3 Classic Vises made with Pipe Clamps
on a budget.
By Chad Stanton
As a professional woodworker,
leaving the comfort of my
shop to work on a jobsite is part
of the routine. I always take along
a portable bench that’s equipped
with three inexpensive vises made
with pipe clamps. They’re durable
and simple to operate. To build
them, all you need is some plywood
and construction lumber. Almost
any brand of pipe clamp will work.
These vises can also be adapted to
fit a larger, stationary bench, too.
Click any image to view a larger version.
Moxon vise. The Moxon vise is essentially a face vise
This is the simplest and most-used vise of the three. You can
Cut the jaw’s pieces (A) slightly oversize, so you can true up
To drill the vise’s holes, temporarily screw or nail the mounting
Use a drill press to drill the holes for the pipe and guide rod
To mount the vise to your bench, clamp the mounting
With the clamp’s sliding head removed, insert the pipe and
To adjust the vise, reach to the back of the mounting block
Fig. A: Exploded View
Fig. B: Pipe and Guide Rod Locations
Squeeze the pipe clamp’s clutch plates to adjust the jaw in
Like the face vise, first glue up the jaw (A) and faceplate
Mark and drill the jaw’s pipe hole using a drill press. Also
Clamp the jaw in position to your bench’s end. Using the
Use a hand drill to make the pipe hole through the bench’s
Drill the adjustment holes in the pin board (Fig. D).
Drill screw holes in the clamp heads. Insert the pipe into
Drill the dog hole in the jaw’s top, and a series of holes in
Use the adjustment pin (E) to set the vise’s opening according
I used a 16" pipe for this vise. Like the face vise, reach under
Fig. C: Exploded View
Fig. D: Guide Board Hole Pattern
Insert the adjustment pin in the hole that gives you the
Named after 17th-century woodworker and author
Another benefit of the Moxon vise is its height. It
Unlike the other vises, I used 1/2" instead of 3/4" pipe
A good vise must be extremely stable. I made this one
To build the vise, glue up the front jaw pieces (A)
Glue and screw the outer and inner sides (E and F) in
Mark and drill the front jaw holes using a drill press
Next, cut out the levers (K, Fig. E) and handle (L).
After the glue dries, slide the guide blocks onto the dowels
Before attaching the bottom, assemble the vise as
Install the push bar retainers (P) and test the handle’s operation.
Fig. E: Lever
Fig. F: Guide Block End Hole
Fig. G: Exploded View
Fig. H: Push Bar End Taper
Pull the handle towards you to release the clutch plates for
This story originally appeared in American Woodworker August/September 2013, issue #167.