WT190 – We All Have Vices?

On today’s show, we’re talking about workbench vises.

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This single-topic episode was inspired by a question from Kristofer:

“I inherited a some tools from my father and what started out as a cheap way to build an entertainment center (I mean really, who wants to pay $300+ for an MDF entertainment center!) has now turned into a fun and fulfilling hobby. The main thing friends and even some customers ask for are birds which I use an old metal basic shop vice to make, however my vice has seen better days and I’m now looking to replace it. I’ve done some research and I think my favorite is a leg vice, but bench crafted has them for sale for upwards of $190 and that’s just for the hardware. Do you guys know of a cheaper alternative or do you have a favorite type of vice?”

– Shannon mentioned this v-notch batten.
Moxon Vise
Veritas Twin Screw Vise
Workbenches by Chris Schwarz

12 replies on “WT190 – We All Have Vices?”

Hey Guys,

Thanks for the insight. I probably should have been a little more specific, but clearly by the typo my email was a quick one off “I wonder if they have anything (productive) to say on this” thought. While carvings are fun, I am definitely getting into larger stuff as my wife is a teacher and has already asked for a display style bookshelf (probably so I can choose which book I want to read before bed) before the school year starts among some other larger projects that friends have either hinted at or asked for directly. I’m definitely a fan of the leg vice for edge jointing, but really hadn’t thought much of the tail vice before it was mentioned in the show. It looks like the combination of the two would be really helpful, but it’s definitely something I will have to build towards as the shop grows. Thanks again for the insight and love the shows!



I love my Moxon, but a cheaper alternative was described in an April 2005 Fine Woodworking article by Jeff Miller titled a Benchtop Bench. Miller uses veneer screws to make the vise.

I built my Roubo along with Marc and used the Benchcrafted vises. I find I use the wagon and the leg vise about equally. Since the wagon vise is what I use to hold the Moxon, I may end up using the wagon more – the Moxon is a new addition.

Mornin’ guys,
thanks for the great work: Concerning vise screws I have had great success with an old ash wine press screw I bought from ebay for about 30$. While I am from and live in Germany, I guess this might be an option for many listeneres elsewhere as well [I can’t seem to find any right now, but a few months back they were plentiful… maybe this stuff has seasons…]. I fashioned the screw into a big ol’ leg vise. In these old screws there is often a bit of slack but in my opinion it hardly influences performance. At least not enough to justify the cash for a fancy new screw should you want to go with wood.
thanks for many great shows!
Philip from Heidelberg

During your bit of snobbery about metal quick-release vices, are you talking about these kinds of things?


I’m not exactly sure what variety of vice you’re talking about since you don’t give any specific examples, but I have two heavy ~50-year-old vices of that style on my bench, one setup on the face of my bench and one on the end. Both will hold a workpiece so securely that I literally can hang on it without any movement. Shannon says that they slip all the time, but that’s never been my experience. Perhaps he has used flimsy ones, incorrectly-installed ones, or broken ones.

People always talk about how much more a leg vice can cinch down on something, but I can’t picture wanting more clamping pressure out of a vice. There are other features of a leg vice that are nice and useful, but you can’t tell me that you need more clamping pressure than that provided by a well-made metal vice of the style I linked above.

I’m also really enjoying this style vice a la the bench Paul Sellers pushes. It, combined with dog holes has left me very satisfied with my holding options. The vice is very secure and like was mentioned in the podcast there’s alternative holding approaches that you can use in place of a tail vice.

Mine’s very secure, it’s the medium one LV sells:


Really enjoyed this show, took me back in time. Marc & Shannon started me in woodworking. I joined the Guild when the Chest of Drawers started and asked Marc for help because I was in an apartment & couldn’t use power tools. He sent me to Shannon & I joined the HTS (probably in the first 200 members) as this was the only way to do wood working where I was. How does this relate to today’s show? I had to build a bench I could use in the apartment. I bought “Workbenches”, did the clamping evaluation Shannon talked about, and realized I could not afford to do what I wanted (his workbench :)) I built a 4 ft x 2 ft bench I could knock down to move, with multiple rows of dog holes (3″ thick top). I used a dog and a Wonder Dog to clamp stock on edge. I was using the same setup to clamp stock flat and ended up having the same problem as Shannon; unclamp to check the progress every 5-10 passes of your plane and with the Wonder Dog it was a pain. I quickly realized that a dog at the end of the stock and a couple along the side solved all my problems; I knew why I had put multiple rows of dog holes in, planing battens. Smart or lucky? Who cares, it works great!
Garth S

My first Moxon was made using two F clamps and some scrap plywood. You can make one where you disassemble the clamps and slip them through the back and front moxon faces. You can also just cut a out the side and slide the clamps in and out. Great way to beta test that style vice before committing to something more expensive. Then you just glue some plywood perpendicular to the back and clamp it down to your bench.

Great topic!
But I wish i had a pause button for Shannon! Marc & Matt hardly had a chance to talk. and i wasn’t aware he was the vice expert of the universe(sarcasm).
I absolutely love this show and this comment is not directed at woodtalk but Shannon i think he’s become a little to big for his britches. Marc & Matt you guys rock & Im excited for every episode.
P.S Ive talked to other people that watch the show and they feel the same way about Shannon. Also not just this episode

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