Okay, so if you follow this blog, you’ll know that last year I built a leg vice and attached it to the workbench I built over the summer. The chop on this vice was simply two pieces of 3/4″ pine, about 6″ wide, glued together and shaped (with some crude tools I had at the time and zero knowledge of what I was doing). Then I carved my initials and the year of it’s construction (2012) into it and made a nice little handle out of poplar.
Well, it works. That’s about all I can say for it. I’ve had to repair it twice (fixing the garter and then redoing the oaken support bar at the bottom that kept sliding through the chop when sufficient force was applied). I’ve noticed it bowing more and more lately. I think the abuse I’ve heaped on it in the past year is taking it’s toll. I can’t complain though, the thing cost me about $6 in wood and glue.
But, it’s always had a wobble and lately it’s gotten worse—the chop will sway front to back now by 3/4″. I can still work with it, but it’s irritating, because I know I can do better now that I have a year of woodworking under my belt. I see the bench and look at the crude mortises and rough-cut bridle joins and think, man, if I did this now, it’d look a LOT nicer. Maybe I’m just talking my self into building a better bench, maybe I’m just realizing the humbleness of my first attempt.
At any rate, I can fix the chop, cheaply and with little risk of screwing it up this time. I think. So, with that in mind, an idea formed in my head to use some scrap poplar and a chunk of 2×6 I had laying around and make a new chop.
I want to spruce it up a little this time, so I’m going to take the 2×6 and sandwich it between two layers of 3/4″ poplar and carve the upper layer into a Game of Thrones inspired Targaryen dragon motif:
The last carving I did was for my mom’s medal chest was basswood:
And it was so much fun, I just want to do it some more. I figured, why not dress up the bench a little? It’s very utilitarian right now. I want to change that. If I’m going to be looking at something for hours on end, I at least want it to be pretty.
We’ll see how the poplar carves (I’ve heard it’s similar to basswood). For now, I have to have laminate the chop. Here it is during glue up:
Yes, that’s a giant roll of shrink wrap on the bench. The movers left me 2 of these bad boys when they moved us in last summer and it is great for putting under a glue up. I’m going to mount it under the bench on the left so I can just unroll it and cover the bench whenever I need it. But that’s another post.
About 5 hours later, I removed the clamps and compared the two chops. Oh yeah, version two is beefier, that’s for sure. It’s at least twice as thick and three times as heavy. I’d say V2 is pushing 10 pounds where V1 is maybe 5.