Hardware Alternatives


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Benchcrafted is a small company and as a result, they will periodically have backorders and hardware changes as time goes on. Additionally, not everyone can (or wants to) afford the asking price. So I wanted to start a thread dedicated to some potential hardware alternatives. If you have suggestions, post them here. If you actually installed something different on your bench, post a picture. I would like this to be a place where we can get some good ideas. In the future, I do plan on creating an add-on series of videos discussing alternatives. This thread could certainly help me select the appropriate hardware for this. Thanks folks.

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At the risk of being run out of town for not being a Guild member, I would like to suggest, for consideration, the following vises from Hovarter Custom Vise. As you can see on this product page they do have a leg vise. I have never used these vises so hopefully, someone who has, can share their experience. And, no, I do not have any affiliation with this company.

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I bought the Beall wood threading kit (used with a router) to make wooden threads. I turned nuts (instead of handwheels) which allow the threads to be closer to the bench top because they have a smaller diameter. The fit between the male and female threads is adjustable so I was able to get a loose fit which allows me to spin the nuts as easily as on the Benchcrafted version.

Here's a link to my blog post which contains a video showing the ease of adjustment. I'm really happy with the vise, by the way. It's almost as good as a patternmaker's vise. You can read more about the bench to which the vise is mounted here.

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A number of members are aware of the following two companies, but for those that aren’t, here are the links to their websites showing their wood screw vise kits. You can cut your own wood vise screw with a dowel thread cutter, but the largest size is 1 1/2” in diameter. These two companies wood vise screws are 2 1/2” and 2 5/8” in diameter and are made from hard maple stock. And, once again, I do not have any affiliation with these companies.

Lake Erie Toolworks

Big Wood Vise

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Benchcrafted is a small company and as a result, they will periodically have backorders and hardware changes as time goes on. Additionally, not everyone can (or wants to) afford the asking price. So I wanted to start a thread dedicated to some potential hardware alternatives. If you have suggestions, post them here. If you actually installed something different on your bench, post a picture. I would like this to be a place where we can get some good ideas. In the future, I do plan on creating an add-on series of videos discussing alternatives. This thread could certainly help me select the appropriate hardware for this. Thanks folks.

A perfect and timely thread..... Thanks

At the risk of being run out of town for not being a Guild member, I would like to suggest, for consideration, the following vises from Hovarter Custom Vise. As you can see on this product page they do have a leg vise. I have never used these vises so hopefully, someone who has, can share their experience. And, no, I do not have any affiliation with this company.

I like the looks of that leg vise. May not be as classic but no lower pin board to mess with and the clamping force looks substantial with that lower runner.

Woolly

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Benchcrafted is a small company and as a result, they will periodically have backorders and hardware changes as time goes on. Additionally, not everyone can (or wants to) afford the asking price. So I wanted to start a thread dedicated to some potential hardware alternatives. If you have suggestions, post them here. If you actually installed something different on your bench, post a picture. I would like this to be a place where we can get some good ideas. In the future, I do plan on creating an add-on series of videos discussing alternatives. This thread could certainly help me select the appropriate hardware for this. Thanks folks.

I really was not clear if Benchcrafted has abandoned the original vises that were part of the "Benchcrafted Spit-Top Roubo" guild build or just a delay or what. I am sure we will figure it out as the days progress. I, for one, am committed to a leg vise and some sort of tail vise be it a wagon vise or similar. Man that original design just seemed so functionally perfect. It was a great package.

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Great alternatives already. One thing I have to keep in mind if I choose to feature another set of hardware is that I don't want to trade one small company for another. I certainly have nothing against small companies but I do need to "future-proof" the series a bit. I'll be looking for very "generic" alternatives. The leg vise shouldn't be too hard. But the tail vise is a little easier said than done.... I should also state that I'm not looking for Benchcrafted copies or knock-offs. Just looking to substitute more traditional leg/tail vise hardware. Thanks for the great ideas so far. Keep them coming!

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a_vice03.jpg

How about the above wagon vice http://www.rm-workbe.../wagon_vice.htm

and this leg vise set up: http://www.hovarterc...t&product_id=52

legMech-500x500.jpgLeg-Vise-Rear2-500x500.jpg

0034-500x500.jpg

Hovarter also offers a wagon vise set up: http://www.hovarterc...t&product_id=53

wagonVise-228x228.gif

These are not cheap but should last forever and work perfectly. The original guild build design will obviously require some mods. As priced on the Hovarter website the leg and wagon vise can both be purchased for $585.00. Made in USA and "in stock"! A substantial savings over the original plan. Perhaps the Great One could wrangle us a deal? (Marc, thats you) :-)

I think I'm starting to lean....

