Workbench Day 32: Mounting the Leg Vise (part 4)

At last, the day arrived when I could put it all together and complete the leg vise.  Or so I thought.  This post is actually a combination of a couple days work because I just couldn’t bring myself to post nothing but failure after failure until it was done.

With some helpful tips from Sylvain over at the Lumberjocks site, I was able to (almost) complete the task of getting that garter (that I thought was an unmitigated failure) in gear so-to-speak.  Thanks, man!

First, I filed off the bevel that I put on the garter itself.  Then I marked on the threaded rod where the garter would sit in normal operation.  Then I took everything apart and used the file to remove a thread so the garter won’t act like a nut.  It did not take long to file off a thread, but I made the mistake of following the thread, so the garter slot was slanted.  Then I went back and tried to straighten the slot by partially filing the threads in front of and after the slot.  That made a nice straight slot and left half-threads in front and behind.  No big deal I thought.

Then I realized when I tried to test fit everything that no matter how I tried, the garter kept getting pushed up by the half threads and was threading itself like a nut.  No good.  I monkeyed around for over an hour on this, taking a little metal off the garter here, some more off the threads there.  It kept getting tantalizingly close to working.  I actually got the garter mounted a couple times and did a full on test fit only to have ti work for 2 or 3 turns of the handle, then the garter got on the thread and locked everything up.

In frustration, I decided to cut one of the big washers I got to fit the threaded rod in half and cut it in half to see if a rounded shape (the garter I have, being scrap, is more of a V shape) would fit the garter slot better.  I had mixed results again.  So I tried a smaller washer, cut it in half and realized I think I had a winner.  But…how to mount it?  The washer is so small compared to the rod that it may have to epoxied in place or something.  May have to bust out the Dremel and try and get a pilot hole started for a screw or something…more to think on.

I had to take a break before I screwed something up so I got to work on the leg vise guide. While everything was apart, I finished the guide.  I took the oak piece I glued together back in August (scrap pieces of trim) and sanded it nice and smooth, rounded the edges, then used the combination square to cut 45* angles in the end of it.

 After consulting the Schwarz’s book on the placement of the peg holes, I got those drilled.

But how to attach it to the chop?  Chris Schwarz and lots of others suggest using side pegs.  That would require drilling through the chop.  In my case, I don’t have a bit long enough (I didn’t fully taper the chop like everyone else does…now I see why!  Lessons learned for next time!).   so, enter plan B.  I had a scrap piece of an oak dowel laying around.  That went into the bottom of the guide slot on the chop. then the guide was fit in.  Last, I split a chunk of oak from another scrap trim piece and shaped it to fit just so…it became a nice wedge in the chop to keep the guide rock solid.

I did a test fit of the wedge for strength before I drilled the peg holes in the guide.  I think it’s pretty darn strong!

As for the peg that will hold the guide tight against the leg in normal use, I decided to use a piece of a maple branch I had to trim a while ago.  Like the file handle I made from the birch branch, I love using wood I harvest on my own land.  Here’s the branch it came from:

Then I used the utility knife to trim off the bark (waaay thinner than the birch).  I scraped the peg with the edge of the blade like a spokeshave to smooth and round it (that was fun!) and then polished it off with some 220 grit sandpaper. As you can see in the picture, I left the little stubs of some bigger twigs towards the end to make a “T” that will keep the peg from slipping out and give me something to grip when inserting and removing.  It’s probably way too long at the moment, but that can easily be trimmed.

So then I got around to drilling holes in the guide to match the diameter of the peg I made. Well, that didn’t turn out so well.  I got within 5 holes of being finished when the guide broke apart.  So I had one slice of the guide that then had to be clamped in place while I finished the holes, then glued back together (I had no other suitable wood in the scrap bin that would work without another day or two of labor to get it in shape). 

As I’m doing with the handle, I want to see how long it’ll last mounted to the chop without glue.  If normal use loosens things up (right now this sucker is not going anywhere) then I’ll glue it as well.   I guess in a way I’m preparing for if/when the glued oak guide splits apart.  Since it already did while I was drilling holes, I thin it’s a fair bet it’ll happen in the future.   In that case, I’ll go get a solid oak plank and plane it to fit and be done with it.  But…as a nod to my cheaper side, I’m going to see how long I can last without having to buy more wood.



About Steven M. Vaught

A native son of Delaware, now living in Illinois, Steven is a writer, family historian, amateur astronomer, sometimes-gardener, woodworker, father to three wonderful children, husband to a wonderful wife, and caretaker of one cheeky vizsla.
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