Moxon Vise Omnibus

Intro_Moxon_Workbench

The title of this post is a bit of a misnomer; there’s simply not time enough for me to track down and link to everything we have written about the Moxon vise, or the many posts on other sites about the same. But I’ve taken a  stab at it, because at least once a week, I get a question about the vise – how to build it, its utility, hardware options, etc.

So below, you’ll find links to some posts that will answer many questions and help you find the right hardware for your budget and building predilections, plus a link to read (free) the build article we published in 2010.

Here’s how I, and a lot of our readers, were introduced to this workholding workhorse: In 2010, Christopher Schwarz began writing on his (mostly hand tools) blog about an image he saw in Joseph Moxon’s English “Mechanick Exercises,” which he dubbed “the Moxon vise” – though Moxon, who was by trade a printer rather than a woodworker,” likely, er, borrowed the illustration from André Félibien’s French (and earlier) “Princips de l’architecture…” (which is about to be available in English – click on the link for more information). But Stephen Shepherd’s post on the Moxon predates ours – so his post is a good place to start.

Chris made several iterations (you’ll find links below), as have many others (more links).

And people started making hardware to overcome the need for sometimes-pesky thread boxes to turn the screws. (Again, links below.)

A quite-recent addition to makers of Moxon vise hardware is Texas Heritage Woodworking. In fact, the company’s hardware is so new that it isn’t quite yet available (it’ll be for sale in person for the first time in the marketplace at Woodworking in America 2014 in two weeks – thought you can place a pre-order now). It’s a clever and relatively inexpensive design: $80 for the welded “winged” nuts and the post screws (that’s the introductory price). It looks cool, and I’m going to buy a set and build yet another Moxon (every woman needs at least four!) – but what’s better is following Jason Thigpen’s design and development process on the Texas Heritage blog. Fascinating stuff.

Also, Tools for Working Wood now has hardware back in stock for building your own Moxon-style vise ($69); what’s interesting about this hardware is the articulating handles – they can be positioned out of the way of your work. (I use this version at work.(

Then, there’s the Benchcrafted hardware with 5″ handwheels, which is the hardware I have on the vise I use at home.

Of course, you can do it the old-fashioned way and turn your own wooden screws (you’ll need a thread box) like Chris did in that 2010 article; read it here. Or, you can buy stock screws from a metal-supply company as a number of people have written about online.

And now, for (I hope) everything you could possibly want to read about Moxon vises of all types and price points:

On our site, in descending order of post dates:
New Bullet-proof Moxon-style Vises from Lie-Nielsen (Chris)
Threadboxes: One More Song the Radio Won’t Like (Chris)
Questions About the Moxon Vise (Chris)
Tapping Threads Without Tapping Out (Chris)
Tool Test: Philadelphia Workshop Moxon Vise (Megan)
Super-simple Support for the Moxon Twin-screw (Chris)
Tool Test: Benchcrafted Double-screw “Moxon” Vise (Megan)
My Benchcrafted Moxon Vise (Chris)
Video: Build a Moxon Double-screw Vise (Chris)
Declaring Victory with the Double-screw Vise; includes a video of it use (Chris)
A Visit from the Ghost of Joseph Moxon (Chris)
Joseph Moxon’s Double-screw Vise (Chris)

On other sites, in no particular order:
Derek Cohen’s Moxon Dovetail Vise (In the Workshop)
Randy’s Moxon Vise on the Cheap
(Wood Whisperer)
Moxon Vise with Metal Screws (Garage Woodworker)
How to Make a Moxon Sliding Vise; uses clamps to hold the jaws together (Jay’s Custom Creations)
Rob Porcaro’s Moxon Vise (Heartwood)
Woodnet’s Moxon Thread
Sawmill Creek’s Moxon Thread

And yes, I know there are many more; feel free to provide URLs in the comments. And now back to panic mode on two fronts (November binder tomorrow (good thing I got my project done); WIA in two weeks). None of my Moxons will see use until Sept. 16.

— Megan Fitzpatrick

19 thoughts on “Moxon Vise Omnibus

  1. wesleyb

    I realize that this is a comment on a post that is pretty old by now, and I may not see a reply. Still, one can hope.

