The vises are all installed, but they are not fitting quite as well as they could. On some, one side closes very slightly before the other. On other vises, the bottom closes just a little before the top. These problems can easily be fixed, but it is a little time-consuming.
First a quick apology. My photos in this post are all over the place. I got working and zoned out a little. The end result is that I don’t have a series of photos of me fixing one vise chop from start to finish. I do have photos of every stage, just on different vises. So if the images seem to be jumping from face vise to tail vise and back again, its me, not you.
The first thing that I did for each vise was to repeatedly open and close it, watching carefully to see if it closed evenly. If I noticed one side (or the top or bottom) closing before the other, I marked those high spots with a pencil.
On the below image of one of the face vises, you can see that the foreground closes slightly more than the background. Granted, it’s only a hair off, but it’s worth fixing.
To fine tune the fit, I planed the high spots. The time-consuming part is not the planing, it is the continuous disassembly and reassembly of the vises to check the fit.
I planed down the high spots, being careful to plane evenly and avoid creating a bumpy or uneven surface.
Once I had planed the high areas, I took two full length passes of the chop to somewhat flatten the face.
One other important thing that I should point out here. On each vise chop, I deliberately took a few extra passes at the bottom of the chop (where the holes are drilled and below). This will cause the vise to close at the top about 1/64th of an inch before the bottom. This should help to reduce the tendency of these vises to open up at the top when tightened.
With this done, I reassembled the vise and re-checked the fit. In most cases, I had to repeat the process one more time for an optimal fit. This repeated assembly has some added challenges considering the way I build these vise chops. The holes are exactly the same size as the guide rods and main screw (20mm and 30mm respectively). This tight a fit makes for a much nicer vise once finished, but sometimes needs a little “persuasion” to go together or come apart. The template that I made while making the chops, did a fantastic job. The metal parts all line up perfectly.
So, here you can see both tail vises closing evenly:
Once all four vises were fitting well, all that remained was to flush up the tops. When I made the vise chops, I made sure that they were about ¼” taller than needed. After all, it is much easier to plane down the chops to fit than it is to try and “add wood” later.
I set the plane for a fairly thick shaving and got started.
It is also important to check that the top of the vise chop stays level with the bench. I used a square periodically as I worked to see how close I was.
Both tail vises and both face vises were made level with the benchtop. I still need to do the final flattening of the bench, but I did an initial flattening before attaching the breadboard ends, so it shouldn’t take much.
Slowly getting closer to being done.
Next I think I’ll flatten the top, and then it will be time to make some sliding dead-men.
– Jonathan White