I recently posted about my Bench on Bench from Tools for Working Wood failing. [edit: I recently learned that this is not in fact built by Gramercy Tools, but by Philadelphia Furniture Workshop. It was a real disappointment because 1) the thing is not cheap, and 2) it is crucial to the types of work I am doing now. It is also heavy and difficult to ship for repair. Most disappointing of all, though, was a perceived lack of response by the generally expedient, patient, and all-around good-guy proprietor, Joel Moskowitz.
I removed the post because I did receive a reply from Joel, and he explained how to address the issue with my unit and also explained the reason for the delay in replying. Its all too easy to become spoiled by instant customer service in this day and age, and in the end, I am now happy with the BOB again.
The issue is that the vise screws hook into nuts that are set into mortices cut into the bottom of the maple slab. These mortises were obscured by my base, and I did not remove it to troubleshoot. If I had, I would have cleared this issue up quickly. Silly of me to not do so, but at the same time, this should not have been an issue to begin with. One of the nuts had enough room in the mortise to float and spin freely, rather than remain in place. Easily fixed with some shims. I shimmed the other, more snug one as well and covered the mortises with tape to ensure this doesn't happen again. It would be a simple step for this to be done before sales, but I do realize this is a specialty item and by its very nature, it is sold to tinkerers who should be able to figure this out.
So I will hold up my recommendation of the TFWW Bench-on-bench for anyone without the inclination, time, or skill to build their own. In my case, it was a matter of wanting to get working using the vise, not wanting to get to work building a vise. In general, I believe as many appliances as possible should be shop-made, but there are always times when purchasing one can make sense, and if this is your situation, I recommend this deivce. Perhaps the assembly instructions could be augmented to suggest adding shims and tape before attaching the base, or perhaps I am just a rare knucklehead who is able to break about anything in unique ways.
Joel has always been very patient with my newbish questions about his tools (as well as his contributions to The Joiner and Cabinet Maker book). I will continue to respect his toolmaking, scholarship, and business although this was a bit of an easily-avoidable issue on both of our parts.
Now that the vise is functioning perfectly again, its back to the shop!