Surfacing your bench and truing your vices is one of those regular tasks that cabinet makers give themselves. We do it either at the end of a big job, or like I’ve done when we move in to a new workspace. My own bench is nowhere near as good as the benches made by my students. I made it thirty five years ago and its a bit wobbly. It serves it’s job in the workshop and people on one week courses and quite happily use it.
But, I have another bench. I did not make it a former student made it. A chap called Elliot Guy who very unfortunately was killed soon after he finished a course with us made my bench. His story is one of a tragedy. Having finished his course he went up to London to be present at a party. He was a tall gentle coloured guy and some little s.h.i.t is reputed to have said “I’m going to kill the biggest guy in the room!” That was Elliott. So, when he next went to the toilets, this little toad goes and follows him. He stabs him in the neck. Soon after he died in the road from loss of blood outside the party. I don’t think anyone was convicted for this nasty vicious crime. Nevertheless, I will always remember Elliott as I’ve got his bench.
Truing the surface to be dead flat is something you do with a bright light and a straight edge. I used a short Japanese Plane, but I know Daren uses a number 6 bench plane. He works diagonally across the surface of the bench and then goes down it in long horizontal strokes. I’m content at the moment just to get the area around my tail vice relatively flat. And the tail vice itself coming together cleanly fitted with leather surfaces to avoid damaging the job. See the image to get the idea of what is going on anyway. Closing vice surfaces need to do their job very accurately or they damage the work.
One thing I have worked out is that Elliot didn’t make his tail vice strongly enough. It’s O K, but I will have to take it apart and do some work on it if I am going to put any pressure on it. It’s always the same something else crops up that needs doing before you can get down to work.
But its nice work done in preparation for what we have to do. Make stuff.