When I was designing (i.e. ripping off the plans from a deceased German tool merchant) my Holtzapffel Workbench, my intention was to have the screws of the face vise in perfect alignment with the holdfast hole in the bench’s right leg.
My plan was thus: I could put a huge George Nakashima-style plank in the twin-screw vise and it would come to rest on the shaft of a holdfast stuck in the right leg.
I bet Charles Holtzapffel wished he’d thought of that, I muttered as I drafted this up.
Months passed; I built the bench. And I really mucked that detail up. As built, the holdfast hole in the right leg isn’t lined up with the top edge of the vise screws. Far from it. That hole is about 2” from being in the same plane.
When I first realized the error, I beat myself up pretty badly (no bag of oranges was harmed during the self-flagellation). But before I started going all “prairie dog” on the bench and drilling holes everywhere, I decided to take my own bitter advice: Try it before you burn it.
Here is the huge surprise about twin-screw vises (you ready?). They are monsters, with almost unlimited clamping power. Several months ago, as we were preparing to film a short video about the bench, I bragged that I could clamp an 8’-long board on edge in the twin-screw vise and plane its edge and it would be rock solid.
Eyebrows were raised. Uncomfortable coughs were emitted. Senior Editor Bob Lang, I think, pantomimed that I had been drinking alcohol.
So I went to the wood rack to get me a 1 x 12 x 8’ hunk of something. We didn’t have any 8-footers. The only 1 x 12 stock we had was 10’ long. Yikes. Suddenly I wished I’d had been drinking in order to increase my courage/foolhardiness. A 10’-long board is 4’ longer than the bench itself.
But you know what? The twin-screw vise held it without complaint. So the support in the right leg isn’t really needed. But if you do want to modify your plans to match my original plans, shift all the dog holes in the right leg up 2”. That will do the trick.
Photo credit: Katy, my 6-year-old daughter, took these photos today while I was working on a cursed Chinese plywood bookcase. As you can clearly see from this photo, I still don’t have a butt.
— Christopher Schwarz