus the lack of a useable workbench was really getting me down. To those who believe you have to build your workbench to be properly attached to it, I say 'tis not so. I was like a woman missing a limb the whole eight days while the bench was out of action. Horrible, 'twas.

Indeed such was my mentally weakened state, I...

Reader, I got out the router.

But I'll tell you how that went in the next entry ;)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Alf!

    Very glad to be of help! And thanks for the nod... looks like you've sent a few people my way already. : )

    The vise looks great. I just read through the long story behind it, and can report a similar story on this end. I had it for roughly a year and a half, with similar shin bruises, before I finally snapped one day and decided it was time.

    I do have thoughts of taking it back off, stripping it down and re-painting it. I haven't completely given up on the idea either. But I made the lunatic decision to do this for a living, so I may not have time to go that crazy for a while yet.


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