Finishing the Holy Roman Face Vise



I made up the maple hooky-looking vise nuts for the face vise today. I’m not completely happy with the final shape – the hook on the end needs to be more fish hook-y. But they work.

First I drilled a 23mm hole for each hooky nut in a maple blank, then I tapped each hole. After I confirmed the tapped holes were true and accurate, I drew their shape around each hole. Then I sawed them out and shaped them with a coarse rasp.


The chop for the vise is off-fall from cutting the notch in the benchtop. I planed up the chop (the inside face is purposely planed so it is slightly convex) and applied adhesive cork to the inside face of the chop and between the threaded screws glued to the benchtop.


Then I flipped the bench on its feet and have it a test run. No surprise: the vise worked as expected.

The vise screws poke out about 4” from the jaw of the vise, so I might need to ask Peter Follansbee to spoon-carve me a cup to wear while working at the bench. While I have no further plans to reproduce, I also don’t want to mangle my soft bits (like I did when reproducing Moxon’s face vise).


With the face vise working, I’m turning my attention to the end vise and the gorgeous hardware from blacksmith Peter Ross and Lake Erie Toolworks.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Roman Workbenches, Uncategorized | 14 Comments

Good Evening! Forum Update 8/29


Good evening and welcome to Monday. After you order your copy of the “Stanley Catalogue No. 34” it is time to read the forum. Remember, if you have a question about our products, procedures in our books or anything related to Lost Art Press, the fastest way to get an answer is our forum. Check it out here.

Dealing with a Water Stain
How does one remove a water stain from untreated European oak? Or can you? If this is an area you have expertise in, here is the place to leave some advise.

Bookcase Finishing
Kevin is trying to figure out in what order he wants to paint, glue and nail his bookshelf. He asked if anyone had pictures of their projects showing these steps done in different orders. A few people have responded and this bookshelf by Michael gets my vote! (above) You can give your feedback here.

Project Ideas for k5-2nd Grade
Mark is going to be teaching kiddos a little something about woodworking and is looking for project ideas. They will be using cedar, leather, and copper tacks, nails or rivets. If you have ideas for him, let him know here.

Moravian Workbench: Does it Stand up to Hand Planing?
This question is pretty straightforward. Robert just wants to know if this bench can handle dimensioning boards cross grain with a scrub plane. Help him out here.

Panel Saw for Bench Work
Shannon is in the market for a panel saw and is looking for recommendations. Right now she is looking at the BT&C Hardware Store saw and curious to know if anyone has feedback on it. If you do, or have another panel saw you would like to vote for, here is the place to comment.


Dutch Tool Chest with Leather Hinges
I have seen many people on the forum looking for cheaper alternatives for hinges that still give personality to their projects. I like Mark’s solution for his dutch tool chest. The leather hinges added turned out to be a great addition. More pictures here.

Meghan Bates


Posted in Forum, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

More Holy Roman Weirdness


While the jaw of the face vise of this Roman workbench is unusual enough (it’s inset into the benchtop), the screws that operate the vise work unlike most modern vises.

In a modern face vise, the screw turns inside a nut to advance or retract the jaw of the vise. With this vise, the screw is fixed and it’s the nut that moves. This is a very typical construction found in benches from the 1500s up through the late 1700s (and perhaps later).

After weighing all the options for making and installing the screws, here’s how I did it. It might not be the way they did it in 1505 or even the best way, but it was the best method for my tools and the way my mind works.

To make the screws, first I made a 28mm maple dowel on the lathe and left one end square so I could clamp it in the vise. The maple blank was about 12” long, and after threading it I ended up with about 9” of thread.

After threading the dowel with a German-made threader, I cut off the square section.


Then I drilled two deep 25mm holes in the benchtop. With my threadbox, you are supposed to bore a 23mm hole. But I used 25mm so I could adjust the screw so it protruded dead square from the benchtop. That 2mm of slop gave me just enough wiggle.


Then I threaded the 25mm holes.

To assemble things, I coated 3” of the threads with epoxy and coated the interior of the holes with epoxy. I screwed in each screw until 6” protruded from the benchtop. Finally, I adjusted the screws so they were dead square with a clamp.

The epoxy filled in the 1mm gap all around the screws, producing a very sound joint.

Why use a modern glue and not hide glue (my favorite glue)? Epoxy has more gap-filling properties than hide glue in my experience. And filling gaps is what I was after. Part of me thought: Wait, don’t I want the joint to be reversible in case I wanted to repair the screws?


Then the other lobe of my brain answered: How would you repair a damaged 28mm threaded rod? That’s like taking a gerbil to the oncologist. You’d cut off the damaged screw and install a new screw. Duh, other lobe.

So epoxy it was.

Today I also received the hardware for the end vise from blacksmith Peter Ross (it’s gorgeous). I hope to get started installing that stuff tomorrow.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Roman Workbenches, Uncategorized | 15 Comments

Now in the Store: ‘Stanley Catalogue No. 34’


Every now and then, we like to release a book without a long preamble. Something beautiful, useful and inexpensive.

