A place for me to display some of the varied projects that come out of my shop, as well as to "talk" about some of my experiences working with wood.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Hand Tool Bench-on-Bench (aka Moxon Vise)

During the building of my Toolchest, I spent quite a bit of time hunched over the bench paring out dovetails that I had cut. The next day I could not bend my neck and knew I had to fix this before I did my next hand tool project.

Moxon's engraving showing vise on front of workbench.
Many builders have played with the design of the Moxon vise which by most accounts was first found in Joseph' Moxon's landmark book on woodworking from 1678.

The recent renaissance of hand tool interest has resuscitated interest in the Moxon vise and many woodworkers and manufacturers have taken a stab at their interpretation of the Moxon vise.

I have looked at most of the designs out there as well as the many individual attempts at building this vise and developed a design that would work for me. I knew I wanted to use my end vise dogs to attach it to the bench and I wanted a small bench-on-bench work-surface, rather than just the two jaws like many designs. I asked my machinist pal Joey to use the same design he used for my end vise handle to make some wheels which would work with some threaded rod that I would build into the vise.

Wood Parts Layout before final assembly

I also built a mock-up with some blocks to test the height which would be best for me; I had read the the ideal height for this work is 4" below your elbow; after trying several heights it turned out the 3-3/4" below my elbow was the perfect height - the rule of thumb would likely have been fine!

Gluing the bench-on-bench "top" piece
Picture of vise in use making some drawer sides with prototype wheels.

I used some Maple that I got from the same mill as the birds eye for my Dad's rocker and built the various components to build the vise. The picture below shows the finished vise. A few test cuts on the new bench have proven its going to be very useful going forward. Since I have already been asked, these wheels are turned from 5" 4140 steel bar stock and are very heavy.

After using the vise on a couple of projects, one thing that has frustrated me is the the chop(front jaw) does not move when I remove pressure from the vise - I am looking for a small spring set-up which will open the jaws for me.

The finished Moxon.

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