FAQ- Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What is a "Garter" and "Garter Groove"? What does it do? Answer.
  • Should I use an Internal or an External Garter? Answer.
  • How should I finish my Wood Vise? Answer.
  • Do you ship to countries outside of the continental United States? Answer.
  • Why do you make your vise screws and nut stock out of Hard Maple? Answer.
  • Is the Vise Screw One Piece? or do I have to do anything special to it? Answer.
  • I am a wood turner would like to shape and finish the hub myself on my wood lathe. Is that possible? Answer.
  • I would like the vise screw made of a particular type of wood (for example: white oak) - is that possible? Answer.
  • I have a family heirloom workbench, and the vise screw threads and nut are worn out. Can you make an exact replica? Answer.
  • I have accidentally gotten my vise screw dirty before applying polyurethane finish to it. Is there anything that I can do to clean it up? Answer.
  • I have accidentally damaged a portion of the vise screw threads. Will this cause the vise screw to break? Answer.

 


 

What is a "Garter" and "Garter Groove"?  What does it do?

  • A garter simply engages the "chop" or front jaw of the vise with the screw -so that it makes the jaw travel outward with the screw when opening the vise (the hub of the vise screw moves the jaw inward, and applies the clamping load - not the garter).
  • A "Garter Groove"  is the circular groove on the vise screw that engages the garter to the screw.
  • However, you must limit the racking of the vise jaw when a garter is used - or you can break the vise screw (this is the same on metal vises as well) or possibly the garter.
  • I have standardized on using at 3/8" garter on all screws.
  • I locate the garter groove to engage the approximate middle of a 2 inch thick vise chop (or jaw).
  • I standardize the Outer Diameter of the Garter Groove area - so that the workbench builder can drill a 2-1/4" hole (a common Forstner bit size) in their 3/8" thick garter material - cut it in half at the center of the hole - and you have a garter!
  • Note: All the Big Wood Vise screws have two (2) Garter Grooves.  This is to give flexibility to the workbench builder.  The workbench builder can choose to make either an external or internal garter.
  • I always recommend that you make the garter easily removable - i.e. don't glue it in place - so that you don't damage the chop (vise "Jaw") if you need to service or want to change or refurbish or re-construct your vise components in a new vise.
  • You will note that in the gallery - Kai A. actually made his Garter engage outside the Chop as an External Garter.

 

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Should I use an Internal or an External Garter?

  • A garter is itself a non-moving piece that engages the chop (or "Vise Jaw") of the vise with the rotating screw - and pulls the vise chop out as the screw travels.  Note:  the hub of the screw actually pushes the vise chop inward, and applies the clamping load - not the garter.  You don't necessarily have to use a garter - bu then the vise chop will have to be moved by hand. 
  • Garter's are of two basic types - External and Internal.
  • An example of an External Garter is shown on my website with Jameel A's workbench.  It consists of two (2) half circular rings (a lot like a washer cut in half)  that engage into the hub machined garter.  The flange of the circular rings are then secured to the front chop surface.
  • An Internal Garter requires that a mortise be made in the chop that intersects with the garter groove on the vise screw.  Then a garter (or Key) is inserted into the chop- and intersecting with the garter groove on the vise screw. 
  • I always advise making all  garters removable (i.e. don't glue it in place, or permanently mount it)- so that the vise chop and screw can be taken apart for maintenance, or should you decide that you want to re-use the screw in another type of vise.
  •  
  • Note:  Many twin-screw (or "Dunbar") vises do not use any garter.  This is done intentionally - so that angular pieces can be clamped in the vise without imposing large racking loads that could break the wood vise screws.  Ths also means that the front chop must be adjusted by hand.
  • Published Examples - "The Workbench Book" By Scott Landis
  • p24 - Roubo Bench Exploded drawing (unlabeled Triangular piece to the right of the chop ).
  • p28 - Tarule's leg vise
  • p36 - Shaker Workbench - utilizing a "Double Garter "
  • p42 - Tail Vise illustration - utilizing a "Semi-circular" garter.
  • p127 - Wooden Face Vise by Ray Creager
  • Note:  Big Wood Vise garter grooves are 3/8" ( 0.375 inch - 9.53 mm) wide - so that the garter can be easily manufactured by drilling a 2.25 inch (2.25 inch - approx 57.2mm) diameter hole in a 3/8 inch thick garter material)
  • Note: All Big Wood Vise vise screws have two (2) Garter Grooves.  This is to give flexibility to the workbench builder.  The workbench builder can choose to make either an external or internal garter, and do not have to worry about communicating a special order.

 

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How should I finish my Wood Vise?

