Monday, February 11, 2013

Workbech Repair Part 1 - An Old Dog Gets New Tricks

So, here goes the first entry... Hopefully, some will find these interesting.  I am about to start a new commission, the first since relocating to Maryland a few months ago.  Most of the time has been spent getting the shop in order, tuning up machines, making some new jigs and hand tools.  While planing on the bench last week, I notice the top of my tail vice starting to come loose and rise when clamping.  Below you can see the cracks in the upper left and several pins that had been added over the years.

I suppose after 100+ years of service the bench deserved some attention, not only the tail vise top but, the bolts holding the vise screw guide/bench cap were stripped out, the bench top itself on this end was splitting apart and was uneven and the tails of the bench had cracked were the lags were placed.

Clearly the job was expanding, however it all needed to be addressed.  I was well aware of the task for quite some time, but had been putting it off.  Not because I could make due, but because this bench was  once used by my Great Grandfather in his New Jersey mill and then handed down to me by my Grandfather who had put many years on it. There was some trepidation in knowing that I would have to alter this piece of family history, in doing so I knew it would continue on its journey which finally motivated me.

First task was to repair the end splits, the one piece to the back I was able to pry off cleanly and reattach. The front piece I would have to pry open and blow glue into it with compressed air.  Both clamped up tight and I chiseled square the missing chunk in the front and fitted a new piece of maple.  The next task was spreading the gaps and removing all of the sawdust, small nails and debris.  Then on to lining up the surface, clamping it tight and drilling a hole through the bench for a new bolt to keep this end tight.  There was one on the far end and thought it odd one was not added here originally.

Here the vise top is removed, it revealed an addition or repair made by my Grandfather, a piece of 2x4 that housed the bench dog holes.  Either way, I would replace it with a solid piece of hardwood.  You can also see the wood screw that drives the tail vise, the front vise is the same.

Below are pictures of the stock used to make the new dog hole support next to the old 2x4, and the new piece installed in the vise.


The picture above is after I reinstalled the vise and made bench repairs.  If you look closely you can see the silver head of the new threw bolt in the center of the image.  Also, you see a new piece of 1" thick maple between the bench tails and the screw guide.  This extends the width of the bench and the height of the screw guide. Instead of trying to re-lag the massive screw guide and risk splitting out more of the top, I put bolts threw the new piece of maple to hold the screw guide.  The new maple piece is then secured with heavy screws to the bench end.  

Thanks it for now!  In Part 2, we'll complete the new tail vise top and do final assembly!

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