Sand bags are usually called upon in times of life-and-death seriousness; like for parapets and levees. I have one in my shop that serves a less intense purpose. The last few evenings, I have been carving and refining a walnut goose-inspired bowl that I roughed out a few weeks ago. Especially when I am working with forms such as this, I find that a sandbag and a vise come in handy.
I suppose there are lots of ways to make a sandbag. There might even be something commercially available. My focus was to make sure it wouldn’t leak sand, which would be bad for the piece and the tool edges.
I re-used a heavy plastic bag of some kind that was used in a package I received (if I recall). I filled it with sand — leaving room for some give — and sealed it up tight with tape. I put it into a bag (like a pillow case) I had stitched up from some suede leather, then stitched up the open end of the leather pouch.
It’s weight and ability to conform make it pretty versatile. In the top picture, I am using it under the piece for support.
My vise is just a small, but well-made, Record vise. Several years ago I removed the smaller wooden jaws that I originally attached to it and put on these monster oak jaws. One might think this would put some weird stresses on the vise mechanism, but I have noticed no problems. It is a pretty simple and cheap solution compared to twin vise screw hardware.
It works well for dovetailing and other woodworking operations too. For stock that is too wide for it, a board and a couple holdfasts in holes in the front bench apron do the trick.
On another note, there have been posts this week on Peter Follansbee’s blog and the Lost Art Press blog about seating styles, and three-legged stools and chairs. Chris made one with two legs in front and one in the back. This oak stool I made about eight years ago shows another option — two in the back and one in the front. Works great. Around our house it is known as “the butt stool.”