Nicholson Prototype Face Vise Construction

The vises I had in mind for the Nicholson prototype were simple in concept and construction.  The face vise was simply two pieces of SYP 2x stock leftover from the bench construction.  I glued these together with my typical clamping of deck screws and fender washers, then drilled 1-1/2″ holes for the screw-stock to pass completely through.

The threaded holes in the apron were drilled at 1-3/8″, then tapped with the tool provided in the Beale kit.  I already had an oversized tap handle from a set of giant taps and dies I’ve had since forever.

It seemed so simple, two holes in the jaw, two holes in the apron.  Sigh.  I somehow managed to drill one of the threaded holes in the apron directly into the end of one of the battens underneath the top.  D’oh.  I had to cut the jaw to remove that hole, and drill another hole in the apron for the new screw location.  That’s why you build prototypes.  Given that we were going to be building perhaps as many as a dozen benches in the Arkansas workshop, it was good to get this mistake out the of the way now.  I’ll leave that hole in place as a reminder of my own hubris.  Not exactly a Saint Jerome “Memento Mori” moment, but a humbling touchstone nevertheless.

Back to the construction and assembly of the face vise.

My strategy was to assemble the screw unit as a whole, hub and handle hole included, before cutting the screws.  That worked out pretty well.  For the handle hubs I made four identical pieces of SYP 2x stock cut 4″x 4″.  I drilled the 1-1/2″ hole in the center of each of these four pieces, on two the holes went all the way through, on two they went 3/4 of the way through.

I set up the miter gauge on the table saw to make octagons out of the squares.

I glued the whole unit together with yellow glue.

The 1-1/16″ hole for the 1″ dowel handle was drilled on the drill press and then I could use a temporary handle to turn the unit as I cut the threads on the Beale unit.

The handles were outfitted with rubber chair tips on the ends and the vise was put in its place.