Don’t screw yourself!
Those who have followed this blog, for any time at all, know that I went through a “phase” during which I was obsessed by the notion of making my own large wooden vise screws. And I succeeded. But I spent an awful lot of time that I could have spent building furniture. However, the learning experience was well worth it. What did I find out? Well, it’s awfully easy to make the screw. Let me say that again, it’s awfully easy to make the screw. You can lay it out, cut the roots in with a backsaw and finish it up with chisels and files. You can set up a lead screw as I did (detailed earlier in this blog). These are time consuming but easy. The Nut, however, is something entirely different. I’m not going to dwell on it. Just trust me, the nut is the part that will test your patience and eat up your time. Ultimately, if you’re going to make just one big screw, a very effective nut can be manufactured by carving it from two “halves”. Maybe, at some time in the future, we’ll explore this. But not now. For now, call (or email) Nick Dombrowski at Lake Erie Toolworks. He makes beautiful wooden screws and nuts. The quality is excellent and the price is more than fair. I simply haven’t seen any other commercially available wooden screws that are better (or even close, for that matter). And if you are absolutely insistent about making your own screw, I believe Nick will sell you a nut. But remember, you’ve got to use his diameter and pitch.
I bumped into Nick and Jeff Dombrowski at the WIA show in Cinncinnati. We had a great conversation about making screws. I thanked them both for helping me see the light when I accepted the fact that there were still a few things that specialists could do better than I could. After patching together my fractured ego, I noticed that the guys had brought with them the sweetest little workbench that I had seen in a long time. At least that’s what I thought it was.
Turns out that this bench was built as an example of how wooden bench screws can be used in a shoulder, waggoner’s or leg vise configurations (and others). But it soon became evident that the simple insertion of a “top” on the right hand side would make this an incredibly effective workbench for the afficinado who is bound up in an appartment or other small shop. The guys mentioned that they were toying with the idea of offering it as a kit. Time will tell….
In a world full of interesting workbench designs, the “Dombrowski” might join the likes of the Nicholson and the Roubo.