I start with a development that may seem trivial, but it definitely isn't for me. I have been a loyal customer of Lee Valley/ Veritas for many years. The one thing that has held me back from purchasing more from them has been shipping, which commonly took a week and a half or even more. This resulted from the warehouse being in Canada and reliance on UPS ground for shipping to the west coast. For a major tool purchase that was tolerable, but for many purchases of hardware and supplies or for something that I needed for a project I was in the middle of, I just couldn't wait that long, so I would purchase elsewhere.
Imagine my surprise when a recent order arrived in only three days. Doing some research online, I learned that Lee Valley has established a distribution center near Reno, Nevada, so now those of us on the Left Coast can get items from them in a reasonable time. This is really great news.
Next, Joel from Tools for Working Wood has an interesting series of posts on his blog about things he is doing differently in his woodworking. The latest is about his use of a Moxon vise. He writes that,
by raising the overall height of where I saw I can see better, bend over less, and the whole process feels so much less jury-rigged. I am sawing better and more accurately - partially at least because I can see what I am doing...
I was thinking the same thing this week because I was sawing some tenons using my bench vise and it wasn't going well at all. I was stooped over in an uncomfortable position and couldn't see well. Try as I might, I couldn't get my sawing motion right. Finally, I put my Moxon vise on the bench and things immediately improved. For many of us who are older, a vise at bench height just doesn't work well for sawing joinery. I have a Veritas twin screw vise on the end of my bench and it works well for some things, but sawing joinery definitely isn't one of them. If I could only keep one, it would definitely be the Moxon. It really is a game changer for me. I am one of those weird ones that could easily do without a bench vise. If you don't have one, as I didn't for awhile, you find other ways of workholding that are often better.
I built three Moxon vises in succession over the years. The first used pipe clamps, the second bar clamps and the third and fanciest one used acme threaded rods. Funny thing is, I like the bar clamp one best by far.
I like the handles being in the back out of the way and I like the "quick release" feature. You can clamp any sized workpiece very quickly, even if you need to skew the jaw. I added that piece of walnut on the front so I wouldn't strike the clamp with a saw. It also turns out that the heavy duty bars fit snugly into slots do a great job of eliminating most racking, which is a problem with my other two versions. This is the one I use while the other two stay on the shelf.
A Nicholson workbench, a pair of Krenov sawhorses and a Moxon vise will be in my shop for as long as I do woodworking.