Cheers,

Woolly

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!!!! GOD BLESS THOSE WHO SERVE, SERVED, AND GAVE IT ALL.

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With all due respect, 12 weeks will come and go, and the Benchcrafted hardware is amazing. I myself was originally disappointed in the "long" wait time (which for me was about 6 weeks), but I could not be happier with the results. The Hovarter leg vise looks very cool with the dual rods, but I would suggest that you acually SEE a BC vise personally and in action before you make your decision. There is something about the 1 1/4" threaded rod that for me says this is more like a fundamental component of the bench, not just a vise. At least that way, whichever way you go, you will at least appreciate knowing that you are making an informed decision.

Allen

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With all due respect, 12 weeks will come and go, and the Benchcrafted hardware is amazing. I myself was originally disappointed in the "long" wait time (which for me was about 6 weeks), but I could not be happier with the results. The Hovarter leg vise looks very cool with the dual rods, but I would suggest that you acually SEE a BC vise personally and in action before you make your decision. There is something about the 1 1/4" threaded rod that for me says this is more like a fundamental component of the bench, not just a vise. At least that way, whichever way you go, you will at least appreciate knowing that you are making an informed decision.

Allen

This is my first post here so bear with me but I could not agree with Allen more. I have been building the split-top Roubo over the last eleven months. However, every piece has been done with hand tools only. I have had the Glide up and running for the last couple of months and the only thing left is to finish the top. I have tried virtually every hardware system out there and to my mind, none of them compare to Benchcrafted hardware. To the point that some companies have tried incredibly hard to duplicate Benchcrafted's work. I think that Allen hit the nail on the head when he said you have plenty to do just getting your stock ready and building the parts you can and by the time you are finished with that you will have your hardware. The last thing that I will say is that I have not enjoyed building anything as much as I have this bench. I was not sure if I could make it happen with only hand tools but now I cannot imagine having built it in any other manner. Thank you, Fred

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Given where we’re at in this conversation, I figured I’d throw in what little I learned in this process.

If you break them down, the Benchcrafted vises are essentially the same: a locking lead screw with a flange nut, a captive flange, and a handwheel of some sort. The wagon vise has the additional component of some sort of guides (the steel rails that go under the bench) to make sure the flange nut just doesn’t spin in place. There’s some other odds and ends that are prudent to include like thrust washers and a lock nut, but we’ll get to those.

Being that they’re not made of some strange alloy of adamantium and mithral, they’re just steel acme lead screws, about 1 ¼” by the look of them. There’s a host of thread forms out there that will work for this application, square threads being the most efficient and expensive, acme threads being less of both. Roton has a fairly detailed page that talks to the various features lead screw threads. Thread choice is important because we must have a self-locking screw, meaning, that backthrust on the flange nut will not rotate the screw. This is what makes it lock in place with a gentle snug but still exert sufficient holding force. With other profiles like a torquespline, if you push the dog block or vise chop, the shaft will rotate and turn the handwheel and vice versa. We want the opposite effect, where if you push or pull on either the dog block or vise chop, it stays put, holds your work, but still move freely when the handwheel is turn ed. The next important feature is the TPI (turns per inch) or pitch of the screw. This is how many rotations of the shaft it will take to move the attachment 1 inch (or whatever units the manufacturer assigns to it).

A 5 TPI Acme thread screw is self-locking, plenty strong, and a comfortable rate to use (I’ve found) for both the wagon and front vise. I don’t know it for a fact, but it looks like that’s fairly close to what the Benchcrafted hardware uses.

You can get these screws from Roton, Nook Industries, and number of other sources. Anything between 1 ¼” and ¾” will probably be ok for most of what we’re doing. If you dive into the datasheets for most acme screws in those sizes, the stock parts (screw, nut, and flanges) will reliably transmit 2,000 to 7,000 thousand pounds for repeated operation. Most of the working loads we’ll be working are usually far less than 500 pounds. Beyond that, there’s not much a beefier screw is getting you other than mass (for momentum in much the same way that makes cast iron a great surface), stiffness, and feedback when you’re positioning it. The price scales with the screw diameter too. There’s also a slight difference in price between right and left handed screws. Below I’ve put together a table to look at a complete screw set up using stock Roton parts (which is the vendor that I used) to make both a wagon vise and a leg vise in 1 ¼”, 1”, and ¾” sizes.

