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You can take my tail vise, but I'm keeping the dog holes.

Some of you may know Ric Archibald. He once declared himself "The Champ." Then he actually won the Hand Tool Olympics at Woodworking In America in 2017. That was the last WIA, so... long shall he reign. He's also the creator of Unturned Pencils, Hammer Stacking and the guy most likely to win the "Who Drove The Longest Distance" contest at nearly any woodworking event in the U.S.


He has certainly earned the title of "Student Who Drove Farthest" to attend one of my classes. In 2019, he made a solo run from Calgary to my shop in Ozark, MO and did it in less than 48 hours.


When he got here, we had a pretty fun week of workbench making. Other than access to a bigger shop and some big tools, he didn't really need to take a workbench class. But, I like to think that he learned a little bit while he was here. The thing I remember from that week is something he taught me.


We were fitting some tenons to their mortises, and I had clamped one of the rails in the tail vise of my (then) new bench. This is the first thing I had built on this new bench, and I was excited to use the new vise. I was about to take a shaving or two off of one of the tenon cheeks when he asked why I had clamped it that way.


"To hold it still," I replied, just knowing that he was messing with me.


If you know Ric, you know that he's messing with you about 85% of the time.


He came around the bench and pushed up a couple of dogs along the front edge. He then pulled the rail from the vise and wedged it between the two dogs.


"You don't need clamps."



It was the most stupidly-simple thing. Before I had a bench with a fancy tail vise I tried something similar using a bench hook. Things started out just fine but I occasionally use two hands to hold the plane. As soon as I did the part helicoptered off the bench and crashed to the floor. So I went back to using clamps or, later on, my tail vise. Ric's method beat them both for speed and simplicity.


When I'm in a hurry I'll even use the dogs as a very narrow bench hook.



So, if I had to give it up, I could do without a tail vise. But I would definitely keep the row of dog holes along the front edge of my workbench.

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