Veritas Inset Vise Review

Bench before inset vise installation

I recently finished a new workbench with a face vise on the left and Veritas Inset Vise off on the right.  Most of my bench work is on the medium-to-small size and I wanted a means to secure those pieces to the bench top without clamps.  Most operations will be things like holding the work for assembly or sanding.  I don’t do a lot of hand-planing but when I do I use the face vise.

Benchcrafted’s wagon vise looks pretty sweet but it’s also at least $300.  Making one from scratch is an option but I’d still have to spend some money on the hardware not to mention the extra time on making the darn thing.

Vise installed

So I went with the Veritas option because it wasn’t horribly expensive and the installation looked pretty easy; just rout out a channel for it.  Installation was simple, I used my plunge router with a guide fence to make two parallel grooves forming the edges of the channel and then hogged out the middle.  I screwed up the routing process, cutting out the a 3″ wide channel the full depth leaving hollows underneath the two wings.  Oops.  But this wasn’t a huge deal I just made two spacer pieces to fill that void back, in gluing them in place.

The four 3/4″ dogs

I located the edge of the vise about 2″ from the edge of the bench in order to give more support to either side of the clamped piece.  As you can see I went with round 3/4″ dogs, starting them about 1.5″ from the end of the vise and spacing them every 7″.  The vise allows a spacing of 7-3/4″.  I made mine as Paul Sellers shows in this video.



So that is where my vise lives, but how well does it work?  I’d say pretty darn well.  My first test was a piece of plywood clamped up between the vise and one of my dogs.  Yanking on it I moved my entire bench before it budged at all.  So it is not lacking at all in the power department, it would easily snap off one of my oak dogs if I really torqued on it.  The work is very resistant to rocking motion too, but for extra stability there one could install parallel bench dogs for an ultra-sturdy triangular holding pattern.  As I said earlier I’ll be using those for mostly light-duty things so I don’t need to get that fancy.

The little toggle handle is kind of cheesy but it’s necessary for the vise top to be 100% flush.  While a wheel would be easier to use it’s really not so hard to quickly spin it around with your finger.. just not as intuitive.

My only real complaint was with the optional 1/4″ jaw that I ordered along with the vise.  Its locating pegs were a bit too close together, preventing the jaw from fully seating into the vise.  To remedy this I had to file away some material on their inside faces.

So overall I’m very happy with this vise.  It works very well and due to its simple installation it can retrofitted into existing benches.  After spending a few weekends building this workbench I was very glad to be able to install the vise in one evening!



Veritas Canvas Apron Review

I’ve had the Lee Valley / Canvas Apron for a month and have been pretty happy with it so far so I thought I’d share my thoughts on it.

To test the concept of using a shop apron I had been using a cheapo model from Menard’s but I really disliked the neck loop.  However I did really enjoy keeping things close to hand and up high as opposed to using cargo short pockets; dust collector remote, pencils, ear plugs, etc.

The Lee Valley apron gets 4/5 stars from me.  The construction quality is very good and the pockets are well thought-out, especially the large side pockets.  My only gripe with the apron is the extra webbing that sticks out from the shoulder straps; when I reach back to manipulate the main buckle I often wind up grabbing a stray strap or one of the adjustment buckle.  I need to pin back the excess strapping to keep the back clear as you see in Lee Valley’s product images.

But overall the apron is very comfortable and useful and is worth $40.

Telescoping Lathe Dust Collection Arm

There’s one advantage to a fixed head lathe; the source of dust and chips is always in the same spot!  Given a dust hood that can cover 10″ you’re set for most projects.  Given a sliding headstock lathe and now your dust collection needs to be a lot more flexible, it will have to travel a few feet in either direction.

When I first got my new lathe I made a dust arm that mounted to the lathe body but I didn’t like it because it was always in the way of the banjo.  The next version is a telescoping arm that mounts to the wall via a French Cleat.  So far it’s worked really well, here are some photos.

