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Bench Vise

© 2012 August Home Publishing Co.


best-built jigs the best
Bench
& fixtures

Vise Raise your work


to a whole new
level. This vise
provides a solid
grip and all-
around access.
The two large vises on my work-
bench supply a lot of clamping
versatility to hold a range of work-
pieces steady. But sometimes, I find
them a little lacking.
When I’m working with small
pieces, or doing detail work that
requires a lot of finesse, a regular
vise is usually too big and too low
to work at comfortably. To solve this
problem, I made the add-on vise
you see here. The design is based
on a traditional style of vise, or étau,
that was once common in France
and other parts of Europe.
It’s made from stout hardwood
and rugged Acme threaded rods
to deliver all the clamping force
of a standard vise but in a com-
pact package. The narrow, profiled
jaws let me work on a piece from
a variety of angles. Perhaps best of
all, the vise is elevated so I’m not
stooped over while working — it’s
a real back-saver.
There’s one other benefit I want to
mention. The design provides three
ways to attach it to just about any
worksurface or bench.

1 WoodsmithPlans.com SN12030 ©2012 August Home Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved.
Exploded View Details LArge bolt
secures vise
OVERALL DIMENSIONS: to workbench
133⁄4"D x 41⁄2"W x 181⁄8"H through bench
Jaw faces can dog holes
be replaced Captured nut
when worn accepts ACME
threaded rod
Note: refer to
page 4 for special- Curved top of jaws
purpose jaw faces maximize access
to workpiece
clamped in vise

Vise screw
secured to hub Wide bracket
with pin lets you
and epoxy clamp vise
to any flat
worksurface

Bench nut
captures hex nut
Cotter pin to secure vise
allows in dog holes
front jaw
to retract
when vise
is released Vise jaws glued-up into
thick, rigid blanks to resist
deflection

Steel bands
reinforce
handle hub

Vise Mounted. The end


Hardwood stop of the rear jaw can be
nut keeps vise
jaws parallel clamped in a bench vise.

Shop-made
handle caps
provide Note: For hardware
comfortable Grip sources, turn to
page 11

Materials & Hardware


A Front/Rear Jaws (2) 21/4 x 41/2 - 18 • (1) 1"-6 Acme Nut
B Bracket (1) 21/4 x 41/2 - 71/4 • (1) 5/8"-8 Acme Nut
C Jaw Faces (2) 1/ x 15/ - 45/ • (2) 1" Flat Washers
2 8 8
D Hub (1) 2 x 2 - 23/4 • (1) 5/8" Flat Washer
E Handle (1) 3/ -dia. x 10 • (1) 5/32" x 11/2" Cotter Pin
4
F Caps (2) 11/8-dia. x 3/4 • (1) 11/2" x 4" Steel Pipe
G Stop Nut (1) 7/ x 2 - 23/ • (1) 1/4" x 23/16" Steel Rod
8 16
H Bench Nut (1) 1 x 3 - 33/8 • (1) 3/4"-10 x 7" Hex Bolt
• (1) 3/4"-10 Hex Nut
• (5) #8 x 1" Fh Brass Woodscrews • (2) 3/4" Flat Washers
• (1) 1"-6 x 12" Acme Threaded Rod
• (1) 5/8"-8 x 12" Acme Threaded Rod

2 WoodsmithPlans.com SN12030 ©2012 August Home Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved.
heavy-duty two pieces of thinner stock. You

