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Take one leg vise. Rotate it 90°. Now you have a Basque face vise.

Woodworker Matt Talley is working in France right now. And during his free time he is hunting down workbenches in the Southern France/Basque region. He’s posted photos of some of his interesting finds at his web site here.

I’ve been poring over his photos and found lots of interesting details (the bolted-on dog strip, for one) that I’ll write about at a later date. But for this post, I want to focus on the face vise.

Talley asked one of the local “old guys” about the unusual vises and he responded it was a common feature of benches in the region. But how do they work?

Tally says he’s seen three mechanisms for applying pressure to the right of the screw, which is the working area of the vise.


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