Wednesday, 5 March 2014
I recently acquired a secondhand demountable moxon vice with the intention of doing away with the back part and installing it permanently in place of my traditional front vice. It may not be as pretty as David Barron's beautiful benchcrafted version, but with a bit of common sense and elbow grease....
The first job was to treat the woodworm to long cool drink of Rentokil. In fairness I think they were probably long gone already, but with the dreaded beetle grubs it always pays to be safe. A quick soak in the bucket of Restore Rust Remover brought the metal parts up nicely.
Not so lucky with the wood though, a few swipes with a plane revealed that a little bit of rot had also begun to set in to the beech components, which caused me to have a bit of a re-think about how best to proceed.
By the end of the first cup of tea I had reasoned that installing it in place of the current front vice was folly, none of the holes lined up nicely and I didn't really want to block up any dog holes. By the end of the second cup it occurred to me that if I installed it on the other side of the bench instead, I could:
1, Bury the manky beech components inside the bench top.
2, Make a nice smart new jaw of whatever length I wanted.
2, Keep the front vice too.
3, Fill in that flippin' 'tool well' for good.
4, Gain an extra 3 inches of work surface.
Out with the oak! This piece of oak comes from a stack that my Grandad acquired from his neighbour who died before he could use it. Grandad never used it for anything and then died, Dad inherited it, never used it, and then he died too; leaving it to me. Dad's brother (who pointed this pattern out to me) made a nice garden bench out of the bits he got from Grandad and he's still very much alive and kicking... Hmmm, I wonder?
With the oak planed up and trimmed to length, I set about tidying up the tool well, (another shoulder plane job that isn't a tenon shoulder). You can angle it down so that the nose of the plane gives a reference for square against (in this case) the bottom of the well, and just trim away until the bump is removed.
The holes in the jaw were drilled on the drill press (with a bormax, naturally) and then clamped in place and used as guides to position the holes in the back of the tool well.
First trial fit with the original wooden components screwed in place to reinforce the back. I will probably need to thin them down a bit to make space for a reasonable thickness of top surface. I've got a lovely thin board of elm that would be perfect for that job if I can only remember where I've put it.
The ability of the Moxon vice to accept wide boards, grip like a Yorkshireman holding a fiver and only rack horizontally when you want it to, makes it a valuable addition to your clamping arsenal. With a nice leather lining and the bench filled in behind it I am sure it will do valiant service.
I now also now realise how much I like having a vice that finishes flush with the right hand end of the bench for sawing. Am I the only one who finds that the traditional front vice on the left arrangement works better in theory than practice?