The Assembly Table has been in great use for the last months. It’s awesome to have a perfectly flat reference surface on which to assemble projects.
However, one problem I’ve had since I replaced the top is the front vice. My old top was 1.5″ thick and the front vice was level with the top. The new torsion box top is thicker (about 4″) and so the top of the vice sits about 2″ below the table top. That makes it near impossible to clamp many things and work from the top. In addition, the vice dog isn’t high enough to be above the table top, rendering it useless.
Also, the back jaw of the vice is just bolted to the top’s cherry edging and therefore it’s proud of the front edge. This is the same as it was on the previous top, but I want to fix that and make it inline with the tabletop’s front edge for clamping longer boards.
So, I took the time to recess the front vice both vertically and horizontally. I needed to raise it about 1.5″ into the torsion box and .5″ back from the front.
I unscrewed the torsion box top from the base and flipped the whole thing over. I then traced where I needed to remove material and measured exactly how much I wanted to remove in both directions. I took off the vice, which is attached with 2 bolts from below and 2 screws into the back jaw.
I started with the the front piece. Using my Lie-Nielsen carcass saw, I cut through the cherry edging, which surrounds the torsion box MDF. The small piece I removed wasn’t attached at all (the screws were on either side), so it popped off no problem. It turns out that it’s thickness was exactly what I needed to remove, so I lucked out there not needing to add or remove any more material from the front edge.
I started using the router to remove material from below, but with 1.5″ to go and a large area, that was going to take awhile. So, I switched over to a drill and forstner bit to remove the bulk of the MDF (skin) and plywood (filler blocks in the torsion box). That went well, and then I could use the router from there to clean up the recess.
I used a flush trim bit and freehanded the first couple of passes to my pencil lines before the bearing got low enough to follow my first passes. One mistake I made at this point was that I went all around the outside first, which meant that as I went lower, I had no support for the router base to get to the middle section. Instead I should have gone front to back, getting to full depth – which would have left material behind the router to support the base. In any case, I was able to chisel out the middle section which wasn’t a big deal.
With material removed, I placed the vice into the hole. I got it as close to 90 degrees to the top as I could. It’s now sitting just below the hardboard top and just about inline with the front cherry edge. I added some leather to the back jaw and a piece of cherry to the front jaw. I’m definitely looking forward to lots of great use with the new position!