Workbench Wednesday – Gunsmith Partner’s Bench Complete

(ascending soap box) The final tasks for the completion of the gunsmith’s partner bench have now been accomplished and the beast is awaiting delivery this weekend, provided the client can make it back from riot-duty in Richmond.  I am hoping for his safe return and for the rioters to spend the rest of their lives in prison.  Peaceful protests and redress of grievances are grand and glorious freedoms, rioting is barbarous nihilism, arson, and theft.  Words have meanings, and “peaceful assembly” is not what we have been seeing these past several days.  We have been witnessing the sowing of seeds of the wind, only time will tell if we reap the whirlwind.  (descending from soap box)

My first task in this home stretch work was to replace any of the modern decking screws I had left visible in the bench when first putting it together months ago.  These screws were removed and replaced with counter-sunk 3-inch #14 slotted flat head wood screws from Blacksmith Bolt.  If I recall correctly this task involved only twelve screws I had used to fasten the end aprons to the legs, but the logistics were a challenge in the tight quarters.

I added additional screws at the edge of the top, tying those boards into the apron more securely.   With that corner secured I could complete the planing of the edges of the top boards to be flush with the apron face.  I almost always construct Nicholson benches with the top boards projecting over the apron by at least 1/16″ after initial assembly to allow me to plane the edges flush as with this one.  I also hand planed the entire apron as there were some excessive chatter marks from the mill.

Having established the crisp corner of the top and apron, the leg vise was finally finished with the rear block installed with vintage square-head lag bolts, protruding above the bench top thus turning it into something kin to a carver’s vise.  Which in fact it will be as the primary activity will be the shaping and fabricating of replica frontier long-rifles.  I had already chopped the through-mortise for the parallel guide through the leg based on the mortise already present in the re-used vise jaw.  It is unlikely that the jaw will ever be opened more than 4″ but it is ready if the need for a full opening presents itself.  I suspect the faces of the vise will be leather lined at some point, but that is for the user to decide.

Diagonal to the leg vise I installed the twin screw face vise.  Given the “partner’s bench” design of the workbench this will allow two gunsmiths to work at the same time.

A few holes for holdfasts, especially for the clamping of the portable Moxon vises, and the bench was finished.

It will be grand to have that space freed up, as this was the largest thing I have built there since making the giant arched window frame many years ago.