Jaws
can see this in Figure 1 below. But
there’s another reason I glued up
the jaws. That’s to capture a nut
for the main screw in the rear jaw,
When it comes right down to it, the as shown in the side view draw-
vise basically consists of a pair of ing in Figure 1.
jaws and a mechanism to squeeze The front jaw blank can be glued
them together. The jaws are joined up right away. But hold off on the
by a pair of threaded rods that serve rear jaw for now. Instead, head over
this purpose. The large, upper rod to the drill press with the two jaw
applies the clamping pressure. The components. Drill a counterbore in
lower rod has a stop nut that serves the back face of the thicker piece to
as a fulcrum and prevents the jaws accept an Acme threaded hex nut. {  Hardwood Faces. The faces of
from racking when tightened. I I sized the counterbore for a snug, the vise can be replaced if they
began work on the vise by making press fit. Then drill a through hole get damaged or worn.
the large, hardwood jaws. in both pieces to provide clearance
Jaws. My goals for the jaws for the threaded rod. that while the nut centers the main
were to provide a firm grip on a Before gluing the jaw pieces screw in the hole in the rear jaw,
workpiece and also give me good together, fit the nut into the coun- the front jaw rests on the main
access for working. To accomplish terbore. To keep it from ever work- screw. So to keep the top of the
the first goal, I made the jaws ing loose, I poured epoxy around jaws flush, the clearance hole is
from 21⁄4"-thick blanks. (I used all of the edges. shifted down a bit.
white oak.) This stout construction A Few More Holes. The front Once the glue dries on the rear
means the jaws won’t flex when jaw needs a through hole as well. jaw, there are two more holes to drill
you tighten the screw. But this smaller hole is drilled in near the bottom of each jaw. These
Stock this thick isn’t easy to find. a slightly different location from accept the lower screw. The stopped
So I glued up each jaw blank from the first (Figure 1). The reason is hole in the front jaw is sized to hold

1 2
FIGURE FIGURE

REAR JAW
A (GLUE UP AFTER
DRILLING HOLES)
FRONT JAW
(2!/4" x 4!/2" - 18)
NOTE: EACH JAW
A CONSISTS OF A 1#/4"-THICK 1!/2
LAYER AND A !/2"-THICK
LAYER GLUED TOGETHER 7#/4
FRONT REAR
1!/8"- JAW JAW
DIA. 5!%/16
5!%/16
1!/8"-
DIA. !/4 2!/4
6 %/8
SIZE
COUNTER-
1!/16"-DIA. BORE
FOR
PRESS
1"-6 ACME FIT WITH !%/16
HEX NUT FRONT REAR NUT
CL JAW JAW

1
1
CL

6!/2 a. CUT BEVELED


SHOULDERS
ON EACH JAW

%/8"- 20°
DIA.

1!/2 WASTE
#/4"-DIA. THROUGH
HOLE DRILLED AFTER
GLUEUP 1

SIDE VIEW

3 WoodsmithPlans.com SN12030 ©2012 August Home Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved.
a 5⁄8" Acme threaded rod. The one in
the rear jaw is slightly larger so the
3 JAW FACE
(!/2" x 1%/8" - 4%/8")
#8 x 1" BRASS
WOODSCREW
jaw won’t bind on the rod in use. C
Details. After completing the
holes, there are some more details to BRACKET
(2!/4" x 4!/2" - 7!/4")
NOTE: LOCATE AND
add to each jaw. The first is a shallow B DRILL &/8"-DIA. HOLE IN
BRACKET TO ALIGN WITH
rabbet cut along the inside faces, as BENCH DOG HOLES
ON YOUR BENCH
in Figure 2 on page 3. Replaceable
jaw faces nest here to grip the work-
pieces. I cut the rabbets at the table
saw with a dado blade.
The next detail applies only to the
rear jaw. Later you’ll add a bracket a.
to the back that lets you attach the
vise to your workbench. The bracket 2#/16 1#/8 b.
locks into notches cut in the rear jaw.
Here again, I cut the notches at the
1#/8"-RAD. 1!/2"-
table saw with a dado blade. RAD. CL
The bracket is just one option
REMOVE
for attaching the vise to a work- CUT
%/8 REMAINING
PROFILE WASTE AT
surface. You can also clamp it in (/16"-RAD. ON EACH BAND SAW
JAW
a vise on your workbench. To do
this, I cut down the lower portion AUX.
MITER
of each jaw to make it a little nar- 1"-RAD. 2!/4 GAUGE
FENCE
rower. The shoulder is beveled to WASTE
transition to the thinner section, as
illustrated in Figure 2a. The lower
end of the front jaw is a hair nar-
rower than the rear jaw. I did this
so that if the vise is clamped in a Then at the bottom of the jaw, a Before gluing the bracket in place,
workbench vise, the front jaw is large roundover softens the sharp drill a hole in it to match the loca-
free to move. edge, like you see in Figure 3. tion of the bench dog holes. Finally,
Throw in A Few Curves. The Bracket. The next part to make round over the sharp corners.
final details on the jaws are add- is the bracket. It has a wide notch Faces. The last items to add to the
ing a few curves. The top and bot- that fits the notches in the rear jaws are the faces. These are simply
tom of each jaw are shaped, as you jaw. To make the notch, I cut the cut to size and screwed in place. In
can see in Figure 3. The curved top cheeks at the table saw, as in Fig- the box below, you can see a couple
serves to offer greater access to a ure 3b. Then the remaining waste options for special-purpose faces
workpiece clamped in the vise. is removed at the band saw. you may consider.

