$24 Moxon Style Vice

With 9 handcut dovetailed drawers on the cards, I thought I should invest in a moxon style vice to aid my dovetailing.

After googling around for some idea’s I remembered some cheap “Press Clamps” I had seen at McJings tools and thought they might work well in a vice:

www.mcjing.com.au Press Clamps @ $12 each

Press Clamps
I order a pair online with some other goodies, and they turned up in 2 days.

The Press Clamps look pretty good for $12!
Excellent fit and finish.

I drew up a quick sketch, using sketchup based on some scrap f17 hardwood I had lying around

I drilled 28mm holes, which provided a nice press fit for the vice parts. You will need to file/rasp out a little notch where the locking screw sits on the tail portion. Notice how much play there is in the vice….

With the parts pressed in place, I marked the rear plate with a knife and cut a shallow mortice for the plate to fit in flush.

This is then held in place by a second slightly wider piece of f17 that is also used for clamping the press to the benchtop.

Finished Vice
Heres a picture showing the clamping beam in place covering the press plates. The entire vice is very easy to take apart if needed.

Vice in Action
The complete press works really well. the clamping power is way more than you’ll ever need for dovetailing.

When I tried to move a clamped board I moved the whole bench, which probably weighs in at 200kgs!

Tapered Clamping
There is a little play in the jaws, which I think might actually be a good thing. If it becomes an issue i’ll either add a bushing to the rear hole or re-drill the back peice with a 28mm hole in the rear and say a 20mm hole in the front.

Sample Mirror

There is about a 45mm range available for clamping tapered objects.

Sample Mirror
In use you’ll only need to open one end to get a board in/out when the jaws are correctly set.

Finish Vice

Overall I am very happy with the way it turned out, I am sure I’ll be using more of these presses for other jigs in the future.

Even if you had to buy the hardwood and not raid your scrap pile, the whole vice would only cost $50-60 to make.

Router Table

I managed to obtain a nice benchtop offcut through work, so I decided to build a new router table.

The benchtop is from a server room so its a heavy duty 35mm thick benchtop and weighs a ton.

Front Back

My original router table was never fully completed. It was based a router table made on an episode of New Yankee Workshop.

The new table uses the router, handles, router insert and drawerslides from the original table.

New Yankee Workshop Router Table

After using the original table for a few years, I tweaked the dimensions and made a few changes to suit my style of woodworking better. The main differences between the two are:

Larger table
Wider bit drawers
No mitre track
Increased duct sizes for the dust collection
Router plate setback further to provide more support for work pieces.

The increased port sizes on the dust collection made a huge difference, so much so I had to increase the vents on the main door to cope with the increased air flow.

The router table is also now mobile with a set of levelling casters from Woodcraft. They are fairly expensive, and I havent been able to find them locally. But the locking action is much better than regular castors and with the added bonus of being able to level the table and account for uneven workshop floors.

I’ll grab some more in the future and add them to my workbench.

Wood River Leveling Casters

Lastly I upgraded from a home made fence to a Kreg router table fence, still not 100% sure whether I like the lower profile. But unit is very rigid and locks well in position.

Overall I am very happy with this cabinet, only time will tell if I will need to refine it further.

Sometimes its better to do things the hardway.

Scrub Plane

When I first started working with wood, the weekend was a mad rush to get things done, my goal was to just get the job done. Come Monday morning as long as I had some pictures to show my mates or post on a forum I was happy.

Inevitably when I sat back in the following weeks all I saw was the little mistakes I made on the way, an out of square piece here, a chip there. Output and speed were my primary goals.

Now my goal is to be a better woodworker, to develop and improve my skills. This got me thinking, other than taking a year off and going back to school or doing an apprenticeship how can I do it? It just didn’t make sense to me to be honing my skills on a precious piece of a project and my time was to precious to spend it practicing. Let face it, no one wants to spend hours sawing to a line or cutting dovetails only to see it end up in the bin.

I think I have an answer, do some of the easy things the hard way, sounds weird huh? Let me explain.

During a build most of your work cannot be seen, the insides of a cabinet, the runners of a drawer. Most of the time we just rush off to a machine, fire it up and make the cut. While this may speed things up it contributes nothing to you as a woodworker and that should be one of the main goals on every piece you touch. Now if you grab the same piece and rip it to length with a hand saw, or square it up with the hand plane it may take you a little longer and you might make a mistake but who cares, its an unseen component remember.

What you will soon notice though is that rip saw which used to bounce all around will start better, your cuts will get straighter, that hand plane will start to sing. Your hand tools will become an extension of your body.

You are essentially practicing without practicing. In the future when it comes to making that perfect cut, or planing a key component you will realise you’ve already done the hard yards you have done it x100 before. Muscle memory will kick in and you’ll perform the task like a master.

Now I am not saying do everything the hard way, but choose some unimportant components from every project and make it the hard way. I guarantee you will grow and improve as woodworker with every project you do.

If you have any suggestions or tricks please post them up 🙂

** Scrub Plane picture courtesy of Lie Nielsen http://www.lie-nielsen.com/