My Soon-to-be-nice Wagon Vise - Popular Woodworking Magazine

My Soon-to-be-nice Wagon Vise

 In Chris Schwarz Blog, Schwarz on Workbenches, Woodworking Blogs

This week my pesky highly rewarding day job has been interfering with the installation of my new Benchcrafted wagon vise. Our February 2009 issue of Popular Woodworking is riddled with typos (or it is written in Pig Latin). So Managing Editor Megan Fitzpatrick and I have been cleaning up our poor verbiage this week while the real work has sat dormant in the shop.

Here’s a quick update: On Monday I did nothing in the shop. On Tuesday I got my Ashley Iles 1/2″ mortising chisel off the rack and hacked out the rest of the cavity on the underside. This was the biggest “mortise” I’ve ever chopped: 3″ deep, 4″ wide and 4″ long. Then I used a jigsaw to remove the rest of the waste topside, which lengthened the slot for the vise’s sliding dog block.

Finally, I took my chisel plane (Yea! Another use for the chisel plane!) and trued up the slot. The chisel plane worked brilliantly. I pressed its sole against the existing slot and it trimmed the newly cut areas flush.

Today I worked on the bench’s new end cap. This was boring. A lot of boring. About 12 holes that all had to be spot-on to accommodate the Benchcrafted vise, plus the four enormous lag bolts that attach the end cap. Luckily, it was a snap.

Right as I was about to leave work today, I installed the vise screw and bolted it to the end cap. Then I turned the bench over to start the installation of the last metal bits. I couldn’t help it. I gave the wagon wheel a spin. Whizzzz. The vise moved like a water moccasin through the bog.

I belted out an uncharacteristic “Yee-haw” and headed home.

– Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 7 comments
  • steve moore


    I’m plotting to build a Roubo as my first bench. I am a hobbyist, and though not a total noob I’m not far from it either.

    My struggle is if I really need the added functionality vs the added complexity of adding this wagon vise.

    My options:
    1) add it from the beginning (concerned about the complexity, location of holes, location of legs interfering)
    2) retro-fit as you did (concerned about the same things as #1)
    3) Do without.

    As a hobbyist, do I really need this functionality?

    Now, I know that you cant answer that for me. Nor can you come here and help me build my bench (or wait a minute…)

    But what’s the complexity tradeoff for functionality gain that you might estimate the 3 options above as I process this design option?



  • Christopher Schwarz


    I prefer round holes because you can easily add them anywhere you need to on your bench. Plus, they are compatible with holdfasts and a wide array of other bench hardware from Lee Valley.

    If you do go with square dogs, I find the best way to cut them is with a custom router template.

    And in general, it is best to get your row of dog holes up as close tot he front of the bench as possible if you ever think you will use plow planes, rabbet planes or other fences planes. That allows you to hang the work (and the fence) off the front of the bench.

    Good luck with your bench!


  • Jim

    I’m ready to start building my table top and I have a couple of questions.
    1. dog hole, square or round?
    2. if square do you have a procedure on how to cut them?
    3. should you mount the dog holes in the second or third board from the face?

    I’m excited to get started now, will be an awesome bench.

    Thanks for all you’ve done in presenting the details on this bench including your book!


  • Mike Lingenfelter

    Don’t you hate it when your real job gets in the way of your passion? Work has been so busy lately, I’ve hardly had time to surf my favorite woodworking sites during the day :).


  • Christopher Schwarz


    Absolutely. My hardware is modified to accommodate my existing dog holes. The stock hardware allows you to push the dog holes right up against the front edge of the bench.


  • Samson

    Does the Wagon Vise design require it to be mounted this far inboard? In other words, could it be mounted so the row of dog holes it was aligned with were 2" from the edge fo the bench? – like those with a traditional tail vise? I ask because I find in my working methods I am routinely thankful that I can clamp narrowish boards to the top of my bench with the tail vise such that the edge of the board to be worked is clear of the front of the bench – i.e., overhangs. Among other things, the overhang allows clearance for fences on plows, grooving planes, router planes, molding planes, etc.

    Anyway, that sure is a PRETTY piece of hardware.



  • Larry Gray

    Gee, thanks, Schwarz. For the Roubo I’m building, I’d already purchased a shoulder vise screw for its wagon vise (similar to that on the Woodsmith European bench) before discovering the Benchcrafted vise. I’ve been manfully trying to resist ordering one of those lovelies ever since.

    Reading this really helps, ya know? It really helps a lot.

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