Getting set for Tools of the Trades?

This coming Sunday it’s time once again for the spring  “Tools of the Trades” at the Pickering Recreation Complex: April 3rd – 10am to 3pm.

Time again to spend a couple of hours digging through some vintage tools. If you are a new to woodworking, looking to buy a set of starter tools for a reasonable price, there is no better show in Canada. There is always a good selection of vintage Stanley, British planes (Record), wooden planes, and a few Millers Falls and Sargents. Occasionally there are also some Japanese tools, and a *whole* bunch of wooden planes.


Raw Craft series

Do you like Anthony Bourndain’s shows “No Reservations” and “The Layover”? Like craft? Then check out this series called Raw Craft – short videos on classic handcrafts like bookmaking, and forging. (Sponsored by The Balvenie distillery.

An interesting modified bench vise

In Francis Young’s book, “Every Man His Own Mechanic“, he included an Appendix which contained interesting new tools and devices. This vise offers an interesting modification to traditional vises. As discussed by Young:

“Instead of having the edge of the top plank to come level with the face of the bench, to let it project out about two inches: the recess thus formed being out of your way, would enable you to plane timber up better edgewise by not catching up against the side of the bench. It would enable to you cramp anything to the bench by the projecting ledge; it would enable you to hang anything up in the recess thus formed underneath; and, lastly, it would enable you much better to shoot up straight the front edge of your bench”


Here A represents the nut for the bench screw, which in this instance s placed in front of the bench leg, B, secured to the leg by through bolts. The normal position of course is to the rear of the bench leg, as shown by the dotted lines at C. The “making-up” piece, between the top of the bench, K, and the nut A, is shown in section at L. This bench uses a loose vise-leg, F, to hold the bench screw, with H denoting the “gripping piece” which is attached to the vise-leg on the inside, and extends above the top of the leg-vise ( the top of H could of course be flush with the top of F). The head of the bench screw is shown at G.Two bench stops are shown at D and E.


Parallel devices for leg vises (iv): The adapted runner

“An adaptation of the runner to the screw, extending the whole length of the bench-leg or nearly so, is shown in figs. 246 and 247, of which the former shows the end elevation of the screw, check, runner, and bench, and the latter the front elevation of the bench-vice.”


“The position of the screw in this arrangement is a good one, because more space is given between the upper part of the screw and the top of the bench for holding short boards. The reader must now be so familiar with the component parts of the bench as to render unnecessary any reference in detail to these parts as shown in the figures.

The runner A is a piece of board let into the lower end of the check and passed through a hole cut in the leg for its reception. A series of holes are bored in the runner, and when the vice is screwed up a pin of wood or iron is inserted in the hole that happens to be nearest the leg, to prevent further progress of the runner inwards. It may be of use to say that all runners should work tightly, but with ease, in the cases made, or holes cut, for their reception, and this effect is best produced by keeping the runners greased. The runner should be made of hard, close-grained wood.”

Notes: The adapted runner (aka. parallel guide)  is commonly used in making contemporary benches (popularized by Christopher Schwarz). The main difference in contemporary leg vises is that the parallel guide is often mated to the leg-vise using a wedged through tenon, and the leg-vise itself extends nearly to the height of the bench. Other newer modifications, include the use of three rows of holes in the guide, and the inclusion a chain assembly  to help the parallel guide move.

Parallel devices for leg vises (iii): The runner

“The object of the runner is to preserve the parallelism of the cheek and bench-front. In fig. 245 A shows the runner and the way in which it is attached to the cheek B. This runner works in a case, formed by the boards C, C, which extend from front to back of the bench and enclose the runner on both sides, keeping it in position.

PDfig245The screw D may also work in a case, whose sides E, E, should just touch the threads of the screw as lightly as possible.”

Notes: This is an extremely interesting and simple design for achieving parallelism in a leg-vise, by restricting the movement of the runner inside the case. The concept is similar to the  Pinless Leg Vice, (designed by Richard Maguire) which uses a linear bearing. Technically, if the runner A, is constrained by the case, then the vice is not able to wrack. The longer the runner is, the more efficient this becomes.

Anyone built something similar to this?

Parallel devices for leg vises (ii): The Croix de St. Pierre

The “Croix de St. Pierre” or “St. Peter’s Cross”.

In fig. 243 the Croix de St. Pierre, its manner of action, and the mode of fixing it, is shown in a section of the bench and bench-vice, which affords the most convenient method of exhibiting these points clearly and intelligibly. In this figure, A represents the bench-top, B the bench-front, C the bench-leg, opposite to which the bench-vice D is placed, E the bench-screw, and F the block at the back of the bench-leg, perforated by a female screw, in which the bench-screw E works.

PDfig243It will be noticed that in this figure, the cheek of the bench-vice, instead of being about the depth of the board which forms the bench-front or a little deeper, as in the ordinary carpenter’s bench, is long and comparatively narrow, extending downwards nearly to the ground. It is, moreover, placed exactly opposite the leg of the bench, so that the bars which form the cross may be conveniently attached to both bench and bench-vice, and work in a suitable manner.

The Croix de St. Pierre is nothing more than two flat bars of iron of equal length connected at the centre of each by a pin, G, about which they freely turn. For the reception of the bars, two deep grooves, H and K, are cut in the bench-leg and cheek of the bench-vice, exactly opposite each other, and of the width of the two bars placed together or just a trifle more. The ends L and M of the bars are fastened by pins running through the bench-leg and bench-cheek respectively. The other ends N and O are left free, and work up and down the bottom of the grooves, which may be lined, if desired, with a piece of iron plate cut to fit them exactly.

Now, as the bars are secured at the upper end of each and fastened together in the centre, it is manifest that they will act in the same manner as a pair of scissors, and that when the ends L and M are pushed apart or drawn together the ends N and O will be pushed apart or drawn together in like manner. When the bench-cheek is close to and touching the bench-front and leg, the ends N and O of the bars will touch the ends of the grooves; but as the screw is turned so as to bring the cheek outwards, the ends L and M are drawn apart, and the ends N and O follow the course of the dotted lines, exerting an outward thrust, the one on the bench-leg and the other on the bench-cheek, and preserving perfect parallelism between the faces of the two.

When the screw is turned in the opposite effect is produced, but it may be necessary to assist the return of the bench-cheek by a little gentle pressure at the bottom, which might be applied with the foot. This would be rendered unnecessary if the free ends of the bars were contrived so as to work in a groove similar to that employed for the rack of a window-blind, as shown in section at P.

NOTES: This classic method of parallelizing a leg-vice has been resurrected, and made popular, by Benchcrafted, in the guise of the Crisscross (albeit in the context of the complete vise, the wooden screw is sometimes replaced with a metal one).