Getting ready for WIA

The end of Summer always means it is time to gear up for WIA and the upcoming holidays.  WIA is short for Woodworking in America and is one of the premiere woodworking shows in the United States for the hand tool enthusiast. This year it is September 16-18 at the Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky Convention Center.


Much has been written about the show so all I am going to say is, if at all possible, Go! Please stop by the Blue Spruce Toolworks booth and say hi.  We will have all of our new tools on display and many demo tools to try out. I have not confirmed what inventory and/or specials I will be bringing yet. I typically travel with two 50 lb suitcases and a carry-on bag so I will bring all that I can! This year I built a lightweight travel size joiners bench that you are welcome to try out. It is primarily designed to enable small scale joinery in a minimalist setting. I posted some pictures on Instagram and I received several requests for plans. It is a pretty cool little bench that can be easily modified and adapted to your needs so I thought I would publish some pictures and sketches for your consideration.

joiners vise assembly

The purpose of the bench is to enable simple joinery tasks such as cutting boards to length, planing against a stop, jointing and squaring edges, holding boards for sawing dovetails and chopping. It obviously is designed for small scale work.

The bench is made entirely from 1/2″ baltic birch for its high strength to weight ratio and better moisture stability.  I made use of many holes and cut-outs that have no purpose other than to reduce weight. They add a lot of un-needed complexity if you do not need the lighter weight. Joinery, if you can call it that, is glue and pin nails.

The vise screws are made from 5/8-11 threaded Nylon rod because it is lightweight.  You can certainly use steel or other material for the screws.  The handles are some I had on hand and are made from mesquite. The screw section is about 6 inches long and about two inches goes into the handle and is glued. I used a lathe to turn down a handle tenon to about 1/2″ diameter because that was the size of the hole in my handle.  1/2″ threaded rod could also be used in place of the 5/8 and be plenty strong enough.  I doubled up on the vise jaw thickness to add a little more stiffness.

Below are some basic dimensions I used. There is no magic here, use whatever dimensions you want.  I made the front, back, top and bottom all the same width (6 inches) so I could use one table saw setting and speed up the process and minimize errors. I also cut the shooting board and fence rabbets after everything was assembled. This ensured everything was square and simplified the assembly process.


joiners vise drawing2

The vise screw nuts are recessed into pockets in the front plate about 1/4″ deep and glued with epoxy. The pockets were made by scribing around the nut with a marking knife and using a chisel to mortise down to the proper depth. The picture shows an optional piece of PVC pipe that covered over the lead screws. It is unnecessary. 20160830_125948Following are some pictures for details and with the vise in use:

20160830_130122 I covered the face with a very thin piece of split leather


This is the back view and shows the shooting board rebate and fence


Top view

20160830_132428 The shooting board was sized to use with my Lie-Nielsen block plane.


Vise at work


Needing to practice before WIA!


I hope that some of these pictures or ideas will inspire you to make your own joiners bench. I am looking forward to using mine and seeing what improvements or changes might be needed.






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  1. Looks great. Would be a pity to chop dovetails on the shooting board though, does it come off, or maybe you could just clamp a bit of scrap on first?

  2. John Paver

    Looks neat! But, take a very close look at the drawing of the top. Pure three dimensional…. Also, shoulda used some slabs of clear Blue Sitka Spruce with your logo and auctioned it off or offered some for later delivery after the show!



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