Shop-made Saw Vise

1-0815sawviseCombine wood, leather and steel for a new take on an old tool.

by Jason Thigpen
page 29

If you sharpen your own saws, a proper saw vise is an essential tool. The jaws on a saw vise clamp down tightly on the saw plate, holding it securely as you file each tooth. A well-built saw vise will absorb vibration and chatter, resulting in faster filing, longer file life and better results.

There are a handful of new vises in production today and vintage versions are plentiful. Vintage versions are great, but damage and wear can pose problems. The clamping mechanisms on a lot of old vises are a weak spot, either broken or worn past the point of use.

After months of searching for a well-made unit that wouldn’t require a lot of rehab, I began to design my own saw vise. The result is a vise that not only has a classic look, it is a workhorse that has greatly surpassed the performance of any other vise I’ve tried, new or old.

All you need to make it are a few off-the-shelf components and a weekend. You can use any hardwood you like, provided it’s straight-grained rift-sawn or quartersawn material. For this vise, I used some hard maple and white oak scraps.

This shop-made saw vise excels due to a few key features that all work together. The heart of the system is the 5⁄8″, eight threads-per-inch Acme-threaded screw and wing nut. Acme thread is capable of applying a great deal of force, and the threads won’t gall, strip or weaken over time.

Web site: Visit Jason Thigpen’s Texas Heritage Woodworks web site for high-quality tools rolls, shop aprons and more.
Free Model: Download a free SketchUp model of this project.
Article: “Saw Filing – A Beginner’s Primer,” free at
To Buy: “Super-tune Your Backsaw with Matt Cianci,” available as DVD or download.
In Our Store: “Handsaw Essentials,” by Christopher Schwarz, in hardcover or PDF download.

From the August 2015 issue

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