‘Bench Bull’ – The Jack of All Bench Jigs, Part 3

This Bench bull is equipped with two 1/2" pipe clamps

This Bench Bull is equipped with two 1/2″ pipe clamps

After showing you in my last post a few ways for clamping workpieces to the Bench Bull (F-style clamps, Veritas Fast-Action Hold-Downs and 3/4” pony #56 pipe clamps), I want to introduce one last way: a regular 1/2″ or 3/4″ pipe clamp that will make your Bull even more handy – practically transforming it into a miniature workbench or portable vise.

This small Bench bull is made from a few pieces of 2x4. The rectangular gap in the middle allows for the insertion of a middle clamp.

This small Bench Bull is made from a few pieces of 2×4. The rectangular gap in the middle allows for the insertion of a middle clamp.

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Which Pipe Diameter to Use?
It mainly depends on the size of the Bull and the clamps you have around or can buy. In preparation for this post I bought three different pipe clamps. Two of them, Jorgensen and Irwin, accept a 3/4” black pipe, while the Bessey is riding on a 1/2” pipe (Bessey also makes a 3/4” version). If you like to have a long, tall and wide Bull with a stronger vise, install two or more 3/4” pipe clamps along the Bull. But for a small and short Bench Bull, a 1/2” pipe clamp will suffice. 

There are a few ways for installing a pipe clamp as a vise. I evaluated the mounting possibility and concluded that the most practical way for me is to secure the rear head to the back of the Bull with screws. This prevents the clamp from rolling over, because its center of gravity is higher than the pipe’s center. It also allows me to have a few exchangeable vise jaw patterns that can be inserted on the pipes with ease.

After mounting the rear heads with screws, I though about another way to do it that would facilitate a rapid remove of the rear heads. If you embed a rare-earth magnet in the Bull’s inner face, it will attract the cast iron head and prevent it from rolling over. If you embed another magnet in the vise’s moving jaw, it will enhance the stability of your pipe vise even more.

Make sure to support the pipe clamp head against the drill press fence or in a wooden Handscrew clamp  while drilling. And remember to use oil as a lubricant for the drilling and countersinking.

Make sure to support the pipe clamp head against the drill press fence or in a wooden handscrew while drilling. And remember to use oil as a lubricant for the drilling and countersinking.

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A shop made planing T-Square allows me to plane small parts on the Bench Bull.

A shop-made planing T-Square allows me to plane small parts on the Bench Bull.

I use my Bench bull when I need to have the projects I am working on  closer to my eyes and shoulders. Here I secure a corner chisel during sharpening.

I use my Bench Bull when I need to have the projects I am working on closer to my eyes and shoulders. Here, I’m securing a corner chisel during sharpening.

A rare earth magnet embedded in the bull will prevent the pipe clamp from rolling over.

A rare-earth magnet embedded in the bull will prevent the pipe clamp from rolling over.

Below is a drawing with critical measurements for mounting a 1/2” Bessey pipe clamp.

Bench Bull pipe vise

The two pipe clamp Bench bull allows you to tightly clamp tapered parts

A two pipe clamp Bench bull allows you to tightly clamp tapered parts

— Yoav Liberman

CATEGORIES
PWM Shop Blog, Woodworking Blogs
Yoav Liberman

About Yoav Liberman

Yoav S. Liberman is a woodworker and a teacher. His pieces have been featured in several woodworking books, most recently in Robin Wood’s CORES Recycled. Yoav teaches woodworking at the Rudolf Steiner School in Manhattan, and also frequently guest teaches in craft schools across the country.  Between 2003 and 2011 Yoav  headed the woodworking program at Harvard University's Eliot House. Yoav’s articles have appeared in American Woodworker and Woodwork Magazine. He frequently contributes woodworking web content to a number of digital publications   Yoav has a degree in architecture and later held two competitive residency programs: at The Worcester Center for Crafts in Massachusetts, and the Windgate Foundation Fellowship at Purchase College, New York. He lives in Chestnut Ridge NY.

9 thoughts on “‘Bench Bull’ – The Jack of All Bench Jigs, Part 3

  1. lclement4

    I’ve been looking at various Moxon vise home builds, and most of them are somewhat complicated, or require a lot of effort to build. This bench bull is exactly what I need for my workbench. I’m going to make one right away. Thaks for sharing this awesome design.

  2. madmac99

    Working on my bench bull this week. Making it of 3 1/2″ square laminated white oak stair newel post I bought at my local millwork shop. Finished bench bull will be 24″ long x 3 1/4″ thick x 12″ high. Similar in style to bench bull#1 posting. Hogged out motises with 1 1/2″ Forster bit and finishing up with chisels, tough stuff even with sharp chisels. Cut tenon using tenon in jig at max setting.

  3. cheekygeek

    I love that you are using those antique cam clamps. I have a pair of those, as well. Cool tools.

  4. amoscalie

    The portable bench bull looks like a really great idea and is simple enough to make. I particularly like the freehand sketches, they look like something that I would do, no CAD just pure thinking. Now what I’m waiting for is someone to go crazy and build an 8′ long “portable” bench bull out of mahogany.

    1. Yoav LibermanYoav Liberman Post author

      An 8′ bull would surly be something…
      In the meantime a woodworker from Switzerland emailed me a picture of a nice Bull that he had built form oak. I will share them with our readers some time in next couple of weeks.

  5. Wardster

    Awesome stuff!! For what it’s worth, I just discovered your part of these blogs, yesterday, and already decided that I’ll be starting at your first blog posting, here, and reading all of them. Lots of great info!

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