A Hateful Day!

by | Mar 21, 2012 | 3 comments

Hate is a very strong word, but we all have jobs that we hate and today was one of those hateful days full of jobs I hate. To top it of, I arrived at the workshop to find the drains had blocked up … again. One more hated job to add to the list of hated jobs.

I decided to start with the worst job first as that way things could only get better. So notching out for wagon vice it is then. Seriously, I hate doing this more than rodding out drains!
Cutting out the notch for a wagon vice’s dog block is a pretty simple task in laminated tops as you can just laminate it in during the glue up, however since this was more of a slab based top that wasn’t possible. I’ve done this dozens of times yet unlike the hundreds of other processes in building large benches, I haven’t managed to find an easier or more efficient means. I start by clearly marking the notch out on both the top and underside, carrying the marks down the end grain. The fact that the pencil is also the same colour as oak doesn’t help… so instead I use a biro.

I take the coarsest  rip saw that I have and cut to the lines – no life changing method here. This is the main reason that I hate this particular job so much; there’s no room for error. I have one shot to make two perfectly straight and square cuts in some very thick wood or I’ll have a very scruffy, stiff wagon vice.

Once I’d given my arm a bit of a rest I drilled out to release the waste and chopped back to the line with a chisel, again trying to be neat.

Its is important for the walls of the notch to be as smooth as possible as I don’t want any unnecessary friction on the dog block so I smoothed out the saw marks with a scraper.

With that done I suppose I better go find my gloves…

Continue To The Top Glue Up


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About Richard Maguire

About Richard Maguire

As a professional hand tool woodworker, Richard found hand tools to be the far more efficient solution for a one man workshop. Richard runs 'The English Woodworker' as an online resource and video education for those looking for a fuss free approach to building fine furniture by hand. Learn More About Richard & The English Woodworker.


  1. David

    Great to see someone working with hand tools to do this. Do you dimension your timber by hand as well?

    • Richard

      David, the timber for most workbenches is dimensioned on machines as the sections are so large it would be incredibly time consuming not to. When I build furniture though I feel it is more suited to dimensioning the timber by hand especially as a lot of my furniture is built based on Medieval methods and requires me to rive the timber straight from the log – for me it adds a lot to the piece to know that I’ve seen it through every stage. We have some special pieces of furniture coming up later this year so we’ll definately be going in to this subject more. All the best.

  2. Peter Nelly

    That was the sickest thing I’ve seen this week. The skill to make that cut good enough for a vice to ride in…
    I bow to you!

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