Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Roubo: Installing The Leg Vise

Greta's all finished, but there are a couple things I didn't write about in my haste to complete the bench build.

Here is the portion of the construction process that most concerned me (never having installed a leg vise before) and that turned out to be the easiest part of all.

If you've never installed a leg vise, you're in for a pleasant surprise. It's a cake walk.

I bought the hub, handle, screw, nut, and garter from Lake Erie Toolworks. The fit and finish is superb. It's a lovely mechanism and I highly recommend the company.*

Lake Erie has instructions on its site for installing the leg vise and I also referred to Chris Schwarz' second book on workbenches.

Basically, you cut two matching holes—one in the leg and one in the vise chop—for the screw to slide through. The hub comes with a turned recess around which the garter fits like a collar. When you wrap the garter around the recess, then screw it to the vise jaw, it ensures that the screw and jaw move in and out as one unit.

To determine the location of the nut on the back of the leg, just slide the screw through the hole in the leg, then thread the nut onto the screw. Trace the location onto the back of the leg, then cut a mortise however deep you like (mine is an inch deep) in which to secure the nut. I glued the nut in place and trimmed it flush with the sides of the leg.

After that, I cut the mortise for the parallel guide. I did all this before gluing up the end assemblies. It's much easier to handle this operation when the bench is still unassembled.

On another note, I can't tell you how invaluable my little saw bench was in building Greta. It's much easier on your legs and back when you can sit on the workpiece while chopping mortises.  In the photo, I'm not overcome with exhaustion (although this bench build would've liked to kill me), I'm scratching my face.  Or crying.

*I do not work for Lake Erie Toolworks and in no way benefit from mentioning them in this post.


Dave said...

Glad to hear it didn't do you in!

rootertooter1 said...


Nik Brown said...

Sight you hand rasp hole looks better than most drilled holes. Your level of perfection never ceases to amaze me. Sigh... ;-)

Turling said...

If I may ask, how long did it take you to prep the holes? I must say, they look outstanding. My only concern with hand tools is that they take a long time. At least, that's my perception. I've been proven wrong with dovetails (unless you have thousands) in that with practice hand cut dovetails are faster. So, I'm wondering how long that took as opposed to say a massive forstner bit.

Vic Hubbard said...

I LOVE using rasps and files. Very clean cuts. Great work on Greta!

Kari Hultman said...

Dave, this was the most intense build I've ever had because of the deadline. I needed (and got) a vacation after building Greta!

Thanks, rootertooter1. :o)

Nik, this bench is far from perfect, but I'm happy with it. And really, really glad it's done.

Turling, I didn't keep time on anything and I suspect I'm a bit (or a lot) slower than many woodworkers. The hole is 2.625" in diameter and I didn't want to spend money on a drill bit that would be used only once. They're pretty expensive. So it was worth it to me to cut it by hand. Once you get to this point in the build, though, you've gotten faster at chopping mortises and figuring out if it's plumb or not.

Vic, rasps and files are awesome. Sometimes they're the only thing that will work for a particular operation.

Bob said...

What a moment to snap a photo.

Hey, maybe a "caption this photo contest"?

Here's my entry:

"I just CAN'T go on!"
(which would then be followed by quiet sobbing)

Kari Hultman said...

Bob, your caption will most certainly be the winning entry. ; ) Nancy snapped that when I was hard at work. I think she captured the moment pretty darn well.

Anonymous said...

That's so awesome...I saw the cluster of holes and had a moment of "what the..." before I realized what you were doing. Brilliant idea.

And that last picture is priceless. That's the kind of picture that mirrors your mood back to you as you interpret it.

"Safety week tip: hand tool sawdust in the eye hurts just the same as power tool sawdust"


Stephen Shepherd said...

On all of the old benches I have seen the nut is free and rides on the underside of the bench.

Kari Hultman said...

Ian, you're bench is coming along great, by the way! The end cap is especially nice.

Stephen, if the nut isn't attached to anything, how does the screw on old benches go through it? Do you have a photo or something? I can't picture what you're saying.

Kari Hultman said...

Stephen, is the front leg threaded on old benches so there's no need for a nut? I'm trying to find a picture online...

Stephen Shepherd said...

The nut floats on the threads and being rectangular it rides on the underside of the bench. This allows the chop to slide all the way in out of the way, then back to open without turning the handle.

Kari Hultman said...

Ah, I see what you mean by the sketches you posted on your blog, Stephen. My leg vise had a tendency to bind because of the parallel guide but it worked fine once I applied gobs of wax. I haven't had any trouble with the screw/nut probably because it's so well made.

You had wondered about the placement of the nut behind the leg. One benefit is that you can clamp a very wide or tall board in the vise before you hit the vise screw. That's something that was sorely lacking from my old bench which provides only about 1.25" clearance.

Robert Sanford said...

Kari what I enjoy the most about your work is your attention to detail. I guess you could call it " a woman's touch". Although I worked for close to 30 years on machine tools with accuracies in microns I have yet to be able to transfer that ability to my woodworking. I really appreciate all that you have shown us in building this workbench. Thank you for sharing it with all of us.

Joshua said...

I just installed a Lake Erie screw on my in progress bench build. I love it, it's great.

I bored my hole with a holesaw in my Yankee brace, taking breaks to knock out the waste with a mortise chisel as the holesaw bottomed out, and approaching from both sides.

I wish my bench looked as nice as yours, Kari! I tell myself it'll work just a well, but it doesn't seem like much of a consolation!

Jeff Kirby said...

Beautiful work as always, Kari. I have a tangential question, though - are you happy with the saw bench design, or are there things you would change? Excuse the OT post, but I'm right in the middle of trying to choose a design for my saw bench.

And thanks for the always inspiring blog posts. I love seeing the bold *Village Carpenter* in my rss feed!


Kari Hultman said...

Joshua, I bet that took a lot of muscle to bore that hole by hand! You must be pretty close to completion—and getting pretty excited—if you've just installed your leg vise.

Jeff, I love the bench design and wouldn't change a thing. You might want a longer and/or wider bench based on the types of projects you build, though. The split top is really working out well, and being able to remove the back half means that I can clamp from both sides of the half top if necessary.

Kari Hultman said...

Thank you, Robert. :o)