Reinventing the Wheel or the Moxon Vise at Least

One thing about the online woodworking community you notice after being around awhile are trends.  Projects, tools, and techniques tend come in waves, and the current wave washing up is all about benches and vices.  With the split top Roubo bench build coming soon in The Wood Whisperer Guild build and many other article around the web talking about benches it seems to be on everyones mind.

Spit Top Roubo w/ Woodcrafted Hrdw

I have spoke about my own bench many times and one of my biggest complaints is my vise.  It is a single screw that is way too loose and difficult to give even pressure on the work piece.  The Moxon vise is a great vise to help in these areas and it lifts the work up higher for finer details without the back strain.

Moxon Vise by Chris Schwarz

There are several methods that seem to be popular right now.  You can order the hardware from Benchcrafted or even the complete vise.  I will not argue with anyone, the Benchrafted hardware is awesome, but it is also pricey.  Another option is Chris Schwarz version in Popular Woodworking using threaded wooden rod.  It a great vise but personally I am still not sure how I feel about longterm use of a threaded wood rod.

I like the idea of the metal rod but didn’t want to fork over the extra, so I decided to come up with my own version.  I had the 8/4 Maple and a small block of Wenge left over from the last hand plane build, so all I need was hardware.  After stopping by Home Depot I found what I needed and for cheap.  I picked up one 3/4″ stainless steel threaded rod, six 3/4″ hex nuts, and four washers….that’s all I needed.

For the front and back of the vise I ripped the 8/4 Maple to 6″ wide and cut them to length to fit the end of my bench.  I cut a notch on each side of the back board to allow clamping to the bench without the clamps sticking about the work surface.  I then cut the face board to match the length inside of the notch.

After cutting the threaded rod down to two 9″ pieces, I drilled a 3/4″ hole though the back board with a countersunk hole on the inside so the the nuts and washers will be flush on the inside.  In the face board I drilled the holes slightly oversized to make sure the face slides easily over the rods.

Now for the most time consuming part of this build but definitely my favorite part…the handles.  The ideas was to have the round handles similar to the benchcrafted but using wood and a nut.  I wanted to ensure that the nut did not slip or have a chance of falling out of the handle so I decided to put the nut inside.  I split the 8/4 block giving me the two halves.  Next, I drilled a 3/4″ hole through each piece, slipped the rod though with a nut on it and marked were the pocket for the nut would be.  The majority of the waste in the pocket was drilled out with a foster bit and the rest chiseled out.

With the pocket cut into place the two halves are glued together so that the nut is secured in the middle with no worries of movement.  To finish off the handles I trimmed the circles sanded the edges smooth and used a 1/2″ round over bit in my router to make the handles more comfortable.  A great technique for securing the handle while routing is to push the treaded rod up through a dog hole with a nut secured to the bottom, now to secure the work just screw the handle down onto the rod.  I also, drilled 5 evenly spaced holes around the face for added holding if needed.

With the Moxon vise completed, I couldn’t be happier with the result.  The wheels spin freely and really secure the vise to my work.  I can already see that this vise will probably stay on my bench most of the time.  The only modifications that I am considering at this point would be to install a crank type handle into one of the wheel holes for added torque and I am also considering adding a nylon washer behind the  wheel.

This was a fun project to build and for very little money.


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7 Responses to “Reinventing the Wheel or the Moxon Vise at Least”

  1. Brent
    January 20, 2012 at 7:38 am #

    I love the fast adjustment this style offers, but I am a clumsy bastard sometimes (I mean most of the time) and I know I would snag myself on those screws. Since it is on top of the bench anyway, maybe I can flip it around and have the tail of the vice hang off of the bench. Then just push in the tail, reach around to give the wheels a flick and crank em down.

  2. Chris Adkins
    October 30, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    Great looking Vise you have too Rob. The rods have not seemed to get in the way yet but I really have not had the chance to put it to the test. Chris Schwarz's version had 3 1/2" clearance between the faces so I decided to take this suggestion. Right now I can get around 4" stock but really think this is just over kill. 8/4 stock will probably be the thickest I will ever clamp. I could back the bolts out the back without cutting them off so that I have the adjustment if ever needed?

    Thanks Vic, the handles turned out great but like most of us I am always seeing modifications that I would like to make. I was actually more concerned about the clamps sticking up about the working surface but as above I may adjust them back if I feel they are getting in the way.

  3. Vic Hubbard
    October 30, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

    Love the handles, Chris. I echo Rob's concern. I can just see me catching a rib on one of those. I look forward to seeing it in action. Maybe that wont seem a concern in actual practice. I'm a klutz, though.

  4. Rob Porcaro
    October 30, 2011 at 4:02 am #


    Nice job.

    I wonder if the rough metal rods protruding from the front side of the vise tend to get in the way while working.

    I wrote about the version of the Moxon vise that I made earlier this year, using 1/2" carriage bolts, bronze bushings, coupling nuts, and shop-made wooden handles:

    Thanks for the interesting blog.

    Rob Porcaro

  5. Dyami Plotke
    October 29, 2011 at 8:28 pm #

    Great point, Chris. Thanks.

  6. Chris Adkins
    October 29, 2011 at 8:07 pm #

    Thanks Dyami. I think the advantage is that with the rods fixed to the back I can just push the front board against the wood, give the wheels a quick spin and it is secure. I am not sure the wheel would work as well if fixed to the rod. I will post a video of the build as soon as I can finish getting it edited and you can see how easily it adjusted, very similar to the Benchcrafted.

  7. Dyami Plotke
    October 29, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

    Nice take on the Moxon, Chris. I really like your wheels. Any advantage to have the threaded rod fixed to the back vs. the handles?

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