I have never wanted to
be a metalsmith. I always wanted to be a woodworker.
But, the simple truth is
that if one wants to work wood, one will be required to do a
little bit of work on metal; Saws, chisels, plane blades,
and other tools all require sharpening. Jigs must be built.
And woodworking aside, all of us will have some "chores" to
do from time to time.
A Necessary Evil
There's a certain amount of
utility in having a standard bench vise. They are quite
handy at the right time. Most of the time though, they're in
For years I had one on one of
my benches. When I needed it, it was always there ready to
go. However, when I didn't need it, it was always there
right in the way.
Then, I decided to build myself a good and proper
I didn't want to permanently
mount my bench vise to the bench and lose all of the real
estate it would require. Also, the idea of metal shards
becoming embedded in my bench was completely insane to me.
Boards being worked would be scratched, and flattening the
bench would be a nightmare.
The fix for this was rather
simple. Again, this is just a single scrap piece, albeit a
rather beefy one. It's a piece of 8/4 hard maple about three
feet long, and wide enough to bolt the base of the vise to.
Get It Done
This appliance couldn't be more
simple to build or use. Dress the board for flat and square
as you see fit. Mark and pre-drill some holes in the
appropriate spot for the lag bolts needed to mount the vise,
and bolt it on. All done!
Put it to work
Have your holdfast and/or
clamps ready. A bench vise can be pretty heavy, so it's a
pretty good bet that it won't hang over the edge of the
bench and stay put. Lay the back end on the bench (insuring
you hold the business end), set a holdfast, and drive it
down. Then add a clamp a little forward of the holdfast and
cinch that down. It's ready to go.
It will be rock solid AND sit
past the bench! Mount the workpiece in it, and do what you
have to do.
Here's the best part though...
When you are done, remove the clamp, pop the holdfast, and
put the vise in the corner. No metal shards in your bench.
No vise taking up valuable space on your bench or
permanently in the way.
It will be right there in the
corner, ready to go when you need it.