So at the end of my last installment, I had milled and glued up the blanks that will be my vise chops. I had also made full size templates out of plywood. The following morning, I took everything out of the clamps and started to cut the chops to size. I cleaned up one edge on the jointer, to make sure that the douglas fir and the mahogany face were flush and square. I then used the table saw to cut the other edge of the chops to width. I set the blade to fence distance directly off the template.
Before going further, I took a very light cut on the jointer just to make sure that both edges are square to the mahogany face.
I went through this process for all four vise chops. They are all now at final size, but I still need to make the decorative cuts and make these a little more attractive. I started by tracing the template onto each chop.
I used a square to add some reference lines that will assist me when I line up the shoulder cuts at the table saw.
For the end vise chops, I was able to cut the overhang shoulder on the crosscut sled.
With the tablesaw work done, I moved over to the bandsaw.
I continued cutting out the ogees. The ¾” blade in my bandsaw was probably too wide for what I was doing, but with plenty of relief cuts it came out okay.
This process created a lot of scrap.
We had a few nights where the overnight lows got down into the 20s, which is unusual for us in November. The woodstove in my workshop has proven to be a good idea.
With a significantly warmer shop, I proceeded to smooth and refine the ogee curves.
This was a big experiment to see what would work. I used a shinto rasp to work on the convex curve but had to use a half-round float and a half-round file to work on the concave part.
The shinto rasp is fun to use. I bought it not long ago from Lee Valley. Wow, does it cut fast, I had to switch it over to its finer side right from the get go.
You can see below how I was getting some split out on the back of the doug fir. It’s annoying, but it will likely be unseen once the chop is installed.
As I progressed, I added a few tools to the arsenal. I used some 120 and 220 grit PSA sandpaper on blocks of jointed wood to finish up the convex curves. I also had a go with the card scraper and it worked fairly well. Quite slow, but left a nice surface. Last, I went over it with some 220 grit paper by hand and I broke all the sharp edges and pointy bits.
I also used my veritas shoulder plane to clean up the transition shoulder and remove some errant bandsaw blade marks.
This took a long time but eventually I had both sides of all four chops cleaned up.
I dusted everything down and vacuumed. I cleaned all of the shaping tools and put everything away. Aren’t I efficient? Damn! No, I’m not. I forgot to shape the curves on the ends of the chops. I got everything back out.
My original plan was to cut a curve on the last three inches of each side of the face vise chops. Since the ogees on the bottom of the face vise chops are roman ogees (curves based upon arcs not ellipses) I was going to keep that theme and add an arced curve on the ends.
The tail vise chops had to be smaller and only have a 1 ½” side overhang. The ogees on these chops are more like Greek ogees (based upon ellipses not arcs). The plan was for matching ellipse based ogees on the ends.
I found a scrap off-cut that had so far managed to avoid the wood stove, and laid out some sample profiles, one for each type of chop. I used a compass for the arc and a french curve for the ellipse.
I cut in the shoulders on my crosscut sled before going to the bandsaw.
I didn’t spend any time cleaning up or refining the samples. This was good enough to see what I wanted to. I’m sure glad I took this extra step because it made me realize that my original plan sucked. I really didn’t like the wider arced curve. The smaller one however, looked great!
To avoid having to re-create this profile on each vise chop with the curve, I thought It would be quicker (and more standardized) to make a template out of hardboard.
I sized the template so that it would fit perfectly onto the 3″ wing on each side of the vise chop. I traced both sides of both face vise chops.
The template was too big for the tail vise chops, so I cut off 1 ½”.
This is the rough cut from the bandsaw.
I really like this profile.
So, after a few more hours of rasping, filing, scraping, and sanding, I was done. I didn’t take pictures of this as it was basically just that same a I showed above (except no concave parts).
The next thing that I’ll have to do is make a drilling template and drill all the holes in the vise chops. After all this work it would suck to mess one up now. Perhaps I should have drilled the holes earlier. Then I’ll have to make the sapele skirts that will cover the vise hardware.
More soon… or as time allows. I’m not writing these quick enough for Ralph, and the poor guy needs his reading material!
– Jonathan White
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Thank you for the time and effort it took to post this bench build in such excellent detail! I am finishing my bench and your vise details convinced me not to purchase the more expensive vises. I purchased my vises (same model, different vendor as yours) from Amazon and got free shipping, which was on my doorstep in two days.
Ireally like the finish work and vise details on your bench and intend to copy that for mine. My bench is also bolted. I would have saved myself a lot of work and mistakes if I had found your blog before I started mine.
Great work, beautiful bench!
Thanks for your kind words. I’m glad my posts have been helpful. Good luck with your bench build.
All the best,
May I ask, what is the width of the front and end vise chops? I am using the same vise hardware.
The face vise chops measure 22″ wide by 3¼” thick. The tail vise chops measure 15″ wide by 3¼” thick.
Hope this helps. All the best,