3/4” Soltuion

Stock # Part Qnty Each Total

59502 Acme Lead Screw, 3/4 - 5, LH, Steel (per inch) 24 $11.43 $22.86

90237 Acme Sleeve Nut, 3/4 - 5, LH, Bronze 1 $32.47 $32.47

95901 Acme Lead Screw, 3/4 - 5, RH, Steel (per inch) 24 $6.69 $13.38

90236 Acme Sleeve Nut, 3/4 - 5, RH, Bronze 1 $29.55 $29.55

90203 Flange, Steel 2 $38.58 $77.16

$175.42

1” Soltuion

Stock # Part Qnty Each Total

59390 Acme Lead Screw, 1 - 5, LH, Steel (per inch) 24 $11.49 $22.98

89482 Acme Sleeve Nut, 1 - 5, LH, Bronze 1 $39.73 $39.73

59286 Acme Lead Screw, 1 - 5, RH, Steel (per inch) 24 $14.09 $28.18

89419 Acme Sleeve Nut, 1 - 5, RH, Bronze 1 $36.15 $36.15

90083 Flange, Steel
2 $44.39 $88.78

$215.82

1 1/4” Soltuion

Stock # Part Qnty Each Total

59475 Acme Lead Screw, 1 1/4 - 5, LH, Steel (per inch) 24 $17.26 $34.52

90183 Acme Sleeve Nut, 1 1/4 - 5, LH, Bronze 1 $68.15 $68.15

59474 Acme Lead Screw, 1 1/4 - 5, RH, Steel (per inch) 24 $14.64 $29.28

90182 Acme Sleeve Nut, 1 1/4 - 5, RH, Bronze 1 $62.03 $62.03

90185 Flange, Steel
2 $58.95 $117.90

$311.88

Note that only about 15-20% of the total cost in the screw itself. Most everything else is in two sleeve nuts and the flanges they go into. That’s because both of those parts are all internal machining and probably very labor/time/machine intensive. There are plastic nuts/flange combinations available for ¾ and smaller screws that would save about $70 overall, however, I cannot more strongly recommend against them for a high-dust environment since any little bit of debris that gets in there is going to chew away at the surfaces very quickly. Bronze or similar is what you want for the sleeve nut material. The only reason I used bronze was because PTFE impregnated Bronze wasn’t available.

At this point you’ll need a machinist than can turn a pilot and some standard threads on the screws and manufacture the flanges. I had the work done by http://shop.cjamasterworks.com/ and it was a really positive experience. Not only was Chris a frond of details and knowledge, he was fast, responsive to emails, and much like my self, really seemed to enjoy the intellectual reward of this project. Anyway, you’ll want to mill about 2” of 3/4” pilot onto the end of the screw, followed by 1 ½” of 5/8-11 thread so that a nylock nut can tension the screw against the bearing, then 2” of ½ pilot for the handwheel. I completely abandoned the Benchcrafted style of under-bench guides and made the other end of the wagon vise supported in a second bearing/flange. This goes on the end of both screws. See the image below.

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You'll want to have this conversation in detail with your machinist since there's a lot of options on how to skin this cat. It's important to figure out how many inches of pilot go on each end, then add that to how many inches of threaded surface you want on your screws. I had 18" of threading, then 3.003" of pilot work on the hand wheel end, so a total length just a hair over 21". The wagon vise had 1" of additional pilot on the supported end, so 22 and change. Order 24" of screw made sense at the time since a lot of this hadn't been solved yet. Here's some more detail.

