This was a hum-dinger of a project! It took me 3 weeks to complete, which was about twice as long as I thought it would. In short, I would never recommend you buy a woodriver tail vise. The instructions are terrible, and the design isn’t really that great. I guess for 60 bucks I can’t complain too much. Most of the alternatives are 250+ dollars. I almost think they could be 4 times better if they are easier to install. I digress, let’s put this puppy together!
I pulled the hardware out and read the instructions. They show pictures of hardware for model numbers that are not the model number I bought… oh well, Time to wing it! The black plate will screw to the side of my bench top, and the green plates will slide along that plate. I want to start by making a box structure around the main screw. Two boards against the green plates are a good place to start. One clears the center screw head, but the other needs to be cut down. I could thin it, but why not get fancy! I used my No. 50 to remove the wood that interferes with the round portion of the green fixed nut (I will call it a screw head), and a No. 78 to groove a clearance for the base of the screw head. It looks like a fit. In retrospect, I really should have just thinned it. It would make later steps simpler.
I filled in the groove areas and trimmed them flush at the two ends. This let me put solid wood in between the bolts that hold the two plates together. With the ends covered I will need clearance to get this thing over the screw head for installation. A chisel cleaned out a little section between the hollow and groove I made. Another filler board runs the length to help stiffen and give a give a surface to later bolt the dog hole block to.
Dog Hole Block
I laminated a few large boards together to give me a big block for drilling dog holes. The third and fourth picture show a heavy block at 90 degrees to the screw. I was going to add this L so I could have an extra clamping surface. After doing lots of cutting and chopping I decided to nix it. It didn’t fit well and I was going to have to drill out a lot of the center to allow screw clearance. Besides, I already have a good quick release front vice. I ended up just filling where that block would have gone, and screwed the body box to the dog hole block. That makes it more easily replaceable in the future.
I fashioned a board with grooves and a relief hole to go between the bench top and that black mounting plate. It was easier to make separately, then attach. Sitting the vice on the table top I was able to pencil out the waste area, and started cutting with a circular saw. I finished with a hand saw. The vice is thicker than the table top, so it took a lot of chiseling to clear enough of the table support to let everything move around. After careful fitting the screws went in, and my tail vice was installed.
It wasn’t without injury. I ended up hitting one of the lag bolts that holds together the table base. My biggest chisel took a beating. It made me very sad, and this will take a lot of sharpening to correct. Lesson learned, watch for metal hardware when you work!
An end cap with a hole covers the opening that the screw goes through. I only screwed it in place so it could be removed if needed in the future. I also added a few end caps where the front of the vice meets the table. Boring vertical holes down between the end caps help for holding small round things like screw bits for sharpening. These are also only screwed in place in case I want to replace or modify them.
Lastly there is a big section between the dog hole block and the table that needs covering. It is mostly cosmetic, but having it there helps keep shavings and junk from building up. I took a board and removed a volume where the green top plate will be with a mixture of rabbet planing and chiseling. Once glued in place the vice was fully installed!
Final Surface and Finish
Once installed I cleared all the junk off and grabbed a jack plane. When I first built the top I only had one hand plane, and I didn’t really know how to use it, so I ended up using a belt sander on most of the top. SACRILEGE!! Now, I spent probably less than 20 minutes planing off the old finish, stains, and gouges. I left some plane marks behind, but I never really expect the top to be perfectly smooth. I finished with some boiled linseed oil and left it to dry. Gorgeous!
I reinstalled my front vice on the left side and drilled a few more holes before applying the finish. This is how a table should be setup for right handed people like me. That way when you stand in front and plane from right to left you push against the dog in the table, not the vice. I didn’t know this when I first installed that front vice. Oh well, you live and learn. After a sweep up this never-ending project finally did. What a pile of shavings!