For chairmaking and other handwork, a small double-screw vise can be handy. Check out Peter Follansbee’s bench and you’ll see these appliances lurking – or in use in surprising ways. Jennie Alexander uses them for many aspects of constructing her iconic chair.
During the last six months, I’ve been working with Alexander and chairmaker Larry Barrett to completely revise Alexander’s “Make a Chair from a Tree.” I don’t have a timeline as to when the project will be done as Alexander and Barrett are rebuilding the book from the roots up.
One of the small things I’m doing to help the project is prototyping a double-screw vise for the book. While all of us would prefer an all-wood vise with wooden screws, the current sorry crop of hand-powered threadboxes has pushed us into introducing a little metal.
The vise above is not the one that is going to be in the book. It still needs work. But it does work well on the bench.
The jaws are 1-1/2” x 2-1/2” x 20″ oak, with the screws on 10” centers. The 1-3/4” x 1-3/4” x 6” mahogany handles drive 3/4” x 12” Acme-threaded rod. Inside the rear jaw is buried plain steel 3/4” x 5 nuts. The handles push against 3/4” steel washers (though these are likely unnecessary).
The threaded rod is simply epoxied into the handles – about 3-1/2” worth. For the final version I’m going to tap the handles and epoxy the rod in place. Nothing like overkill.
I’m sure there will be more design changes to come.
With this vise in the mail to Alexander, I can return to tapering legs for “The Furniture of Necessity.”
— Christopher Schwarz