Drilling the Holes in the Vise Chops

Continuing on with the never ending workbench project!  I have made the chops for the vises and now I need to drill the holes for the guide rods and main screw.

Here’s a picture from an earlier post.  I made a template of the side view of the vise base plate.  You can just see the pin pricks that I made marking the dead center of the three holes that need to be drilled.

Making a template for the two face vises.

Making a template for the two face vises.

I used an awl and marked these three holes on a piece of scrap ¾” plywood.  I was very concerned with the accuracy of these holes, so I carefully calibrated the table on my drill press.  I wanted to make sure that I was exactly 90° left to right and front to back.  I drilled the two 20mm holes first and then used the big 30mm bit.  These bits have a very fine brad point that made it quite easy to align the bit with the mark made by the awl.

The bits that I am using are Colt Twinlands.  I wrote about ordering them in an earlier post.  I ordered all of the drill bits from Traditional Woodworker and was happy with their service.

Using the paper templates, I marked the hole centers on some ¾" plywood and did a test run.

Using the paper templates, I marked the hole centers on some ¾” plywood and did a test run.

Look at this 30mm bit, it’s almost as big as the chuck!

The 30mm bit really is massive.

The 30mm bit really is massive.

With all three holes drilled, I got out some of the vise hardware to check the fit.  As my old Grandad would have said, “It fits like a cork up a monkey’s…..”

I checked the fit for the guide rods and screw.

I checked the fit for the guide rods and screw.

Okay, so each part fits in its hole, but is the spacing right?  To check that, I had to add a face plate.  I was happy to see that it fit perfectly.

I also checked the fit of the face plate to ensure I had the correct spacing.

I also checked the fit of the face plate to ensure I had the correct spacing.

 

I guess I got lucky, because it was a perfect fit.

I guess I got lucky, because it was a perfect fit.

I was a little surprised.  I figured that I would have to experiment with the spacing a little to get a perfect setup.  To make sure that the rods weren’t skewed in the holes, I added the base plate into the test fit equation.  If the rods and screw are fitting in both the face plate at one end and the base plate in the other, and the plywood doesn’t bind, then all is good.

I added the base plate to make sure that it would all align.

I added the base plate to make sure that it would all align.

As I said, I originally thought that I would have to make a few test drills to get what I needed, but this first one was great.  I trimmed the plywood scrap down and I’ll use it as a drilling template.  I added some reference lines with a square and rule.  A horizontal line through the two guide rod holes and a vertical line bisecting the big screw hole.  I then added some pencil reference lines to the vise chops to help me accurately position the template on the chop.

With the template in the right spot, I went all Norm Abrams on it, and fired in a few brads with the nail gun.  The brads will hold the template in place while I drill the holes. I made sure the nail holes are in a spot that will be covered by the vise hardware.

I aligned the template on the vise chop and tacked it in place with some 18ga brads.

I aligned the template on the vise chop and tacked it in place with some 18ga brads.

Back at the drill press, I aligned the bit in the template hole and drilled through.  With the 30mm bit, this generated a lot of heat and I probably got the drill bit hotter than I should have.  The 20mm bit wasn’t an issue, but I adjusted the belts to slow the press down to 500rpm for the rest of the holes.

I used the template to locate my holes.

I used the template to locate my holes.

With all three holes done, I did another test assembly.

A test assembly.

A test assembly.

Everything lined up well, even with the base plate installed.

I checked that the base plate still fit.

I checked that the base plate still fit.

I continued the process and drilled the holes in all four vise chops.  I was really happy with these Colt TwinLand drill bits.  As long as you don’t crank down on the handle of the drill press, they leave an incredibly smooth hole.   It was a little nerve wracking drilling the 30mm holes.  I was worried that the bit might bite and grab the work-piece.  A large chunk of wood like that in a powerful drill press could break a finger or hand.  All went well though, and I am able to slowly peck out this post with two hands instead of one.

Next, I’ll be making the decorative skirts that cover the vise hardware.

 

– Jonathan White

About Jonathan

I am a woodworker and hand tool restorer / collector. I buy too many tools and don't build enough - I need help!
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2 Responses to Drilling the Holes in the Vise Chops

  1. This is what I wanted to see/read – how drilling the holes would line up and if any fussing would be necessary. You showed one vise chop, how did the second one come out?

    • Jonathan says:

      Hey Ralph,

      By using the plywood template as a guide for the drill, all four came out great. I think that the extra time I spent finely adjusting the drill press table was worth the effort. Even so, I made sure not to rotate the chops on the drill press table in between holes. I just slid it along and drilled the next hole. That way, if there was any error, all three hols would have the same error. I had been worrying for a while about how to do this, but it ended up being much easier than I had anticipated. I think that the plywood template being right first time really helped.

      Jonathan

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