post-5526-0-12811700-1338417692_thumb.jp

The wagon vise get an additional 1” of ¾ pilot on the other end to act as the support. The dog block itself will be the guide surface. A 1 ¼” Forstner bit was perfect for drilling the holes in the both the end cap and at the root of the wagon trench for mounting the bearings (as well as the leg vise chop). The outside of the bearing is slightly tapered and fit with just the right amount of snugness to hold it still while screwing it down. Getting the bearing positioned correctly was easy as well. With the flanges in hand, line them up at the root of the cavity flush with the bottom of the bench and the inside of the wagon vise trench, then mark it with a pencil and drill away. Strike a line down on the inside of the end cap with a straight edge to transfer the inner edge of the trench, then drill away. Getting the bearings aligned and installed took about 30 minutes total. I had to make and glue a guide block to the inside of the dog block, essentially sanded to slightly less than the dimensions of the cavity, to mount the flange to, but that was easy enough.

post-5526-0-02025100-1338416675_thumb.jp

post-5526-0-22095100-1338416682_thumb.jp

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Speaking of PTFE impregnated Bronze, I had genuine self-cinching, self-aligning bearings added to the captive flanges on both ends. Spyraflo makes a line of them and the machinist ordered them direct for me. You can check available sizes here. They were something like $7 each.

http://www.spyraflo....ptfe_bronze.php

And here they are completed:

post-5526-0-70371500-1338416640_thumb.jp

The flange plates I had made were 1 ¾” square with holes drilled for mounting screws and the bearing press-fit into them. Here’s a picture of the completed assembly.

There were some other Thrustwashers and spacers needed to ensure the rotating handwheels and screws weren’t digging at the bearing faces. Those were relatively cheap too, totaling something less than $10 for both vises. Here's how it looked fully assembled.

post-5526-0-08629600-1338416656_thumb.jp

Handwheels are an interesting topic in this process. For budgeting purposes, pick any number greater than $25 for each vise and go with it. I picked two chrome plated, cast-iron hand wheels from Carrlane that I then had further modified by boring the shaft out to 5/8” and two set screws added. Overall, that was about $115. I did it just because handwheels on 1000PSI steam valves are a big part of my life and I, well, I have an acquired taste for these things. This is where you can really save some money over my plan. Two hours with Google will reveal a rather more complex landscape of handwheel manufacturers than most people will anticipate. As long as they meet the needs of whatever machinist is doing the work and it’s something that looks ok to you, then there you have it. It’s not like you’re building a bench for anyone’s benefit other than your own. The only thing they need to accomplish are A) stick to the shaft in some durable manner and B) make the shaft go roundy-roundy. So, metals are preferred, cast iron is great for doing the spinny thing. Aluminum will work. Quality composites will work. Assuming that they will survive a shop environment, it’s all aesthetic from there on. If you're really struggling with this part, let me know and I'll help you though it.

post-5526-0-51503300-1338416662_thumb.jp

post-5526-0-02994800-1338416669_thumb.jp

My total price, all things said and done: $761.46. Remember that I spent about $80 more on handwheels than was needed. This was also a one-off project for the machinist. If enough people order the same product as a group (presumably the length of the threaded surface for each being variable per vise), the savings of scale could be as much as 30% on labor. That means both vises at your door for potentially as little as $600. You still won’t have the parallel guides, leather, or barrel nuts/screws that come in the kit. I got the leather and guides from Benchcrafted, then 8” hex cap lag screws with nuts, washers, and lock washes from Lowes for something like $4.

Was it worth it? I dunno. I really like my vises. They are remarkably tough and resilient. I really like the fact that I had total control over the dimensions. I have 15” of clamping space off the ends of the dog block in the wagon vise if the need arises. If I need to repair or replace anything other than the screw or the flanges itself I can do it for less than $40 and one click of the shopping cart. If you don’t want the metal guide under your wagon vise the way the Benchcrafted is set up, you might want to think about it. I have high-dust bearings and flanges that can handle up to 6 times the weight of the bench in lateral movement, let alone the clamping/locking force to move a compact car if the bench doesn’t fail first. Ok, that last bit really only applies if I have plane down a door during the impending Zombie Apocalypse, but it's hard to be overprepared for such things. So was it really worth it? Meh. Point is, it can be done. It's an alternative. Custom vises are cheaper like custom furniture is cheaper.

Anyway, here's the finished bench.

post-5526-0-08174200-1338416698_thumb.jp

And now: Fajitas.

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I commend the engineering you undertook to complete your vise hardware, Imaginos! You certainly have some mad skills in that department. I'm actually going to look into one of those captive flanges for the tail vise. The only issue I have (though it does not affect the smoothness or the clamping pressure of the mechanism itself) is that the threaded rod wobbles a bit at the far end, where nothing is there to hold it stationary. This is especially true if the dog block is near the vise handle when I start to rotate the screw.