It’s a pretty simple design.  The arm is sandwiched between two boards, pinned with a 1/4″ carriage bolt and plastic knob.  Notice how the cleat is quite long, this was done to accommodate the side-to-side wobbliness of the collector as it’s moved.  An earlier version had a narrow cleat (~5″) and it would tend to tip out.  The extra boards on either end also help it stay put.  The surround is four pieces of wood glued up to form a rectangular tube.  A piece of 1/4″ plywood glued on top provides a mounting point for the plastic hood.

The arm is about 10″ long while the surround is about 9″ long.  I found that the surround only needs to have about 1/3 of the arm inserted into it in order to provide a stable connection so I cut the arm back such that at maximum extension the surround has this much engagement.

Careful sizing of the parts help it slide smoothly as does a good coating of paste wax on the arm.

The plastic dust hood is  the magnetic jobber sold by many vendors.

Repeatable Taper Rip Cuts with a Sliding Table Saw

Over the year that I’ve owned my sliding table saw I’ve really come to appreciate the convenience and safety of having a built-in crosscutting & ripping sled.

I just finished a set of tapered legs which on a normal cabinet saw one would use a taper jig to cut.  In this post I’ll show how I accomplished the same thing with my sliding table and two hold-down clamps.

Finished product first.  Four legs that started as 2″ squares.  The taper starts below the mortises (about 4.25″ from the top) and ends a half-inch from the bottom edge leaving a 1″ square foot on the bottom.

Finished legs

These photos show the uncut leg with the taper penciled in.

This photo shows how the legs will be positioned on the sliding table.  The cut starts at the foot and will end a little short of the mortise.  The leg is pushed by the miter fence while its taper angle is set by the fence’s flip-stop.  An important note here: I am indexing the cuts from the waste side not the good side.  This always gives me a square surface to set up on.  If I indexed off of the good side I’d have to deal with trying to index off of a taper which would involve making shim blocks.  Nuts to that.

Position on slider


Setting up on the slider required establishing two indexing points.

  • One for the foot set 1/2″ inch from the blade.  This is the easy one I just used the fence.
  • A second one to establish where the cut will stop near the mortises, 4.25″ inches from the top.

The second indexing point was harder to set up because that point is out in space.  I needed to move the flip-stop to “aim” the cut at the desired point below the mortises.  I gave myself a target to aim at by clamping a stick to the table at that location and then cutting it off:

Now with the stick in place I could move the flip-stop around to get the stick flush with the place I wanted the taper cut to end.

Flushing up the cut marker stick with the desired taper end

After confirming that the setup worked fine on my test piece I cut all the tapers.  Two Kreg hold down clamps did a fine job of keeping the work in place and my hands away from the blade.  A Diablo ripping blade left a very nice surface which only left behind very faint tool marks; a few scrapes and the surface was ready for 220.


Dubuque Bar Clamps vs. Harbor Freight Bar Clamps

I needed two more 48″ clamps on my current project and because it’s just a simple carcass I thought I’d give Harbor Freight’s a try.  I already have some Dubuque clamps so I’m able to compare the two.

Sidewall Thickness Comparison

As you can guess, the Harbor Freight clamps are a lot shittier, just look at the sidewall thicknesses above.  On the HF clamps the whole assembly twists while you’re putting them in place and none of the other components are as well-made.

However for the purposes of this particular project they work just fine.  Once you have them lined up and tightened they can hold a cabinet together just as well as much nicer clamp.  And their light weight makes them really easy to maneuver into place unlike my heavy 48″ Jorgensen Cabinet Masters.

So while I don’t think I’ll buy any more of these they can service lightweight assembly jobs just fine.

Tormek SVD-186 Gouge Jig Review and Comparison to the 185

I just got Tormek’s SVD-186, the newest version of their gouge jig.  Having both the SVD-185 and 186 on hand I was able to compare them and weigh in on if it’s worth the $100 upgrade.

Some highlights:

  • The wider body would nice if you have really wide gouges but unless you’re doing hand-carving with bowl gouges this probably isn’t an issue
  • The fixed clamping bar is appreciated, no more having to hold the spinny brass one in place with your thumb.
  • Shame on Tormek for not using detents on the 185!  They make switching jig settings as easy as you would expect
  • The casting metal is different, it has a textured surface and is heavier.  The new jig weighs 12oz as opposed to the 185’s 7oz weight.

