With construction of the Moxon complete, the final stage was to apply a finish. I always enjoy projects which introduce me to new techniques or materials, and building the Moxon vise introduced two new finishes – Danish Oil for the oak, and liquid gun bluing for the metal hardware.
I ragged on three coats of Liberon Superior Danish Oil to every surface of the oak, save for the inside faces of the jaws. The Benchcrafted kit comes with enough suede to line one of the jaws (assuming that like me you build a vise with 24” between the screws). Ultimately I intend to line both jaws with suede, just as soon as I can locate a supplier of quality suede large enough for the rear jaw. And so prior to applying the first coat of Danish oil I covered all four edges of both jaw faces with blue painter’s tape to guard against any oil build up, as this would prevent the suede from successfully adhering to the oak jaws. I left each coat of Danish oil for a minimum of 6 hours, before briskly rubbing down with 0000 grade steel wool and wiping clean with a spritz of white spirit. Three coats gave a good build-up of Danish Oil, and really brought out the figure of the oak, especially the medullary rays on the top edge of the jaws.Finishing the hand wheels and nuts was an entirely new experience. I followed the very useful video on the Benchcrafted blog to apply a single coat of Birchwood Casey Super Blue (which by happy coincidence Chris Schwarz also wrote about on his Popular Woodworking blog a couple of days after I had tried out the gun smith’s brand of chemical warfare). Essentially, after cleaning the hardware with denatured alcohol, I liberally brushed on the bluing and put to one side for a couple of minutes. A quick wash in clean water, followed by buffing with 0000 grade steel wool and a final clean with white spirit and I was done. The bluing has darkened the metal a little (although I think the sand cast finish of the Moxon handwheels makes the effect less noticeable than the machined Glide handwheel shown in the Benchcrafted video) and will protect from the horrors of rust for years to come. The bluing was straight forward, although the dash to peel off the slowly dissolving tips off my nitrile gloves added some unexpected excitement (memo to self: invest in better quality safety kit when playing with chemistry). And who would have thought that an Early-Modern text would introduce me to modern gunsmithing finishes! All that remains now is to press the Moxon into use, and I fully anticipate that it will be as useful for fine detail lutherie work (particularly shaping guitar headstocks at a comfortable height) as it will for the standard dovetailing duty.