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.