Here’s a video review where you can the two jigs.

But in the end if you already own a 185 I don’t think it’s worth the cost to upgrade.  The 186 is certainly easier to use but $100 could likely be put towards more useful shop upgrades.

4-in-1 CBN Wheel Review

I recently upgraded the wheels on my Rikon slow-speed grinder to a pair of Woodturnerswonders 4-in-1 CBN wheels.  Half of the reason for the purchase was curiosity and the other half was frustration at my Tormek’s constantly glazed-over wheels.

I got a pair of 80/220 wheels and am really happy with them.  They grind cool, leave a great edge, and best of all don’t need any maintenance.

Example 220 grit grind
Example 220 grit grind

Here’s a short video review on the wheels where I talk more in-depth about those positives as well as how I got them trued up to within 1/1000″ side-to-side runout.

Midi Lathe Stand inspired by Alan Lacer Design

A few months ago I made a new stand for my Jet 1221VS based on Alan Lacer’s article in Popular Woodworking.  I liked the design because it had a small footprint, space for sand weight, and solid construction principles like doubled-up plywood and canted legs.  It’s worked out really well for me.  It’s very solid delivering a stable work platform without a lot of bulk.

Some quick facts about it:

  • 29 ½” high
  • The top is 13″ x 38″ and is made from three layers of ¾” MDF

Here she is:

As you can see I didn’t deviate much from the design in the article, but some key points are:

  • I used cross-dowel nuts (13-CD040 from Woodpeckers) instead of copper pipe.  They worked very well.
  • MDF for the top because I had some left over from my old bench
  • Dimensional pine lumber for the cross-members
  • The tool shelf was secured with bolts / cross-dowel nuts instead of wood screws into end grain
  • I added a tailstock caddy
  • The tool shelf is made from pine lumber (two pieces jointed together)

My bench is shorter than the one in the article in order to accommodate the spindle height of my lathe and my elbow height.  This unfortunately squished the shelves closer together which compromised the opening above the tool shelf and also limited me to two sand bags.  I didn’t want the sand shelf to be too close to the floor such that it would hinder cleanup.

So if you are on the hunt for lathe bench designs this is a good one to consider.  I will say that it does require some degree of skill and accuracy to build.  Your 5° angles all need to match one another.  The bolt and cross-dowel holes are tricky to get aligned just right; The cross-member with ugliest dowel holes went to the back on my stand!  If you are using lumber in the build you will need it to be S4S.

JDP-17 Review

I recently upgraded my drill press to Jet’s JPD-17 model and am pretty happy with it so far.  I wanted something with at least 5″ of quill travel and a laser guide and this one fit those specs and my budget.  The woodworking-oriented table is a plus, too.

My drill press works exactly as it ought to.  It was simple to assemble and everything fits together as intended.  The foot is adequately sized and it feels safe free-standing although I do plan on bolting it to the floor at some point.  Operation is smooth and quiet.  The depth stop works well not feeling at all “mushy”.  There is a distinct clunk when you hit bottom.  My only (minor) complaint is that there is a bit of paint overspray on the top surface of the table.

Out of the box the table is pretty darn close to square with the quill in both axes.  One of the lasers was just a tiny bit off, I don’t think that I really needed to adjust it but I did it for fun.

Dave’s Workshop on YouTube did a great overview video of the tool:

About the only interesting fact I can add to the discussion  are some details around the T-slots on the table.  The manual states that they are 1/2″ wide by 5/8″ deep.  This is pretty close to accurate, here are the measured dimensions.

T-slot dimensions


For your fences and other jigs, note that a 5/16″ hex-head bolt fits nicely and won’t turn while a 1/4″ bolt will turn within the slot.  I don’t have any t-slot bolts to try out.

5/16″ hex nut in place

Bowl Turning Tips

While roughing out a bowl I recorded two short videos.  In the first I try to provide some detail into how to do bowl hollowing cuts, and specifically the entry thereof.  When I started this hobby I had a really hard time figuring out the best way to do it despite watching lots of videos and reading books.

In this video I show a marking jig for a set of chuck jaws.  It lets me draw a circle for either the recess or a tenon.