Special-Purpose Jaw Faces


<  V-Groove Jaws.
The series of
V-grooves in these
faces hold round
stock without
slipping.

>  Leather Jaws.


Leather-lined jaws
provide a firm grip
on odd-shaped
objects without
leaving vise marks.

4 WoodsmithPlans.com SN12030 ©2012 August Home Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved.
applying the
Squeeze
Completing the jaws lets you focus Making the Hub. Although the
on the mechanism that actually final shape of the hub is round,
supplies the clamping pressure you don’t need a lathe to make it.
— the main screw. There’s more Instead, with a little hand work,
to it than just a section of Acme you can get a smooth, round hub
threaded rod, however. in short order.
Earlier, I mentioned how the The first few steps take place
screw threads into a nut captured while the hub is still a square
in the rear jaw. But you need a way blank, as you can see in Figure 4. I
to turn the screw and to draw the started by marking the centerpoint
front jaw against the rear jaw. That on each end of the hub.
task falls to the hub. To lay out the final shape of the {  Apply Force. A hardwood hub
In the photo at right, you can see hub, I used the steel bands as a strengthened by steel bands lets
what the finished hub looks like. pattern. The bands are just short you lock the vise down.
A wide bearing surface on the end sections of steel pipe, cut to length.
pushes the front jaw. And a cross Just be sure to cut the ends as After drilling the holes, you can
handle allows you to apply an iron square as possible. cut the hub to rough shape. I did
grip to a workpiece in the vise. Then, I centered the steel band this at the band saw. As you make
Steel bands on each end keep the on the end and traced both the this cut, stay as close to the line as
hub from splitting. inside and outside of the band. possible. This will make cleaning
The outside line is the final pro- up the hub much easier.
4 1!/2" STEEL PIPE
file of the hub. And the inner line
marks the side of a short tenon that
Round Tenon. Creating the
tenon on each end of the hub is the
(2" O.D. x !/2")
the band will slide over. next order of business. It starts with
While the hub was still square cutting the shoulder. I did this with
FIRST: LAY OUT I drilled a couple of holes. The a hand saw (Figure 5). I put a strip
CENTER AND
TRACE RING ON first was a stopped hole in the end of tape on the blade to act as a depth
EACH END
sized to accept the main screw. The gauge for the cuts. Don’t worry if
1"-DIA. x
SECOND: DRILL 1!/4"-DEEP
CL other hole is a cross hole for the you cut a little deeper. It will be cov-
HOLES hardwood handle. ered by the steel band.
#/4"-DIA.
In Figure 6, you can see how to
6
THIRD: CUT HUB 1!/16
TO ROUGH SHAPE
cut the sides of the tenon. I used
PARE AWAY WASTE
FROM TENON a chisel and a mallet to pop small
WITH CHISEL
D
sections of the waste off. If you
HUB taper the tenon slightly, it will
(2" x 2" - 2#/4")
ease the fit of the band in place.
But you’ll still have a nice tight fit
at the end. Then to make sure the

