The last step in my work bench build has finally arrived. It has been quite a journey, and I can certainly say that I never thought it would take me this long. But I have greatly enjoyed the process and have learned much along the way.
The last remaining part of the project is to line the vise chops with leather. I mentioned in an earlier post, How to Make Round Benchdogs – A Pictorial, that I had purchased a half hide of leather from Brettun’s Village. My original plan was to line both the vise chop and the inner jaw (edge of the bench). After some consideration, I revised that plan to only line the vise chop. This will keep the edge of the bench in a single plane a not have a piece of leather glued to it.
To get started, I removed the chops from all four vises and placed them on the leather. I spent a little time trying to find an arrangement that would waste the least amount of leather.
Once I had the layout that I wanted, I went in search of my white china marker. No luck, it must have grown legs and walked out of the shop. Or more likely, the kids took it. So, I went a raided the kids crayons. No white, but I did find a yellow. It’s not ideal, but it does show up on the dark brown leather… just.
I cut out the leather with scissors and placed each piece over the vise chops to confirm they were the right size.
The next step was to glue the leather to the vise chop. I have read a few online opinions about what glue to use for this task and either hide glue or common PVA seems to be the most frequently mentioned. I had planned to use one of these myself, but my recent success using contact adhesive while making my benchdogs had me rethinking this plan. I decided to try attaching leather to just one of the vise chops to see how well it worked. I applied the glue to both surfaces and waited for it to start drying.
Once the glue had just turned dry to a light touch, I attached the leather and went over it with a pressure roller to make sure I got a good bond. I then trimmed the leather flush with the wooden chop and from the holes.
I was very happy with the bond and repeated the process for the other three vise chops.
The holdfasts also got some contact adhesive and leather.
After gluing the leather to all four chops, I reassembled the vise hardware. Up until this point, I have never installed the screws that hold the vise face plate tight against the chop. This is mainly due to the way I drilled the holes for the main screw and guide rods. There is no slop in these holes and they fit the metal parts with very tight tolerances. When you unscrew the vise, the chop stays against the face plate and doesn’t sag or move. This is caused by the thickness of the chop and these tight tolerances. I have had to assemble, disassemble, and reassemble the vises several times in the building of this bench, and saw no need to install the face plate screws until the very end.
Now that I see no further need to disassemble the vises, it is time for the screws to be installed.
I mounted a center finding bit in my drill and drilled pilot holes in the three holes in the face plate.
I bought some brass screws (to match the gold paint on vise hardware) but these can be softer than you might be expecting depending upon the alloy blend used in the particular batch of screws you bought. When using brass screws, it is advisable to first install a steel screw that is the same size, length, and pitch. This will cut threads into the wood that the brass screw will then follow.
My son came out to the shop and installed the last screw.
So…. That’s it… It’s done. One year and one month from start to finish.
It feels a little anti-climatic actually. Not that I was expecting the heavens to open or a fireworks show to ensue, but I sat back and thought, “Wow, it’s done!”
I took a load of pictures of the finished bench and I’ll try to publish that post in the next day or two.
– Jonathan White