The Milkman's Workbench Build - Part 4

by Mark Hochstein

Now that I have most of the bench complete it's time to start gluing and cleaning some things up. The first order of business was to glue up the two parts of the bench top. For this I used the same technique I used when I was gluing up the ash 2x4's for my bench top: apply the glue to both sides and then use parallel jaw clamps to keep the two pieces in alignment while you apply the clamping pressure. 

If you are gluing up more than two pieces this technique works great. After 15 minutes you can unclamp long enough to add another piece on and re-clamp the stack and keep going. You'll end up with a slab where all the pieces are in almost perfect alignment.

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After setting those aside to dry I moved on to making the block for the wagon vise. This is a close tolerance operation. If the block is too tight it will bind, but if it's too lose it will rack and also bind. I started at the table saw to put the rabbets that form the tenons on each end of the block. The shoulder cuts were the most critical because I really didn't want to have to break out the shoulder plane on the maple end grain.

Making the should cuts for the tenons on the ends of the vise block

Making the should cuts for the tenons on the ends of the vise block

Here I'm using a scrap block to back up the cut just to guard against any tear-out. You could obviously use a rabbet plane to make this tenon as well.

From here I used the tenoning jig to finish the tenon, intentionally leaving it just a hair thick so I should plane it down for a perfect fit.

Trimming the tenons on the wagon vise block

Trimming the tenons on the wagon vise block

Ok, time to thread some holes! The tap that comes with the Beall Tool Company threading kit is a nice piece of kit. In Chris's article he mentions using a vise grip to turn the tap. You don't need to do that. A 1/2" wrench will fit the end of the tap perfectly. I recommend using two wrenches, but if you don't have two 1/2" open end wrenches on hand a 13mm open end wrench will work just fine as well. Here's my thread tapping kit:

Thread tapping kit

Thread tapping kit

The pilot on the bottom of the tap keeps it pretty well aligned in the hole. By using two wrenches you distribute the force on both sides of the tap and it will feed it self right through the hole - no downward pressure required. I tried threading some holes dry and then soaking some of them in mineral spirits and alcohol and I couldn't tell a difference between them in either effort or tearout. They all looked the same in the end. I had the square handy to ensure I was keeping everything square to the work, but I really didn't need it. The tap fed perfectly every single time.

Use two wrenches to make tapping the hole much easier

Use two wrenches to make tapping the hole much easier

Eight holes tapped

Eight holes tapped

After tapping the holes I went on to drill the 1" hole in the vise blocks and then cut the 1/4" wide mortise in the vise block to receive the garter. To make the garter I took a piece of 1/4" maple and drilled a 3/4" hole centered in it. Stick it in the mortise and make sure the hole is centered in the hole you drilled in the vised block.

Garter centered in the hole

Garter centered in the hole

So, at this point I've done just about everything I can do before hitting the lathe. I'm not much of a turner, so we'll see how I do with that next time.

Thanks for reading!

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