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When I built a Moxon double-screw vise last year for sawing and other chores, I tried to keep it as simple and close to the 17th-century original as I could. After building two prototypes, I made it even simpler and easy to build by using 8/4 stock instead of some uber-thick wood.

But woodworkers, being who they are, love to complicate things. And the Moxon vise has been no exception.

I’ve seen pictures of people who have built it so the vise drop and locks into a dedicated spot on the bench. Other woodworkers have actually incorporated it into their benches as a twin-screw vise. But the most common modification is to add a platform behind the jaws to support your work as you transfer the shape of your tails onto your pin board.

Check out Andy Brownell’s version of the vise with this modification. It’s sweet.

I haven’t built a version of the vise with this modification. Nor do I plan to. Why? I’m a simpleton who has very limited shop space.

Instead, I made the block shown in the photo of the top of this entry. I’m selling it on my personal web site for three easy payments of $39.99. The key feature of the block is not the routed-out “T” shape. Nor is it the notch in the top. Instead, it’s the fact that the block is 7” long.

Why 7”? That’s the measurement of the width of the jaws plus the width of my block plane. So when I position my pin board in the vise, I flush up the top of it with the sidewall of my block plane on its side, thusly:

Then I remove the block plane and shift the 7” block of wood (patent pending) into place. Then I drop the tail board on top of the block and the pin board. Done. This 7” block is an old 2×4 and is more than enough support to balance even a 24”-wide case side.

When I am done marking the pins, I remove the tailboard and I’m ready to saw. I don’t need to re-adjust the pin board up for sawing.

I’m not knocking the mini-bench people – I know that they can do a lot of extra stuff on that bench on top of a bench. But I don’t need it and this is how I get around it, simply.

— Christopher Schwarz

The plans for the Moxon vise are featured in the December 2010 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine, which is available in ShopWoodworking.

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Showing 19 comments
  • KC Kevin

    I can’t help but notice that the routed T in your block looks just like the long stretchers on my knockdown Holtzapffel work bench. Are you repurposing jig experiments? Just wondering.

  • wtpacker


    Is this piece available in a left-hand version?


  • allenworb

    I just noticed the mention above about my benchtop bench modification. Thanks!
    Needless to say, it’s heavy. I plan on creating a location to store it on my split-top roubo shelf someday soon. Hopefully I won’t drop it on my foot.

    I have found that this vise is great for elevating the work as well. I mark out the pins first, and usually put the top of the board just below my chin to mark things out without leaning over. Jeff Miller taught me the value of elevating the work. It’s those basic body ergonomics and motion around woodworking that few people teach, and is the root cause of bad technique.

    Hmmm…somebody should write a book about that, don’t you think?

  • zephyrblevins

    It is interesting to watch as these alternative approaches evolve. Haven’t made mine yet, but plan to do so soon. Just curious why no one has (yet) extended the fixed (rear) jaw or chop down below the benchtop surface to serve as a bench hook. Wouldn’t that aid in clamping and result in more stable work holding?

  • Steve

    Great! There goes the price of 7″ precuts on Ebay.

  • JWatriss

    And here I figured you’d have finally found a use for those little Japanese sawhorses you used to keep under your bench…

    Oh, well…

  • John J

    What! No cut-list? Gulp.
    Oh the horror.

  • GregMiller

    Chris, would you consider making a wider range of these supports for sale, as my blockplane is an old Stanley 9 1/2 which is much narrower. It would not be helpful for marking the pins if the supported tailboards are on an angle.

    Of course, you could also do a deal with Benchcrafted, who could develop a support with a nice handwheel which enables the height of the support to be varied with the spin of the wheel.

    I offer this suggestion with no strings attached, and no intent to seek financial gain from the intellectual property inherent in my suggestion.

    All the best with this new commercial venture for 2012!

    Regards, Greg (also in Perth, Western Australia)

  • Jason

    Needs a laser.

  • Derek Cohen

    Hi Chris

    I designed something equally simple, but offering more support and wider range of uses. I posted this on my website in February last year. Called it the “I-beam”.

    I would not add a platform if these are built at the same height as the vise – when you transfer tails to pins, the marking knife will cut into the top of the vise, Soon it will be destroyed. Far better to raise the work up above the vise so that the transfer does no damage.

    Best wishes for New Year.

    Regards from Perth


  • Kenny

    Chris, would you consider 6 easy payments at 19.99? Thanks for the tip.

  • maxt3

    Why choose? Here’s a photo of my Moxon with a third piece on the rear that is ready to accept a top. If and when I add it, it will probably just have a couple of dowels in the bottom of the top that will slide into this piece. It will be removable, or course. At this stage, I’m not sure I ever will add a top, since the convenience of the Moxon without it is unmatched.

  • Dean

    Also, check out Paul-Marcel’s Moxon kit build with added platform.

  • Steve_OH

    Can we get a cutlist?

    Also, it would be useful if you could post a SketchUp model that shows the proper overall dimensions and the shape of the routed slot.


  • mlingenfelter

    I built a mini-bench awhile ago and it worked great, but it was a pain to store. When the Moxon vise came along, I knew it would do the same thing as the mini-bench, but be easier to store. I liked having the benchtop for transferring dovetails, but knew if I added a permanent platform to the Moxon vise, I would just have a larger mini-bench! I thought about adding a smaller detectable platform, to use during dovetailing, but your approach is even better!!


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