Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Tale of Two Holes

I'm building a new workbench.  Since I've gotten deeply interested in hand planes, and since I need to cut a good many dovetails on the Winchester secretary I'm building, I need a bench with a solid hardwood top, bench dog holes and good side and tail vises.  So I've taken that on as an interim project.

I got a supply of 8/4 hard maple and, with the help of a friend, jointed and planed it square and smooth.  Then I ripped it into 3-inch widths, which I stood on edge and glued together to make a 3-inch thick top.  More planing followed to even out the edges, leaving me with a 2-3/4-inch thick top, more than heavy enough.

Now I'm installing a Veritas twin screw vise on the left front side of the bench.  The first step was to drill 1-1/2-inch holes in the front and back faces of the vise to accommodate the screws.  The front face I drilled with a Forstner bit on my drill press.  But the back face is an apron that runs the approximately seven feet length of the bench.  No drill press for that!  So I clamped the two boards together in their proper relationship and, using a device that holds the drill vertically (see photos), I began boring out the holes.

The first hole went fairly well, though the going was slow.  But the second one seemed to take forever.  Was the Forster bit too hot (it was hot)?  Was I drilling too fast for the bit to bite into the wood?  Had I dulled the bit beyond usefulness?

I'm not sure which of those explanations works, but I did eventually finish the hole without having to spring for another bit.

There's still more to do, but I'm at least making progress.  With any luck, I'll have the vise installed and the remaining parts glued together and ready to install by next week.


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