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Thread: Vises - Too Many?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Grand Rapids, MI
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    Vises - Too Many?

    I am currently trying to set up my shop, and a good workbench is an urgent need. I have been playing with a few designs, but I am wondering if having three vises is overkill. I would love to have a leg vise, end vise, and tail vise. I plan on making both contemporary furniture of my own design and a lot of period furniture. I also love hand work, hand tools, and wanna get more into carving (for period furniture). Recommendations? Thanks!

    Hutch

    P.S. The bench can only be about 5.5 feet long. The width is more flexible.

  2. #2
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    I have a front vise and an end vise in a pretty standard config. If I was going to branch into carving i might like a vise just for that purpose. No real help; just my feelings.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    I must agree with Glenn, bear in mind that working height is quite different for flatwork than for carving, having this in mind I would go for a detachable carving vise ( you only need a hole on your bench to fix it), They have quite a wide jaw opening and you can rotate them.

    Instead of going for three fixed ones I would have two, a tail vise and a front vise, if you want more flexibility this front vise could be an Emmert copy or the Veritas one but it is expensive.
    Best regards,
    Toni

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _________________
    web site:http://www.toniciuraneta.com
    I also dream of a shop with north light where my hands can be busy, my soul rest and my mind wander...

  4. #4
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    Matt, if I may suggest you buy the book "Workbenches: From Design And Theory To Construction And Use by Christopher Schwarz"

    Well worth the $20, really, this is THE book you need when thinking about a workbench.

    Honestly, it will be the best $20 you spend on a book about woodworking.

    Cheers!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Grand Rapids, MI
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    Hmm...

    Well, the carving really doesn't affect the bench vises. But there is this one adjustable height bench that would be sweet to have for that. You could crank a handle and four screws at the four bench legs raised the table.

    I have been looking at that workbench book. I may end up getting it cuz it does seem to be the best book that informs about the functions of different setups.

    Hutch

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    East Freeetown, Massachusetts
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    Vices - Ohh, I know I have too many vices.

    Uhhh - wait a minute - you were talking about the kind of vice that clamps and holds things?

    Nah - that's like clamps.

    Actually, I have a panavise and a small mechanics vice mounted on a mount so I can clamp them in my woodworking vices whan I need them.

    I have two woodworking vices - I could use more.

    I will also second the Chris Schwartz book

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Manistique, Michigan
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    297
    I am building a bench, starting with two vices, but I have been thinking of adding another vise. I have an end vise and shoulder vise - hardware has been purchased, but not installed because I was interupted by a paying job for a friend. Once I have some experience with these two vises, there may be a need for a third.

    I agree with the others that height is important. My bench is 36" high for making cabinets (I am 5'6" tall or short, depending on your point of view). It really works well. The height was determined from butchering venison - at the kitchen table, it kills my lower back because of the slight bend. At the kitchen cabinets, I can do this work all day and not be bothered.

    I will probably build a smaller bench if I need a bench shorter. If my existing bench needs to be higher, I can raise the top with spacer blocks. I'll have to make the spacer blocks, but i will cross that bridge when I come to it.
    Rich (the Yooper)

    "To the world, you may be one person, but to one person, you may be the world."

    "Common sense is not so common."

  8. #8
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    Feb 2008
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    Ah, for the love of handwork....

    Well, if it's like clamps, then I am fine.

    Another thing, I have decided that I don't want to have an MDF top, but I may try the 2x stock from the big box stores. I know it's not ideal, but I am not able to afford the good wood, and the hardware for the vises will set me back a good chunk. I know Chris Schwartz made one like this, and it was effective yet inexpensive.

    Have any of you gone this route, and have you had any problems with this wood? (I plan on making the top 2" thick with 4x4 edges)

    Hutch

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    St. Louis, MO
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    My first bench (too big to get out of the basement door when i moved out of my first house) was 2x pine laminated together. It worked great. I would have built another similar to it had i not stumbled on a 2-1/4" thick solid maple top bench for $10 before i had the chance to make one. Darn that luck.
    Other than the height, i'd be warry of making a woodworking bench too deep. Mine's 40" deep and 24" or 30" would have been much better. Reaching over the top to plane, chisel, sand, or cut puts your body into strange contortions. I actually never need the last foot of depth, and it just tends to collect stuff. A shallower bench accessible on both sides would be great.
    I've got a front vise and some Veritas "wonder dogs" (from www.leevalley.com). Whenever i get around to modifying my bench to make it narrower, i'll probably go with a leg vise on the front and move the quick release woodworking vise to the end. That should do me just fine, though a wide twin screw vise on the end would be the cat's pajamas. Maybe i'll drop a few hints to Santa, but i'd have a hard time spending the money for that.

    I like the Christopher Schwarz book also. What a great resource.

    Have fun with it.

    Paul Hubbman

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