The Next Source of Vise Envy: Carver’s Vise by Benchcrafted
I’ve had Benchcrafted hardware on my mind lately. I’m at the point where I need the hardware to finish up my split-top Roubo bench – a project 3+ years in the making. I’m a huge fan of the work Benchcrafted produces. Their vise hardware is for the serious woodworker, and Jameel’s latest project, the carver’s vise, is a modern take on a classic that was popular in France pre-WWII.
Jameel has been sharing some details on the vise on his blog here, it’s origins (including some cool links to vintage videos of the vise in use in the 1930’s) and it progress along the path to commercial availability. One of the requirements to build one of these from solid wood stock (using the Benchcrafted hardware), is a good quality 12/4 stock material for the vise jaws, although the finish thickness is ~2 -1/2″.
Stock of this thickness in any species isn’t easy to find, but when Jameel heard about my secret stash here in Cincinnati (MidWest Woodworking) via Chris Schwarz’s blog post, he gave me a call. Frank David at Midwest Woodworking doesn’t have any 12/4 European Beech, or hard maple, but he does have something unique. “Heavy” 10/4 (2 -5/8″) ribbon stripe sapele. Once you get past the fact that there are 4 shipping containers of this stuff perfectly flat, 7-14″+ wide and 16′ lengths, it’s the density and stability of the wood that is really special. Frank will sell you wood, tell him Andy said you should call him: 513-631-6684. Talking to him is like having a conversation with Santa Claus (with Dr. Evil’s voice).
I’ve used this stuff on a few projects that included using the full thickness and re-sawing pieces for some chairs and can attest to both it’s workability and it’s surprising density. It’s very different than other sub-species in the mahogany family – predictable and easy to work with. A bunch of people saw me using this at the Gorilla Glue booth at last year’s Woodworking in America conference and inquired about it. It’s the real deal – like the Benchcrafted carver’s vise. Here’s a post on the still un-upholstered chairs.
I’m meeting Jameel this weekend in Chicago at Jeff Miller’s hosted Lie-Nielsen tool event. I’ll have a few things in tow including:
- Some sapele for a few carver’s vise builds in the future (keep an eye out on Jameel’s blog for updates).
- My L-N tool filled Walnut Traveling Anarchist Tool Chest inspired by The Anarchist’s Tool Chest (Lost Art Press).
- Some Gorilla Glue freebies (supplies limited) for those people who still need convincing that their glue is legit and tough.
Jeff Miller is sure to have some helpful demos and ideas to share. Jeff is also wrapping up his latest book, due out around this Fall (via Popular Woodworking), just in time for Woodworking in America. Come to the Lie-Nielsen Tool event this weekend at J. Miller Handcrafted Furniture and support all the great woodworking things going on that are fueling part of the American craftsman revival of the 21st Century.
See everyone this weekend!