5 TAPE SERVES AS
7
DEPTH GUIDE
FOR CUTTING
TENON SHOULDER

a. UNDERCUT SHOULDER
FOR SEAMLESS FIT
APPLY EPOXY
HUB TO TENON
AND PRESS
RING ON
USING BENCH
VISE

5 WoodsmithPlans.com SN12030 ©2012 August Home Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved.
8 9 10
1"-6 x 12" V-BLOCK
ACME ROD CRADLES HUB
FOR DRILLING !/4"-DIA. x 2#/16"
TAP PIN IN STEEL PIN
PLACE AND
SAND FLUSH
WITH RING
NOTE: USE
GLUE FRAMING
SHAFT SQUARE TO
INTO CHECK IF V-BLOCK
HUB SHAFT IS
WITH ALIGNED
EPOXY WITH HUB
V-BLOCK

a.
!/4"
TWIST BIT

to retract the jaw. For this to hap-


SHAFT pen, you need to add a retaining
pin. You can see this in Figure 11.
I fit the rod through two washers
and the jaw and marked a point
between the threads (Figure 11a).
You want to leave a little play here
seam between the band and the hub, and rod, as shown in Figures 9 so the jaw doesn’t bind.
shoulder was tight, I undercut the and 10. To hold the hub while drill- Then it’s back to the drill press to
shoulder of the tenon slightly. This ing, I made a V-block. drill a hole in the screw so that is
is illustrated in Figure 6a (page 5). Connecting the Front Jaw. On can accept a cotter pin, as shown in
After testing the fit and fine-tun- its own, the hub will apply pres- Figures 11b and 11c. The cotter pin
ing the tenon, you’re ready to install sure to the front jaw. But when allows you to separate the assem-
the bands. For a solid connection, the screw is released, you want it bly for other work.
I buttered the tenons with some
11
FIGURE
epoxy and then pressed each band
in place. To supply even pressure, I a.
used my bench vise for the task, as
you can see in Figure 7 on page 5. %/32" x 1!/2"
Final Shaping. Once the epoxy COTTER PIN FRONT
JAW
dries, you can finish shaping the
MARK HOLE LOCATION
hub. You’ll need to remove any 1" WASHER AT “ROOT” OF
THREADS
epoxy squeezeout and smooth the (ONE ON EACH SIDE
OF JAW)
wood hub flush with the bands.
I started by knocking down the b. USE CUTTING
FLUID FOR
high spots on the hub. A file works EASIER
DRILLING
great here since it cuts quickly and
isn’t damaged if you catch the FRONT JAW
bands. Then I finished up with #/16"
TWIST BIT
sandpaper to smooth both the
wood and the metal.
Adding the Rod. At this stage,
you can glue the threaded rod
into the hub. This is shown above
in Figure 8. The key here is keep- c.
c.
ing the rod aligned with the hub.
I used a framing square to check
the alignment at several points
around the hub. BEND OUT ENDS OF
COTTER PIN TO SECURE
To reinforce this connection, I IT IN SHAFT
added a pin through the band,

6 WoodsmithPlans.com SN12030 ©2012 August Home Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved.
wrapping up
The Vise
The hard work is behind you at
this stage in the game. From here
on out, you just need to wrap up
a few items. This includes adding
a handle to the hub, installing the
lower screw, and gathering some
hardware to attach the vise to
your workbench.
The Handle. The handle in the
hub is where muscle power turns
into clamping force. I made the han- {  Even Clamping. A shop-made nut on the lower screw acts as a stop
dle from a length of white oak dowel so the jaws stay parallel to provide even clamping pressure.
to match the other parts of the vise.
Select a dowel with straight highlight the steps, but I want to drilled out the cap from the blank,
grain. This allows it to resist break- cover a few of the details. as shown in Figure 13.
ing and stay straight over time. The trick is drilling a centered The last step is to smooth out the
You may need to sand the dowel hole in such a small, round piece. cap and give it a gentle barrel shape.
slightly so that it slides easily back The solution is to drill the stopped Here again, I did the work at the
and forth in the hub. hole for the handle in a larger blank drill press (Figure 14). The handle
End Caps. Plain dowels slip right first. I used a fence and a stop block caps aren’t that big, but they can be
out of the hub when you let go. So I to hold the blank in position while I a bit tricky. For a step-by-step look
added a hardwood cap to each end. drilled the hole with a Forstner bit. at this process, turn to Shop Short
The caps are made in a three- For the second step, I replaced Cuts on page 9.
step process. Figures 13 and 14 the Forstner bit with a hole saw I wanted to make it possible to
(remove the center pilot bit) and easily remove the handle from the
hub down the road. So I only glued
12
FIGURE
ATTACH ONE CAP
WITH SCREW
HANDLE
a. one cap onto the handle.
OR PLASTIC To attach the other one, you can
(SEE DETAIL ‘a’) use one of the two methods illus-
PLASTIC
(TRIM FLUSH) trated in Figure 12a. I drove a screw
through the end of the cap and
CAP into the end of the handle. Another
option is use the same trick that was
F #8 x 1" Fh used to shape the cap.
CAP WOODSCREW
(1!/8"-DIA. x #/4")

