I didn’t have much spare time today but what I did have I used to take care of the next couple steps in the leg vise drama.
First I removed the threaded rod and hacked off about 6-8″ worth from the end. The rod was just about 2″ too long to allow the chop to fully close.
Then I figured out how to mount a handle. It occurred to me while I was trying to remove the rod from the bench from the test fit. If I could carve a hole in the leg to fit the coupler in as a support for the rod…why couldn’t I carve holes in some wood to fit around the nuts that will go on the end of the rod—to create a handle?
It’s kind of hard to describe, but what I came up with is something like this: after the chop is pushed onto the rod, I’ll add a washer. Then there will be a piece fo wood with a nut embedded in it (not too much thicker than the nut itself). Then another nut will be embedded in a second piece of wood with a long handle attached. This second piece will be screwed down onto piece #1 locking them in place. Then a third piece of wood with a nut embedded will be screwed on last, locking all 3 together.
I figure if I shape the pieces of wood, I could make what seems like a decent looking handle. Then just before tightening all of them down, I could glue them all together using the wood surfaces to make a nice solid handle. I also immediately thought is something goes wrong or a handle breaks…well, I just have to remove the wood—hack and slash—and the nuts should pop out (I’m not gluing them). then just make new housing for the nuts. Worst case scenario, I replace all the nuts and threaded rod and start over—that total cost would be about $5.
But what wood to use? Just so happens I had a scrap length of 2″x 3/4″ poplar laying about so I used that. I decided to make the wood housings 2.5″ squares. Then it was relatively easy to place the nut in the center using the combo square and drill a 5/8″ hole in the wood. After tracing the outline of the nut around the hole, I just did what I did for the leg and used the chisel to carve out a hexagon shape to fit the nut securely.
This time it was much easier. I mounted the poplar on a cutting block of scrap wood that had been glued together last year for an air rifle stock I had started to carve then realized that white-wood wouldn’t be the best choice (it was a terrible glue-up too). I’ve been holding onto this sizable chunk of glued-up mess and now I have a use for it…sacrificial block to protect the bench!Above you can see all the holes had been drilled in the 5′ board. I carved out the first piece pretty quickly. After a little persuasion by the rubber mallet, I had this:
Awesome. That piece then got cut off from the rest (I even laid out the kerf line for my cheapie Stanley miter box saw (the yellow plastic one). I also discovered the joys of waxing your saw. It was binding something fierce in the poplar on this first cut and I could not figure out why. Finally I decided to try and wax it (never done that before!) using some paraffin (Gulf) wax blocks I got a while ago for…I don’t know why…
Anyway, the saw powered through the rest of the cuts like a hot knife through butter. I’m a believer now! I’m going to dedicate some time soon to waxing all my saws. Anyway, in pretty short order, I had all the nuts housed in the wood and all the wood pieces cut free.You can see the shape I’m planning on doing here as well. I used the combo square’s 45* angle thing to make consistent angle marks on all the pieces, then laid out lines to trim down the longer middle piece which will be the actual handle.
Next, it was time for a test fit! I threaded the rod a little into the leg again just to get it supported, then started threading on my new wood encased nuts. Here is the result—exactly like I thought, it worked great!The rest is just a matter of making it look pretty. So I took everything apart and started to cut off those angles with the miter saw again. Once I figured out how that saw likes to be held, it literally chewed through that poplar in about 10 seconds per cut. Waaay faster than I’ve ever been able to get with that saw before. Very happy.
With all the pieces trimmed, I then took out my utility knife (I really need to get a dedicated carving knife…the thin blade on that utility knife just makes me nervous it’s going to snap whenever it takes too big a bite and twangs) and started to round the edges and take the hardness off the handle. I was running out of time so I didn’t get as far as smoothing the two smaller pieces but I think after a quick scrub with some 100 and 220 grit sandpaper, the handle is feeling pretty comfortable.
Above is a shot of all the parts of the leg vise. The handle, the two locking nuts, the threaded rod and washer, the garter (that funky “V” shaped metal thing I found) and at the very bottom, the side of the chop.
I’m not sure I’m done with the handle. I haven’t really settled on a final shape. While I love the dowel-looking handles on traditional vises, that’s beyond my skills (patience) at the moment. This thing has been sitting in pieces for so long, I am just ready to be done with it so I can move on to other stuff that is just piling up. We’ll see. It feels pretty darn good right now in my hand and I gave it a couple practice twirls to simulate trying to loosen or tighten it quick and it really moves. I think I’m going to smooth out the two locking nuts first and do another test fit to see if I want to shape the handle more or just call it. It kind of looks a little rustic right now…like the rest of the bench (yeah…I still have to trim the excess of the top!).
And another thought occurred to me while I was carving this thing. If I tighten the nuts/wood pieces sufficiently, I may not need to glue anything. That would make removal/repair a LOT easier. We’ll see how it goes unglued and just friction tightened first. If things keep coming loose (it’s not that big a deal to just twist the wood in opposite directions to lock/unlock) then I’ll just glue the wood together.
This leg vise feels like it’s just creeping along…oh yeah. It is!