    I think I’ve seen where these vises have been made in mostly hard wood. Benchcraft sells their complete vise in hard maple, for example.

    My question is, should it matter? Naturally you don’t want to strip out the wood if you use wooden screws. Naturally harder woods stand up better over time. But what matters – I think – is that the vise grips the material solidly. It seems like it would be able to hold the wood effectively whether it is made from hard maple or basswood. It’s size alone will make it larger and heavier than the pieces you’d be working on. Of course, a really soft wood would ding up a lot over time, so not look as nice in 10 years as one made out of hard maple, for example. But functionally, would it make a difference?

    I hope to build one in the coming couple weeks out of a discarded roof rafter – probably pine, at least 100 years old with very tight grains. Not really related to my question as I’m sure it will still be hard enough, but thinking through the plans I’ve seen for the vise I was curious.

    1. wesleyb

      I forgot to add that due to its design I don’t see the need for really high stresses being applied by tightening the vise. There’s so much of the faces of the vise in contact with the wood that there isn’t a need – I believe and please correct me if I’m wrong – to really tighten this thing down hard on the material you’re working with.

    2. Megan Fitzpatrick Post author

      I don’t think I’d use balsa, but we’ve had a poplar Moxon in the shop for a while now, and it’s held up well. Yes, it’s a hardwood, but not as hard as maple. I can see building one out of pine – particularly old-growth, tight-grained pine (the framing in my house is of that – it’s as hard as stone…which I know because I had to drill through it for some new electric). That ought to hold up fine.

      1. wesleyb

        Hey! Thanks for the prompt reply on such an old post!

        Balsa was just an extreme example, of course. I will see how my old roof rafter works out. It’s bowed, got a lot of very large nail holes buried into one side of it, and a few feet down one length it is trying to split out along one face of one edge a lot. I’ve thought that where that happens I’ll try use it for the outside face and cut a chamfer through it, as Chris mentions doing on some he’s built.

        I’ve liked the idea of using the board for something, just so I can say that this came from the roof of that house over there, and was harvested sometime around when this neighborhood was first built up.

        I’ve ordered the Benchcraft hardware, and if the board doesn’t hold up I’ll just have to get something else to put the hardware in.

  2. gizmocan

    Hi, love all of the added info regarding the Moxon vise and look forward to the translation of André Félibien’s “Des principes de l’architecture, de la sculpture, de la peinture… or at least part of it.
    Please note that you are referring to his works as ” Princips de l’architecture…” for some reason you are dropping the “e” in principes. Regards D.E.

  3. mbholden

    Interestingly, I came across a commercially made moxon vise at a yard sale this summer.
    All wood, it was made by the “EMIR” company in Ashford, England.
    Had never heard of a commercially made vise before this (except for the Benchcrafted kit).

  4. B Jackson

    deric,

    It’s kind of tough deciding between two wood products – the Scott Landis book or more wood to work. Just so you know, I don’t have the Landis book, either, so I’m glad you pointed that out to us. :)

  5. B Jackson

    My favorite Moxon vise article appeared in the PW Oct 2012 issue – http://www.popularwoodworking.com/projects/jigs/gizmozilla .

    Remember Gizmozilla?

    In the meanwhile, I have tried just about every mortise cutting technique but this one, It does make a lot of sense and I do have the plunge routers and accessories to make this Gizmo thing work.

    To cut dovetails for our bed cabinet drawers, I turned my router fence around and held the tail boards (paired, of course) to the fence Moxon-style with hand screws. That’s how I figured that Gizmozilla will work …

  6. deric

    Scott Landis showed a modified bookbinder’s vise credited to Joel Seaman for dovetailing in The Workbench Book page 134 first published in 1987. It is used exactly like the “Moxon” vise that has become the rage. This is where I learned of Roubo benches and also how to clamp boards for dovetailing. I can’t believe that Chris never read that book.

    1. Megan Fitzpatrick Post author

      I’m sure he did. Any fault or misrepresentation here is mine. _I_ learned about the Moxon from Chris. And then read it in Moxon, Felibien, et al.

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