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My tale picks up with the vintage vise I recently bought at an antique mall. My purchase of $27, as you’ll soon see, has been rewarded. I am happy to say that the evaporust application, light sanding, and wire brushing made it look like new. I treated the clean metal castings to Rustoleum primer and then a Rustoleum black semi gloss oil enamel coating. I’ll make a new handle out of some scrap walnut. The dog slot will be left empty for now since it made no sense to fabricate a steel one. Perhaps I’ll mill a chunk of wood to fill it for esthetics.

What I opted to do with the vise was to use it on my chairmaker’s bench. This bench is an evolving bench project. In my mind a workbench doesn’t have to be a thing of beauty, but just function well. Practicality and economy kinda dictate that route for me as a woodworker. I still plan to build a nice Roubo bench based on a Chris Schwarz design when time, money, and situation allow. But for now I will tweak the design of this chairmakers bench. The centerpiece of this bench has been the Veritas twin screw vise, but due to the smaller footprint of the bench top, the design didn’t include a tail vise. I admit that I favor having two vises on a bench for a host of reasons. One of which is that I often use my vise for holding spindles so that I can shape them with drawknife and spokeshave for Windsor chairs. So buying this antique vise, and reconditioning it, got me wondering how it might become part of this very stout but smaller bench. By beefing up the dimensions of the undercarriage it showed me that pine/fur stock offers plenty of mass for any hand tool work I’ll do. Bottom line the bench doesn’t move.

With no bench top overhang on the end, I cut a 10 inch by 3/8 inch deep mortise in face of the top stretcher (4 by 4 inch stock) and then mounted the rear jaw flush with the side of the bench. This also required me to cut another mortise about 10 inch by 1 1/8 inch deep on the underside of the stretcher. The only negative that I have with the installation is that the chops have to be fairly wide, 6 inches, to accommodate the installation of the vise. Alternatively, I could have made the chops even wider and passed the vise screw and guide rods through them. The tail vise is mounted at the base of the stretcher versus installing it directly underneath the 3 inch thick top. Judging by the trial fits the rear vise jaw will also include a 3/4 inch thick chop. When I designed the chop for the front vise jaw I realized that it could now include several dog holes in it to give me multi-point hold down capability on the bench from end to end.

My tale of adding a tail vise is to install a vise chop of red oak that is roughly 3 inches thick by 20 inches long. That length gives me 3-4 dog holes for clamping. I would have opted for a shorter length on the vise chop however the installation forced me to mortise the vise dead center on the top stretcher so that the bolts holding down the 3 inch thick bench top were left alone. By using 3 inch stock it eliminates any issues with the depth of the chops.

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Consequently, I rigged my tail vise to have a substantial length of about 20 inches versus the 14 1/2 inch length chosen by Chris Schwarz for a Roubo bench. Comments are welcome!

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