For you, I would recommend some nice rosewood knobs for your handles though. Or considering your penchant for metal machining, billet aluminum would be awesome.

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This is my first post here so bear with me but I could not agree with Allen more. I have been building the split-top Roubo over the last eleven months. However, every piece has been done with hand tools only. I have had the Glide up and running for the last couple of months and the only thing left is to finish the top. I have tried virtually every hardware system out there and to my mind, none of them compare to Benchcrafted hardware. To the point that some companies have tried incredibly hard to duplicate Benchcrafted's work. I think that Allen hit the nail on the head when he said you have plenty to do just getting your stock ready and building the parts you can and by the time you are finished with that you will have your hardware. The last thing that I will say is that I have not enjoyed building anything as much as I have this bench. I was not sure if I could make it happen with only hand tools but now I cannot imagine having built it in any other manner. Thank you, Fred

Fred, you must post some pictures of your hand carved Roubo!

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Fred, you must post some pictures of your hand carved Roubo!

Allen & All,

I will post four older pictures here as I forgot that my newest pictures are down in my shop on my other lapop. I will post them later. The wood that I used for the base is soft maple and it was a true pleasure to work. The Glide, parrallel guide and my officially named "Sliding Dead Dude" (SDD) are all made from Tasmanian Pink Myrtle and finally the top is being made from old growth Santa Maria that spent the last 230 or so years under water in one of the rivers in Belize. It is NOT a pleasure to work with hand tools but I am doing it. :o) It is very hard, dense, heavy and quite rough on edges. However, it is going to make a wonderful bench top and when finished the top alone will weigh around 300 lbs. I believe that my entire bench will weigh in between 450-500 lbs which makes me quite happy.

You will also see that the (SDD) is short of the bench height. I built the glide to the specs based upon Jameel's plans because I did not know at the time if I would be getting the Santa Maria in time. Because I did receive it in time, I had it cut to five inches thick. So, I have a beautiful piece of ebony that I am simply going to attach to the top of the Glide with a sliding dovetail which will give me plenty of height.

The reason that I have all of the different woods with the different colors is that I just did not want a white on white bench. It is a beautiful clean look but I just wanted something else.

Fred

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I replaced the leg vise with the Veritas Twin Screw vise. I know that Marc said he did not much care for this vise, but I have always wanted one on my bench and now I am very close to making it happen. I also replaced the Benchcrafted Tail Vise with the Lee Valley Tail Vise Screw. I did not install the tail vise in the standard way, but I installed it just like the BC Tail Vise. It actually remains pretty stable without much “sag”, even when the block reaches the end of the travel. However, when I apply pressure to it, it has a tendance to rise up about 1/8” to 3/16”. I am considering making some sort of rail system for the block to ride on that will eliminate all of the rise and sag. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.

Jeff

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I went with the Benchcrafted Glide Leg Vise since they still had some of those in stock. For the tail vise, I ordered a Richard Maguire Wagon vise. Benchcrafted reports my leg vise as "shipped". Have not heard from England yet.

I got the leg vise from Benchcrafted in 3 days via USPS Priority mail. Wagon vise has shipped.

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  • 6 months later...

I functioned pretty well with two face (front) vises with dog holes on the chops which aligned with holes along the bench. One mounted along left front, the other at the end of the bench. They have two screws, but not to be confused with twin screw vises I guess (those of the wide spread between screws such as the Veritas). Cost of face vises well under $100. They can function much as a wagon vise with dogs for surface clamping. Racking is a big complaint, but that is more sweetness issue as there are numerous work arounds if needed. Use of clamps and cauls expand functionality.

I went the Benchcrafted route and am a very happy woodworker with the combo of Leg and Wagon Vises. But if cost is big issue, you can do plenty of fine woodworking without such luxuries.

I built a Moxon-type removable twin screw device before doing the Roubo and Benchcrafted bench. That was a sweet addition to my two face vises. I did use Benchcrafted hardware for that, but there are plenty of ways to make it work at even lower cost if desired. The Moxon vise is very useful even with the Roubo and BC vises. It gets you the wide board clamping capability as with the built-in twin screws but much easier installation and simple maintenance if required. Another big advantage is raising the workpiece which is nice for hand saw (and many other) operations.

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