September 6, 2011

Cottonwood log with attached vises abd anvil
Photo by Jim Ruen
The way Liz mounted her vises in her jewelry store sparked an idea for creating a workbench in my future woodworking shed.

Last week, I described finding an old, heavy-duty vise for sale in Crown Trout Jewelers, a fine jewelry store in my community. While that was unexpected, its mounting was even more unexpected. Liz Bucheit, the owner, had three of the old vises mounted to a section of cottonwood log that was about 34 inches long and perhaps 30 inches across. Two more vises and a good-sized anvil were mounted to a second log. The logs stood on end, with three sets of lockable caster wheels between each one and the floor.

Liz explained she had mounted them in this manner so she could pull them out into an open space when working or teaching a class, as she does periodically. I could immediately see the benefits. I am a big fan of compact work areas. This fall, I will be installing all my woodworking tools and bench in an 8-by12-foot (former) garden shed. One of my concerns has been how I can work with long pieces of wood or iron rod.  Liz’s logs might be part of the answer.

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I will probably settle for a slightly smaller-diameter log for mounting my two vises and my small anvil. I’ll also have to make a small platform that matches the lip of the doorway for smooth rolling out of the shop. For the log, a nice section of oak is tempting, but would add unnecessary weight. Instead I’ll probably opt for cottonwood, as Liz did.

I think it will work. We’ll see. That’s the great thing about getting an idea. The anticipation and planning are almost as much fun as the doing. Hopefully, the satisfaction of using it will be as great, as well.

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