13 14
E
HANDLE
(#/4"-DIA. x 10")

INSTALL
GLUE CAP CUTOFF SCREW
ON ONE END IN DRILL PRESS
1!/4"
HOLE SAW
(REMOVE
PILOT BIT)

FIRST: DRILL
STOPPED HOLE
!/2" DEEP SECOND: CUT SHAPE CAP
OUT CAP WITH WITH FILE AND NOTE: TURN TO
HOLE SAW SANDPAPER PAGE 9 FOR
DETAILS ON
SHAPING CAP

7 WoodsmithPlans.com SN12030 ©2012 August Home Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved.
15
FIGURE
You can slip a piece of plastic Bench Hardware. The bracket
between the cap and handle, and on the back of the vise allows you
trim away the excess. to clamp the vise to almost any sur- STOP NUT
(&/8" x 2" - 2#/16")

Lower Screw
face. But I also included a way to
attach it to my workbench using a
a. G

The main, upper screw does most bench dog hole. %/8"-8
ACME
of the work in the vise. However, I slipped a long bolt through NUT
the lower screw plays a critical the bracket and workbench and
part in the operation. Without the secured it with a washer and nut
lower screw, the front jaw would below the bench, as in Figures 16
rack out of parallel and provide and 16a. But just like the lower
uneven pressure. screw, I made a larger wood nut SIZE
The key is the stop nut. When set for an easier grip. The only differ- COUNTERBORE
FOR SNUG
to match the thickness of the work- ence is that this one is a bit larger, PRESS FIT
piece clamped in the vise, it keeps as illustrated in Figure 16b.
GLUE SHAFT
the jaws parallel with each other. With the rear jaw secured to the IN PLACE
2 WITH EPOXY
Installing the Rod. The lower workbench, you can then thread
screw is installed in the front jaw the main screw along with the
and slides through the hole in the front jaw into the captured nut in
rear jaw. Just like the main screw the rear jaw. The lower screw will
and hub, I secured the lower screw slide into place in the rear jaw. %/8
&/8
in the front jaw with epoxy. And Finally, your new bench vise is
once again, it’s a good idea to use ready to be put to work.
a square to make sure it’s perpen-
16
FIGURE
dicular to the jaw, as you can see
in Figure 15.
Stop Nut. You could simply use a
standard Acme threaded nut and a THREAD MAIN
washer here. But the relatively small SCREW INTO
CAPTURED NUT IN #/4"-10 x 7"
size of the nut makes it difficult to REAR JAW HEX BOLT

grasp when you make adjustments.


My answer is to inset the steel
nut in a larger hardwood nut. The #/4" WASHER
steel nut is glued into a counterbore
in the larger nut, as shown in Fig-
ure 15a. For more details on how to
lay out a hexagonal nut and cut it
to size, turn to page 10.

a. LOWER SHAFT
SLIDES FREELY IN
HOLE IN REAR JAW
CAPTURED
NUT

#/4"-10
NUT
BRACKET

WORKBENCH
REAR
JAW BOLT SLIPS
IN DOG HOLE
IN BENCH H
3 BENCH BENCH NUT
NUT (1" x 3" - 3#/8")

