I try to stay abreast of the world of workbenches and workholding. But sometimes a place like Evans Wood Screw Co. escapes my eye.
For six years, this Franklin, Ind., enterprise has been cranking out wooden vise screws for workbench builders. You can find the company at TheTraditionalCarpenter.com. The small site offers a good selection of free plans and instructions for incorporating wooden screws into a workbench.
There are plans for a traditional face vise, tail vise, wagon vise, leg vise, twin screw and others. Even if you don’t buy one of their wooden screws, the plans offer a lot of good ideas for how you could adapt a vintage wood screw into your workbench.
I got to chat with Matthew and Micaela Evans during Woodworking in America’s Midwest show. Matthew was showing a variety of vise screws, including some with custom-turned hubs. Matthew said he’s happy to do a custom hub if you are trying to match an old-school design on a workbench – vintage workbenches tend to have far more elaborate hubs than what you see today.
It’s actually remarkable that we now have (at least) three companies to choose from when shopping for a threaded wooden vise screw. When I built my first bench with wooden screws, the Holtzapffel, I bought my screws from some guy who bought them a decade earlier at some California flea market. And I was happy to get them, even though their quality isn’t even close to what you can buy today.
All three of these wooden screw companies are small family-run shops that turn out products that haven’t been on the market for almost a century. So if a workbench is in your future, consider a wooden screw. They are fast, beautiful and durable. I love the one I have on the Roubo bench I built for my daughter.
— Christopher Schwarz
If you are looking for a design for a workbench, you might want to check out “The Workbench Design Book” available through ShopWoodworking.com. It’s a huge American-made book that has several plans for benches incorporating wooden vise screws.