[Leg Vise Chop] Slice and Dice

Finally got a chance to sweat in the shop….I mean work in the shop today.  Wisconsin may not be as hot as Texas (ever) but we sure get some humid days and being inside the garage, even with a box fan going full blast is good recipe for weight loss!

Today’s first order of business was to start crafting a carving mallet so I could do the details on the leg chop.  I don’t have one and quite frankly, I just think they’re cool.  But…I’m going to take a non-traditional approach.  I have no lathe and a very limited budget, so I had to do some brainstorming.  Tapping the carving chisels with my big mallet is just not in the cards.

Click here to see the write up of the carving mallet project I’ve started.

Anyway, after I dried myself off from working on the new mallet, I dusted off the now glued up leg vise chop and honed some chisels.   I tell you what, the freshly honed chisels really made short work of the top of the vise, slicing through the poplar with ease.  Add a little persuasion from Kroktskaft and I was revealing some real pretty green grain in the upper layer of poplar and a glass like finish.   It’s like the wood is infused with emeralds or something.  Really cool color.


The light green grain is kind of hard to see in the photo, but what isn’t hard to see is the difference truly sharp chisels make.  The first iteration of my chop was “carved” with the same chisels in 3/4″ pine.  The chisels were used straight from the package and “sharpened” the best way I knew how at the time.  I was quite pleased with myself!


Ah, ignorance is bliss.

Since last year, however, I have figured out the scary sharp method and gotten a mirror polish on my edged tools.  The photo below shows the difference.  On the bench is the new chop, with sharply sliced bevels.  Below it is the current chop, with a rough-hewn look to it.  Granted, the chop has been in service for a year…but still.  Daaaaaaaamn, what a difference.


Whew….didn’t realize how rough the original chop looks until today!  I don’t want to meet this bad boy in a dark alley…unless I’ve got my scary sharp chisels, that is.

Just I got into a good rhythm, then heard the baby monitor start to squawk.  So, that’s it for today.  But tomorrow holds promise—and it’s supposed to be cooler.


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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