Since I began making Moxon-style vises in 2010, I’m made several dozens for students customers and have made some small changes to the way I build them.
Above all, I try to keep my Moxon vises as simple and compact as possible, which is why I haven’t added tables or other gizmos. Here is what my latest one, which ships out today, looks like.
The most significant change is that I now bevel all four edges of the front chop, as shown above. This reduces weight without changing the clamping pressure applied by the screws (clamping pressure radiates from 45° from the pressure point).
Why reduce the weight? To shift the balance of the vise onto the bench. The vise shown above sits with the rear chop on the benchtop without tipping forward. That makes it easier to clamp the vise down with only two hands. The bevel on the edges also makes it easier to saw the pins in half-blind dovetails without the saw encountering the chop.
The second change is that I line both jaws with adhesive cork instead of leather. Cork is inexpensive, easy to install and I can plane and bore it like wood. I like to have the cork cover the entire surfaces of both chops so I can clamp outside the screws. This is helpful for when sawing the half pin off the tailboard in casework. With the cork I can get a lot of pressure both inside and outside the screws.
The handles are also a little different. After so many disasters with the Chinese wood-threading kits I buckled down and bought a 28mm German one from Dieter Schmid. Yes, it’s expensive, but this thing has paid for itself many times over already. (Note: I also had to buy a 23mm Forstner for the pilot hole.)
Another change to the handles: I now use teak offcuts whenever possible. Teak is ideal for this part. It is tough and is naturally waxy. These are a joy to work with no squeaking.
The final change is mostly cosmetic. I now add a few die-forged French nails to attach the cleat to the back of the rear chop – in addition to gluing the cleat. I just like the way it looks.
The Moxon vise is still one of my most-used shop appliances. My back thanks me for the vise every time I have to cut dovetails for casework or drawers.
— Christopher Schwarz