Saturday 8 October 2016

Ulmia Work Bench

A few weeks ago I was looking at vices to make another work bench. As the three benches I already have, included a Bench Crafted leg vice and two benches with shoulder vices, I wondered if there was a traditional face vice that was worth using. The Ulmia face vice in the Dictum catalogue made some very bold claims about not wracking wherever wood was clamped. Although this vice is sold separately I decided just to buy one of their benches rather than make my own. At just under £1,000 (+ vat) delivered from Germany it seemed very good value.

Three weeks after ordering it arrived, assembly was easy and the base was rock solid despite only having the two stretchers.

The vice did indeed clamp solidly without wracking on both outer sides. The single guide bar passes through a long very tight fitting bushing and I guess this is why the vice doesn't rack. In the excellent instructions there is also the facility to adjust the vice if wracking occurs with wear and use. One of the other things that attracted me was the 5 1/4"gap between the screw and the guide bar, clear down to the floor. This meant a lot of vertical clamping for dovetailing could be done without putting any strain on the vice.

Although I don't normally use a tail vice this bench came with a very nice one. There is zero play and it stayed level through its full extension.  As with the front vice it can be adjusted for wear. The bench comes with four massive aluminium dogs which are 30 mm diameter, not much good for use with other accessories, but will certainly do the job! The whole bench gave the impression of being massive, not in size, but in construction. This small 5' bench weighs in at 100kg (220 lbs). They also make a 2 m long version (6' 6") which is only another £115 and is no doubt more popular but I just didn't have the room.

Ulmia have always had a very good reputation and it's great to see they keeping up their standards.

I was a little surprised to see the top was constructed from shorter lengths of beech instead of full length staves but it is beautifully made and came dead flat with a nice surface finish.
Time will tell how this bench performs but I suspect it will be a pleasure to use.

1 comment:

  1. The short lengths of beech are of mixed grain, both flat and quarter sawn on the bench that I bought new a year ago. This resulted in a mild washboard feel that had to be flattened. This is normal for this type of construction though. Most benches have to be re-flattened periodically . The front vice is very strong and resists racking.