Hand Tools

Some thoughts
Response To:
Vice advice ()

Wiley Horne--So. Calif.
Hi Joe and all,

1. What I understand you have told us: This is not your last bench, or your last vise. You need something that works, or can be made to work for most applications, that is not a bear to install, that is not a major project in itself, that gets you going now with a reasonable outlay.

2. The ‘no regrets’ concept: Stepwise progress is practical, probably necessary, but throwing money away on something that will become useless at the next step will cause regret—as in, now I wish I hadn’t bought that earlier vise. A ‘no regrets’ vise is one that is likely not your ultimate solution, but is quality enough that you will always have a use for it, even after you upgrade. I suggest that the ‘no regrets’ test is one that your next purchase should pass.

3. The quick release face vise. Your original idea seems to me to be the most practical. The main issue with a face vise is that the best one ever made will rack when you clamp a piece vertically in it for dovetailing or tenoning. So you’ll need side support for the workpiece when you’re dovetailing for instance. Like a pipe clamp thrown across the bench top to hold the off side of the dovetail piece, or a shim on the other side of the vise when tenoning. This isn’t the end of the world, though—lots have done those very things, and prefer having quick release over other considerations.

4. Leg vise. A great idea, especially if it’s anangled leg vise, but you have to think about the bench construction also. A Roubo bench has a heavy-duty leg tenoned, often double-tenoned, hrough the benchtop. So when the leg vise is tensioned, that thick leg is taking the load all the way to the top. But if your bench has a top fastened down onto a base—and the legs are not tenoned through, and if the work piece is laid horizontal for edge-planing, say—then the leg vise is trying to shear the top and the base apart. And it very well might.

So think through the leg heft and connection to the top if you go this way. Also, if the leg vise is not angled, you still haven’t solved the problem of holding vertical pieces without racking, because the screw is in the way. IMO, the angled leg vise is the one to build. Warren has commented on this a few times, IIRC.

5. Twin screw. I love the LV twin-screw, and have three of them. However, it is complicated to install, particularly tapering the front jaw, if you don’t have a lunchbox planer. Also, there is a substantial argument that leaving out the chain drive is better. What you really need is two wooden screws about 2”diameter, with a 3-3/4”to 4”hub. The big fat hub is critical to forcing the front jaw tight against the work all the way to the top when you’re clamping a stick horizontally. Problem: these heavy duty maple screws with fat hubs are expensive.

Gotta runnow, but this is a start. :)


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