  • Your wood vise components will arrive smoothly sanded - and ready for you to finish it as you would like.
  • Handle the bare wood with care - so that you do not get dirt or oils from your hands into the grain.   (always wash your hands before handling a piece of wood that is to be finished).
  • Your Big Wood Vise screw will arrive with the critical parts wrapped in plastic stretch wrap to protect it from dirt.
  • If you care to, you can do additional sanding on the hub region - but take great care - sand along the grain, with sandpaper cupped in your hand.  Do this in strong light- taking care that you do not add scratches.  You can start with 220 grit (I finish my sanding at 220, and burnish the surface with a handful of wood dust.   Most people will find the finish of the hub to their liking right out of the box.  Do not sand the threaded region.
  • I highly recommend that you apply a durable finish of your choice (I prefer polyurethane), polishing with 0000 steel wool or 1200 grit sandpaper between coats.
  • If you want to stain the wood - do so before applying the polyurethane.
  • Definitely, after applying a durable finish - apply a couple of coats of bee's wax or a light coat of Johnson's Paste Furniture wax to the hub and screw regions - this will keep the threaded portion moving smoothly - as well as keep things like glue and other stuff from sticking to either screw portion or hub portion.

 

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Do you ship to countries outside of the continental United States?

  • Yes, I do.
  • There will be additional charges for the international shipping.
  • Either contact me through the contact form or place your order via the PayPal system to secure your place in the queue. 
  • I will contact you regarding the correct additional amount to cover the postage - and give you instructions on how to send the additional shipping funds.
  • I always use USPS (United States Postal System - not "UPS") Priority Mail.

 

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Is the Vise Screw One Piece?  or do I have to do anything special to it?

  • The vise screw is made of One Solid Piece of specially selected hardwood.  
  • There is no gluing or pegging of the vise screw.  
  • The threaded nut stock is also made of one solid piece of Hard Maple - approx. 2.75 in. Thick x 3.5 in High x 8 in. long
  • The construction is very solid - and simplifies your workbench building process.

 

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I am a wood turner, and would like to shape and finish the hub myself on my wood lathe.  Is that possible?

  • Certainly!  
  • At your request - I will leave turning stubs on your wood vise screw, so that you can mount it between centers on your wood lathe, and turn and finish your wood vise screw yourself ( at no extra charge - what a deal! ).  
  • You will need a wood lathe with at least 30" (76 cm) between centers, and 6" (15 cm) or more swing.  
  • Obviously I cannot be responsible for damage you may do to the vise screw.

 

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I would like the vise screw made of a particular type of wood (for example: white oak) - is that possible?

  • I have to special order the large wood blanks for making the vise screws.
  • There is considerable lead-time in ordering, air-drying, and finally Kiln-Drying the wood required to make a quality wood vise screw.
  • Therefore, I can only offer wood that I have previously ordered, and prepared for making into my vise screws.

 

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Why do you make your vise screws and nut stock out of Hard Maple?

  • At the present time - I am only offering the Vise Screw in Hard Maple.  Which is fortunate - as it is a good material to make vise screws.
  • If you have a non-checked, non-cracked 4"x4" billet of a specialty wood that you would like your wood vise screw made of  - you can arrange to have it sent to me and made into your vise components.  I cannot take responsibility for how the vise components turn out - but I will do my best to make a useable wood vise component for you.  Please discuss this with me in advance- so that we can best determine if this project is likely to be successful or not.

 

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I have a family heirloom workbench, and the vise screw threads and nut are worn out.  Can you make an exact replica?

  • Unfortunately not.
  • Most antique workbenches did not adhere to any standard thread pitch or thread form.  The cutters and pitch were all dependent on the equipment that the manufacturer had put together (as it is with the equipment that I have put together.)
  • Therefore, the best advice I can give you (aside from photographing the bench and the vise mechanisms and sending them to me for use in the gallery - I'll start an Antique Workbench section), is to purchase a new vise screw kit and to splice it or bolt it in place.  
  • If you are a wood turner - you may want to request that I leave the hub rough formed and with stub tenons - then you can re-mount this on your wood lathe and replicate the vise hub form that you prefer.

 

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I have accidentally gotten my vise screw dirty before applying polyurethane finish to it.  Is there anything that I can do to clean it up?

  • The best thing to do is to clean it with some acetone. 
  • Always Follow the manufacturer's safety warnings
  • Wear rubber gloves in a well ventilated area - preferrably outside.  
  • Use a clean white cotton towel (old discarded undershirts work great) and rub with the direction of the grain. 
  • If the grain becomes raised (unlikely) - lightly sand with 220 grit sand paper - by hand only - in the direction of the grain (DO NOT sand in a circular motion - you will scratch the vise screw hub).

 

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I have accidentally damaged a portion of the vise screw threads.  Will this cause the vise screw to break?

  • Actually - depending on how badly damaged the vise screw has become - you may be in fine shape.
  • I would continue using the vise until it breaks (it may never break)
  • Chippage of the threads is a common thing that happens with wood vise screws - (look at any antique vise - there will be some degree of thread chippage). 
  • Chippage will not affect the strength of the vise screw or clamping either - unless it is extreme.  The nut stock is 2-3/4" thick - with more than enough thread engagement for even a large amount of thread chippage.
  • I would recommend that you keep using it.
  • I also sell replacement screws for my kits - you can find them on the "Extra's" page.

 

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