Jan 03 2012

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Homemade End Vise

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This past year it seemed like everybody was making a Moxon vise, a vise that you clamp to the top of your workbench to raise your workpiece up to a more comfortable sawing level. After seeing how simple they were to make, I got the idea to finally make an end vice for my bench using some of the same construction techniques.

The album really tells most of the story, but like life, not everything fits into an orderly presentation. For instance my motivation: I know I could buy a better vise for under $100, but I wanted to build one myself and see how cheaply I could make it.   My choice of material for the jaws was construction grade lumber, I did consider making the jaws from 8/4 maple, but it wouldn’t match the rest of my bench. Also I bought the 2×8 for about 3 bucks whereas the maple would have cost $20.

I used 3/4″ all-thread and for the screws. Store bought vises don’t use all thread for at least two reasons. The first is backlash, Acme threads are simply better in that respect. Second standard 3/4″ all-thread has 10 threads per inch. This means you have to turn the vice handle ten times to move the jaws one inch — double that for two screws. I suspect that the wider and flatter acme threads are also much tougher.  None of these factors really concerned me though. Backlash be damned, you only care about one direction — tightening. Also think about the common thicknesses of wood you need to hold in a vice. Generally I use boards between 1/4″ and 3/4″ That’s only 5 maybe 6 turns per screw. Having more threads per inch also has an advantage, you can put more pressure on the workpiece with less pressure on the handle.

After I installed the vice on the bench I noticed that the moving jaw sagged quite a bit. This wasn’t a problem for holding material between the jaws because as I tightened it the jaws realigned, but it made another traditional use of the end vise almost impossible, using pegs and dog holes to hold material on the top of the bench. As I tightened the jaw it bent downward out of the plane. I fixed this by adding an extra point on support on the screws. — another nut on the underside of the table. This removed enough sagging so that I could use the dog holes.

All in all I spent less than $25 on the entire project, the largest expenses were  the all-thread ($10 for 3′) and the 2″ poplar dowel ($7 for 3′).

*Google once again changed the way they show pictures.

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