ust as I began the installation of the second vise for my new workbench (an end vise), I saw a blog post by Richard Maguire saying that you don’t need a second vise. In fact the title of his post, “Why Your Workbench Needs One Vice (Or Less)” implies that you can get away with no vise at all. And I recently pointed to a video by Mike Siemsen where he shows several ways to use a workbench without a vise. But, If that isn’t enough, I have heard Fine Woodworking authors Mike Pekovich and Matt Kenney talk about how they dislike end vises. Specifically, they don’t like pinching stock (heard on Shop Talk Live). Pinching stock is when you place a board between a bench dog and an end vise and clamp it in place. All of these woodworkers do great work, all of them teach woodworking, so they are people whom I listen to and respect.
Now then, I know something about having a workbench with no vise at all. For many years, I have used such a workbench; one with without a front vise or an end vise. And, dang it, now I want two. Regardless of the merits of no vise, or two (or more), to each his own. Often woodworking isn’t about following someone else’s principles, the woodworker can do what is comfortable to him or her.
Most no vise woodworking is hand tool in nature and my workbench will very much serve both hand tool tasks as well as power tool. Like sanding. There is nothing better than pinching stock so you can run a palm sander over it (the same goes for routing too). I am going to enjoy having two vises on my workbench.
My End Vise
I chose a Veritas Inset Vise due to its ease of installation and Veritas’ reputation for quality tools. The install went well, but it was much more time-consuming than I thought it would be. Ash is a tough wood to cut through and with this inset vise, I found myself hogging out a lot of ash using a straight bit in my router and then fine tuning the edges with a chisel.
The only thing missing from the photo above is the template I made which I had to keep adjusting to ensure a good fit with the vise.
If I ever do anything like this again, I’ll try to drill out some of the waste area to keep from having to do all the routing.
With the end vise installed, the next logical step was to add the dog holes. Drilling through ash with a 3/4″ forstner bit was a little tough. I used a drilling guide to help keep the drill vertical…
The forstner bit was not long enough to drill all the way through the bench top. So I went to Home Depot and bought a 3/4″ spade bit. But this bit had a little screw head on it (see photo) which tended to screw the bit into the ash and then bog down even when using my more powerful corded hammer drill. So I pulled out a 3/8″ spade bit with a long shank to create a starter hole and then finished up with the 3/4″ spade bit. The 3/8″ bit removed stock which would have encountered the little screw head on the 3/4″ spade bit.
I then routed a chamfer around each dog hole opening…
Next, I’ll need to select what finish to add. I am strongly leaning towards fuming the quarter-sawn oak just because I have never done that before and I want the oak to be a darker color. I’ll leave the cedar legs and the ash top their natural color.
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