If you have been following my blog for any length of time you know how I’ve always questioned whether you need to have permanently attached vises on your workbench. While I included a leg vise and a tail vise when I built my bench, I recently made changes and stopped using them. That’s not to say that vises aren’t important.
Before removing my leg vise I built a Moxon style vise using F-clamps to provide the clamping force. This vise works great and was perfect when cutting the many dovetails for the carcass of my Anarchist’s Tool Chest. You might notice that I’ve instituted a couple of modifications to the original build. I used to use F-clamps to clamp the vise to the work-top. I found that my Gramercy holdfasts work as well and are quicker and easier to set up. I also replaced the wooden screw handles with epoxied on knobs. They don’t stick out as far and give me greater torque than the skinny wooden handles did.
The Moxon is the go-to vise when I need to work the ends of wide boards or panels. But it is heavy to move around and large, it takes up the better part of my workbench when I have it set up. It is just plane overkill when I want to work on a smaller piece of wood. What I need is a different vise for that stuff. Back in the day, what I wanted was a shoulder vise like Frank Klausz had on his bench in Scott Landis’ The Workbench Book. I never got around to building a shoulder vise into any of my workbenches precisely because I felt it would be in the way any time I wasn’t working the end of a smaller piece of wood.
Since I’m hooked on mobile vises I thought that now would be the perfect time to design a shoulder vise that I can set up on the bench when needed and remove when not. This is a Sketchup model of what I’ve come up with. Again, I’m using an F-clamp for the power. Maybe I need to write a Jorgensen recipe book, this is like the third thing I’ve designed using these clamps.
I started with a 36″ bar clamp that I had laying around then used a hacksaw to shorten it to 12″. This one is part of a set that I bought at discount but it never held properly, it would slip when tightening the screw down. I was determined to correct that problem and use it in this project. Close examination reveals that the notches on one side of the bar that are supposed to keep it from slipping were not only machined shallow but off center of the bar. A triangular saw file corrected this and now it hold tenaciously.
I cut out the chops and the end cap with a 20º angle on one end, just for looks. Then stacked and drilled a mortise through them all for the bar. I used 4″ wide cherry and soft maple for the parts because those were scraps I had.
Beams across the top and bottom and everything held together with screws. My top beam is 10″ long but could have been shorter, the bottom is 18″ and could have been longer. The open slot on the end cap isn’t a mistake. If you’ve used F-clamps before you know that the bar bends and twists this way and that when you apply clamping pressure. Leaving the slot open lets the bar do as it wishes. Here, my design is holding a board while I saw a tenon. Holding power will benefit from some leather attached to the chop faces.
This vise’s specialty will be holding parts when cutting dovetails. In this regard it is virtually perfect…
ohhh nooo…the top beam interferes with your saw when cutting the left-most pin. Hum…maybe I’ll need to redesign that.
This is a Rev.01 prototype. Next one will be even better.