BENCH 1
NUT

SIDE VIEW b.
8 WoodsmithPlans.com SN12030 ©2012 August Home Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved.
Shop
Short
Cuts
Making a
Handle Cap
Even though they’re small parts, drill press using a file, as shown in the drill press, I threaded a cut-off
the handle caps for the bench vise the upper right photo. The trick is screw in one end of the dowel, as
offer some unique challenges. One holding the cap securely while still shown in Figure 3.
of those is giving them a gentle, being able to easily remove it later. This screw needs to be perfectly
barrel shape. The solution begins by jamming centered for the dowel to spin true
In order to keep the profile smooth it onto a short section of 3⁄4"-dia. and create an even shape. You can
and even, I “turned” each cap at the dowel. To install this assembly in see this in Figures 1 and 2.
First I drilled a hole in a scrap
1 3
FIGURE
to accept the dowel. Then, with-
out moving the blank, insert the
dowel in the hole and drill a pilot
SECOND: hole for the screw.
CUT HEAD OFF
SCREW WITH To keep the dowel from spin-
HACKSAW
ning, I lined the hole with some
#/4"
FORSTNER plastic from a grocery bag. After
BIT CLAMP BLANK
TO DRILL driving the screw into the dowel,
PRESS TABLE
you can cut the head off with a
AUXILIARY
FENCE hacksaw and install the assembly
in the drill press.
Here again, to keep the cap in
2 place, I wedged a few layers of
plastic between the cap and dowel,
as shown in the upper left photo.
I trimmed away the excess plastic
DRILL PILOT with a utility knife before starting
HOLE FOR
SCREW the drill press.
FIRST: DRIVE Shaping the cap is as simple as
#8 x 1!/2" Fh
LAYERS OF WOODSCREW holding a file against the cap as it
PLASTIC KEEP INTO END OF
DOWEL FROM DOWEL spins. In a short time, you’ll have
SPINNING
a pleasing shape, and a new tech-
nique to use for future projects.

9 WoodsmithPlans.com SN12030 ©2012 August Home Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved.
Laying out a Hexagon
The large wood bench and stop illustrated in the drawings below.
Stop
nuts (like the ones shown in the The next step is to mark a centerline Nut
photo at right) that are used on the on each blank. Bench
Nut
bench vise are more comfortable Then you can set a compass to
to operate by hand than steel hex the radius given for each nut and
nuts. And I found they’re pretty draw a pair of arcs. Where the
simple to make. However, there is arcs, centerline, and sides inter-
a definite order to follow to get a sect forms the points of the nut.
consistent shape. Once you connect the points with a through hole for the Acme rod.
It starts by cutting an extra- a straightedge, you’ll have the final The large blank is easier to secure
long blank for each nut. I cut the shape of each nut. at the drill press. After that, cut
blank to the final width of the nut Before cutting the nut to shape, out the nut at the band saw, stay-
across the flats. This creates two it’s a good idea to drill the coun- ing just on the waste side of the
finished sides right off the bat, as terbore to accept the steel nut and lines. At last, sand it smooth.

3
2 SECOND:
DRAW A DRAW ARCS
1#/4"-RAD. WITH A COMPASS
SECOND: ARC TO DETERMINE
DRAW A THE CORNERS
1!/8"-RAD. OF THE NUT
ARC STOP ON THE BLANK
NUT

BENCH
NUT

FIRST: DRAW
CENTERLINE
ON BLANK

THIRD: FIRST: DRAW


DRAW LINES CENTERLINE
CONNECTING ON BLANK
THE POINTS
OF THE
INTERSECTING
LINES

CL

10 WoodsmithPlans.com SN12030 ©2012 August Home Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved.
MAIL Project Sources
ORDER
SOURCES To make the best bench vise you’ve ever
used, you’re going to need some hard-
Woodsmith Store
800-444-7527 ware. The bench vise requires a 1"-6
Acme rod (98935A748), a 1"-6 Acme nut
McMaster-Carr (94815A111), 1" washers (98029A038),
630-600-3600 and a 5⁄8" washer (98029A035). You’ll
mcmaster.com
also need a 5⁄8"-8 Acme rod (98935A724),
5⁄ "-8 Acme nut (94815A108), 3⁄ "-10"
8 4
hex bolt (91236A861), 3⁄4"-10" hex
nut (93827A259), and a cotter pin
(98338A230). All of these items came
from McMaster-Carr.

11 WoodsmithPlans.com SN12030 ©2012 August Home Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved.