Chris Schwarz's Blog

Declaring Victory with the Double-screw Vise

Joseph Moxon I could kiss your dessicated worm-eaten corpse.

My newest version of the double-screw vise illustrated in Moxon’s “Mechanick Exercises” (1678) is a complete success. The vise is simple , five pieces of wood. And the only special equipment you need to build it is a wooden threadbox and tap (a $45 investment). And it takes only about an hour to construct.

When clamped to a bench or a table or any horizontal surface, the vise raises your work up to a nice no-stoop height (45″ if you please) so you can saw, chisel or lay things out without bending over. And when you are done with the vise, it stores away against the wall.

When I completed this version of the vise, Senior Editor Glen D. Huey said simply, “Make me one, and I’ll buy it.” That might be the highest praise I’ve ever received for my work.

We’re going to feature complete plans for the vise in a future issue, but it shouldn’t be too hard for a slightly clever ring-tailed lemur to suss it all out. Here are some details.

The front jaw is 1-3/4″ x 6-1/8″ x 30″ and pierced by 1-1/2″ holes that have 24-1/8″ between their edges. The rear jaw is 1-3/4″ x 6″ x 36″ and is pierced by two 1-1/2″ holes that are tapped. There is a rear support at back of the vise that is 1-3/4″ x 2″ x 30″, which stabilizes the rear jaw. And the two screws are 2″ x 2″ x 12-1/2″, with 7″ of the handle turned down to a shade under 1-1/2″ and then threaded.

This morning I asked Megan and Bob to try it out with their own tools and give me some feedback. Bob said, “I might not give this back.”

If you hate stooping when dovetailing, or you want a twin-screw vise but don’t want to rebuild your workbench, this is the answer.

The following is a short video showing how easy the vise is to use.

- Christopher Schwarz

Workbench Resources I Use All the Time

- “The Workbench Book” (Taunton) by Scott Landis

- “Mechanick Exercises” by Joseph Moxon. Now available in reprinted form.

- “Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction and Use” by me. I know this sounds like a shameless plug, but I actually do use my own book all the time. I’m getting old.

30 thoughts on “Declaring Victory with the Double-screw Vise

  1. John Walker

    Someone asked about handles for those who don’t have a lathe.

    What about handles such as are found on the ubiquitous ‘Workmate’? Either bought-in or fabricated.

    If you want to go the whole hog, buy two cheaper Vice screws.

    :)

  2. Christopher Schwarz

    Bill,

    The front jaw is wider so that when you put the vise on your work surface the lip at the bottom registers the whole thing perfectly. In other words, the rear jaw will end up perfectly flush with the front edge of your work surface.

    Hope this makes sense.

    Chris

  3. John Walker

    Hi there..
    Why do I no longer receive ‘Woodworking Magazine’ emails?
    They stopped arriving on the merger with ‘Popular Woodworking’, even though I submitted my email address..
    Ta!
    JW

  4. William D. Elliott

    Chris,
    Small question – but why was the height of the rear 6 inches while the height of the front 6 1/8th? Would it make any difference if they were both 6 inches?

    I assume that the extra 1/8th was on the lower side and that the top of the front and rear were aligned.

    Thanks.

    Bill Elliott

  5. Gregg Counts

    I really like it and intend to build one. Like someone else said it will solve my problem with a crappy workbench until my budget allows me to get the vises I want for building my own. Thanks for showing us how to make them.

    I just bought the threadbox and tap at Highland Hardware. They have had a run on them since the blog came out. They had only two left.

    I too have a question about what species you recommend for the screws and what to avoid. I assume ash or maple for the other parts?

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