With the vise chops made and the holes drilled, I turned my attention to making the decorative skirts that will hide the vise hardware. When I was milling up the sapele that I used while making the benchtop, I managed to save one piece. I knew that I would be adding skirts in front of the vise hardware, so this piece has been squirreled away since June.
I traced the bottom half of the vise templates onto the board with a sharpie. I’m not worried about the ink as this still has to go through the planer. This is just to give me a rough idea of how I will cut out all the parts.
I took a handsaw and cut off the wider part of the board in the above picture. I trued up one edge on the jointer and then made the other parallel at the tablesaw.
The board had a slight bow to it and I was concerned about the final thickness. I cut the board into two pieces before jointing the face flat. This saves time and wood thickness, as a bow is greatly reduced by shortening a board.
With the bowed face down, I jointed each board. With the boards flattened and the bow gone, I fed each piece through my planer. I wanted the skirt pieces to be the same thickness as the sapele edges on the workbench top. I thought the bow in the board might preclude this, but I was wrong. It came out exactly the same.
Once both faces of the board had been planed, I went back to the jointer to make sure that both edges were dead on 90° to the face. Normally I wouldn’t joint both edges on the jointer as it risks taking the board out of parallel, but in this case it doesn’t matter as all the skirts have to be cut out at the bandsaw and each piece only comes off one edge of the board.
I traced around the bottom of each vise chop, not the template. This way each skirt will be matched to it’s corresponding chop and any deviation from the template that was created when I smoothed the chops will be duplicated on the skirt.
You can just see the pencil lay out lines below:
I went to the bandsaw and cut out all four parts.
To smooth away the bandsaw marks and fair the curves, I took advantage of my drill press. I mounted a drum sander in the chuck and cleaned up the cuts. I couldn’t do this with the vise chops as they were too thick.
The drum sander couldn’t get to all of the curve, so I cleaned the rest up with hand tools.
The veritas shoulder plane was particularly useful in making the ogee transition look nice and crisp.
Once all the curves were smooth, I sanded everything to 220 and broke all the sharp edges and points.
Then it hit me!!!
I remember that about three weeks ago, as I was cogitating on how I was going to make and install the vises, I thought to myself, “I must remember that the legs cover part of the vise skirt.” Guess what? I forgot! To show you what I mean, I set up an example below.
I took one of the vise and chop assemblies and placed it in the location where it will be installed (it’s just placed there, not bolted in).
I have already laid out location for the legs in anticipation of chopping the mortises. They are marked in pencil on the benchtop. When I cut the legs to length I saved one of the off-cuts. I put the leg off-cut exactly where the leg will be on the finished bench.
The legs will be flush with the front edge of the bench top… So will the vise skirts! Are you seeing what I did?
I’ll continue with the vise skirt installation, but at some point before final assembly, the two skirts for the face vises will have to be trimmed down to accommodate the legs. I’m not quite sure how I’ll do this yet. I’ll want the skirts to butt up tight against the leg and not leave a gap. I’ll probably remove the skirts, join the base to the bench top, and then figure out how to re-install the skirts.
Other than the leg/skirt screwup, making these went fairly well.
In the next post I’ll install all of the vises.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! May you all have a wonderful day.
– Jonathan White