Front vise installation
Because I sometimes have a friend, or my daughter, in the workshop working on something or helping me with something, I have installed a vise on the back slab of the workbench as well. Both sides of the bench will be accessible to work from and for some of those larger projects I may end up going from one side to the next while working on different steps of a project. I decided to install a large face vise for this purpose as I’ve already got a leg vise and a tail vise. Time will tell if this is the right decision.
The vise hardware is the Lee Valley large face vise. The hardware is pretty straightforward. The base unit mounts onto the underside of the bench with bolts and the chop consists of two parts. An extension of the benchtop and the front chop where the screw is mounted. You could always recess the hardware into the bottom of the bench, but I think in my case this would be overkill.
The hardware comes with templates for placement of everything, including the three holes required for the screw mechanism to be mounted to the front of the chop. These line up with the holes in the main hardware mounted under the bench.
The hardest part of this process was getting the block that extends the benchtop down to the thickness of the vise chop. This not only needs to have the three holes for the screw and guide bars to pass through from the front of the chop into the main mechanism, there are essentially guide bushing that need to be recessed into the back side of the chop that help with alignment. It is not particularly difficult, but placement of the bushings will either make or break the smoothness of movement.
I have made the chop relatively large and will also be installing a sliding deadman on this side of the bench so that I can work on relatively large panels. For the time being I’m not worrying about making something to prevent racking, but if I start using the vise a lot I will likely either build a wedge or buy the fancy one that Lee Valley sells. I may also shape the chop a bit by rounding the front edges, but for now I’ll use it for a while and see what it needs.