Today we are accepting pre-publication orders for a reprint of the Stanley Tools No. 34 Catalogue, a project that has been a technical challenge for the last few months. It is $25, which includes shipping in the United States and Canada. It is available for ordering in our store. It will ship out in mid-September (it also will be offered for sale at Woodworking in America).

You can place your pre-publication order here. Orders received before Sept. 15 will also receive a free high-resolution scan of the catalog in pdf format.

This 1914 catalog shows nearly every tool needed in a hand-tool shop, from the chisels to the butt gauges to every sort of plane in the company’s line. The catalog’s text explains what each one is used for and how it functions differently from other similar tools.


The catalog also has fantastic exploded views of many of the complex tools, such as the company’s miter boxes, the multi-planes and handplanes.

When I was a beginning woodworker, I often read through catalogs such as this before I headed out to the local antique markets so I could identify what I was seeing and know if it was something useful (do I need a clapboard gauge, a wantage rod or a board stick?). Thanks to vintage catalogs I also could easily figure out when tools that I spotted for sale had parts that were missing. And I even learned how to adjust my grandfather’s level with the help of the old catalogs..G8453-TEXT-91While there are some poor-quality scans available of early catalogs on the Internet, we wanted to do better than that. For a long time, we have sought to publish a crisp and classy catalog from the heyday of Stanley Tools’ production of woodworking tools. So we collected a bunch of catalogs and finally settled on one produced in 1914 – one of our favorite eras of Stanley’s output.

This catalog contains all the planes, hand drills, measuring tools, chisels and hundreds more that are critical to a furniture shop, but without a lot of the oddball stuff that came later.

After selecting the catalog we liked the best, the next challenge was printing it. We wanted to capture and reproduce the crisp drawings from the 1914 original and produce it on the smooth and hard paper that was common at the time.

Without getting too geeky, we worked with our pre-press people to figure out a way to scan and print this catalog so it looked identical to the original. We had to develop a new scanning and image-processing routine to make the scans. Then we made a sample catalog using the scans on a modern offset press. We crossed our fingers. Many reproduction catalogs look muddy and display “moire” because of the screens used in the day.

Our pre-press manager came back with this happy news: “It looks clean enough to eat off of.”

We are pleased to offer this 144-page catalog, which looks and feels like the 1914 original. The only “improvements” we made to the vintage catalog is that we spent the extra money to sew and glue the signatures for extra durability. And we used acid-free paper to prevent the pages from yellowing over time.

If you are just getting into hand tools, we think you will find this catalog a delight to read, hold and learn from. The information in it is factual and straightforward – not the puffery you get from many modern catalogs. And if you collect or appreciate vintage hand tools, we think you love this catalog, which reproduces the vintage drawings with remarkable clarity.

Like all Lost Art Press books, this is produced entirely in the United States using domestic materials. Softcover. 144 pages. Color cover with black & white interior.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Stanley Catalogue No. 34, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Soft Wax is Back


Katy has just finished up a batch of 30 tins of soft wax and listed them in her etsy store. It’s been a crazy summer for her. She’s been working (a lot) as a bagger at the local grocery, and she had (a lot of) summer homework to complete before starting school.

Each 4 oz. tin is $12 plus a modest shipping charge. All the wax is handmade by her in our workshop here in Kentucky. No slave labor (other than her father) was involved.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

The Unusual Face Vise of the Loffelholz Workbench


One of the odd things about the face vise I’m building into this Holy Roman Empire Bench is the twin-screw face vise. Unlike every other face vise I’ve seen in the wild, this one is inset into the benchtop instead of proud of it.

Why? On its surface this plan seems less than ideal. Because the jaw of the vise will be sitting in a notch in the benchtop, it won’t be useful for edge-jointing long boards. If the jaw were proud of the benchtop, it would be ideal for edge-jointing.

I’ve been scratching my head about this for months (maybe longer). The best explanation I can come up with at this point is that this assembly allows you to save a little wood. You can cut the jaw away from the benchtop and then use the off-fall as the vise’s jaw.

So that’s exactly what I am doing today.


The jaw is 1-3/4” thick x 26” long. I laid out my cuts and then used my circular saw to kerf the benchtop, giving me a nice guide for my rip saw. After ripping the jaw with a handsaw, I clamped the jaw and benchtop together so I could crosscut the jaw free from the benchtop without it falling or splintering away from the work.

The resulting surface from this operation is pretty clean, though it is a little in wind (less than 1/16”), which I’ll address after the bench dries a bit more (did I mention the top was at 60 percent moisture content?).


Next up I’ll dress the jaw cautiously so I don’t lose too much thickness. Then I’ll turn the threaded screws and nuts for the vise and line the jaw with adhesive cork.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. I think I’ll scratch my head bald about the end vise. More on that in the coming week.

Posted in Roman Workbenches | 13 Comments

Work Badly Made


“(W)ork badly made is always too expensive.”

— A.-J. Roubo, “l’Art du menuisier”

I’m finishing up the editing on “To Make as Perfectly as Possible: Roubo on Furniture.” On Wednesday it goes back tot he translation team to review our edits. Then to the printer. We are shooting for a November 2016 release of the standard edition. (Details on a deluxe edition to come.)

Posted in To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation, Uncategorized | 3 Comments