English Workbench – mortices for vice and bench stop

Today’s update consists entirely of making holes – hole 1 is for the bench stop, hole 2 (more of a trench really) is to accommodate the top of the rear jaws of the vice.

My brilliant plan for the vice is to fit it on the inside of the apron and, so it will sit slightly lower than the top, it is necessary to create a trench (housing – is that the right term?) in the underside of the top. I chopped the trench so it ended 1/4” under the top surface and I hope this is enough to allow for an initial few flattenings before the top of the trench is exposed and I have to fit a hardwood insert. An insert is probably not a bad idea in the long run as it would be less liable to being dented etc , but I do not have any suitable timber at the moment so I am hoping the top of the vice does not make an unwelcome appearance during the first flattening attempt…

Obviously fitting the vice like this means the apron will form the rear face of the vice. Those who have read Paul Sellers’ views on this matter will know one of his reasons for preferring a sticky-out vice is that it makes placing large pieces in the vice easier, because you can use a natural grip for heavy work (e.g putting it under your right arm) without the apron getting in the way. I confess I found exactly this problem when when planing the edges of the planks for the top in my old vice (which is also flush fitted), often resorting to holding the wood in a pinch grip from the top which is far from ideal.

Nonetheless I am persisting with my flush fitting vice as I am intrigued to see what can be done when using the apron as a working surface, my thought being I can always add an a bit of timber on the apron if I don’t like it.

One other job I forgot to mention is to check the frame for twist. I was lucky in my case as it was not twisted (apparently longer benches tend to twist in line with any unevenness of the floor as they are not fully stiffened until the top is on – in this case you can use wedges under the legs to get rid of the twist before fixing on the top)

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hole for the bench stop – it will be just behind the vice

morice/trench/housing/whatever it is called in the underside of the top to accomodate the the rear jaw of the vice – I made it bigger than the rear jaw to allow some wriggle room when fitting:

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‘only’ flattening, vice, bench stop and finishing to go!

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top glued and nailed on. With a bit of judicious clamping there are no gaps where the top and the aprons join

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You need a decent hammer for this type of bench – I counted over 100 nails – mine’s made by Plumb and I like it a lot.

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