Introduction: Homemade Bench Oak Carvers Vice (Vise)

Picture of Homemade Bench Oak Carvers Vice (Vise)

Ever since I set up the workshop, the missus (Grace) has found herself at home in there. This was no more apparent than when she discovered she had a taste for carving. All of a sudden my metalwork bench was awash with wood chips! And the reason for this gross indiscretion? Mechanic’s vices are rather handy for carving. Indeed, this is what many carvers use. But handy for me it certainly was not; the wood chips all over my surface plate were rather cramping my style. The solution was to make Grace a traditional carving vice. This would allow Grace to carve in style while keeping my mechanic’s vice blissfully free of woody matter.

The design is based very loosely on drawings published by Benchcrafted, which in turn were based on a vintage model. I started with some oak for the main construction. This started life as an oak sleeper, and at some point was ripped down into a 4×4 post:

Step 1: The Main Body of the Vice

Picture of The Main Body of the Vice

I started with some oak for the main construction. This started life as an oak sleeper, and at some point was ripped down into a 4×4 post:

The oak was ripped to size and planed flat and square:

Step 2: The Jaws

Picture of The Jaws

Next I shaped the top of the front jaw and bored the 1″ hole for the
vice screw. The rear jaw was shaped and bored at the same time. Then I was ready to cut the massive dovetails that join the base to the front jaw. I cut these by hand, but in hindsight the bandsaw would have been the quicker option!

Grooves were ploughed down either side of the base to act as runners for
the rear jaw reinforcement brackets. The brackets will add some strength to the rear jaw, but are mainly there to capture the jaw to the base. A tee-shaped slot was mortised into the base using two forstner bits then tidying up with a chisel. The top part of the tee houses the top of the hold-down bolt.

Step 3: The Shaft

Picture of The Shaft

Now for the fun bit; making the 1″ shaft for the vice screw on my trusty Myford ML4. First to face off the rough-sawn end of the shaft:

(I can assure you the Dr Pepper cans are only there because I needed some shims, honest!)
Then some relief diameters were turned down on either end of what was to become the threaded portion of the screw, and the screwcutting began:

A perpendicular hole was drilled through the end for the tommy bar. No pics of the tommy bar being made; the ends are simply threaded on to the bar:

(not in the photo is the groove to accept the garter. That came later as I didn’t have the steel at the time)

Step 4: Hold Down Shaft

Picture of Hold Down Shaft

The vice needs a bolt to hold it down to the bench. Naturally this bolt has to be rather hefty (3/4″ in this case), and it has to have a square head in order to be trapped by a housing in the base of the vice. The bolt head was milled down from some steel bar using a home-made flycutter:

The main part of the bolt was screwcut and attached to the bolt head:

Step 5: The Garter

Picture of The Garter

Eventually I managed to pinch some steel for the garter from the local
blacksmith. I drilled out the mounting screw holes on my bench drill, but the centre hole had to be bored out on the lathe:

The garter had to be cut into two halves to fit around and capture the
vice screw. I could have did this by hand, but it would be a lot tidier (and easier on my feeble arms!) to once again use the ML4:

Step 6: Assembly

Picture of Assembly

Finally the vice could be assembled. A strip of steel was added down each side of the base as reinforcement and to prevent the side brackets from wearing away the grooves. The side brackets were made from some steel sheet I had lying about. I’m not very happy with the brackets, I think they need to be bigger. Maybe I’ll come back to those….

Step 7:


Yonatan24 (author)2016-02-04

Wow! What a beautiful ​Vise!
WARNING: Do not make your vise look too good, You won't use it because you don't want to ruin it!

andrea biffi (author)2015-01-27

beautiful! I love it!

FN64 (author)2014-12-07

That's a nice piece of work. Consider posting it on the forum. I'm sure the gang would love to see it!

That's a work of art. Received my vote.

rjohnson65 (author)2014-11-19

It is Always great to watch a craftsman doing what (s)he loves best to do...

It Is a mirror of the mind.

rjohnson65 (author)2014-11-18

Vice.. or Vise..

Mostly Vices are to be shunned.. But Vises are for making great work..

Wiki Vic/se...

Exceptionally Great Job all but for the improper name..

I'd Never talk about my vices..

But I'd buy an older Craftsman Drill Vise in a heartbeat.., were the price right and proudly share my Vice for good tools.


klixtopher (author)rjohnson652014-11-19

From Wikipedia:

A vise (American English) or vice (British English)
is a mechanical apparatus used to secure an object to allow work to be
performed on it. Vises have two parallel jaws, one fixed and the other
movable, threaded in and out by a screw and lever. (My Webster's agrees.)

rjohnson65 (author)klixtopher2014-11-19


rjohnson65 (author)klixtopher2014-11-19


rjohnson65 (author)2014-11-19

klixtopher (author)2014-11-19

Very nice work! Quality craftsmanship.

CliftonSears (author)2014-11-18

Very well done.

zkeršič (author)2014-11-18

Very nicely done.

Such, would like everyone in the workshop.

tjk1939 (author)2014-11-18

Excellent work. Too bad my lathe is not large enough to turn & thread the shaft, I might consider building one.

acoleman3 (author)2014-11-18

nice work....and how thoughtful of you.

Fikjast Scott (author)2014-11-17

wow, fantastic - it is nice to see all your pictures; they really shows your dual crafting metal and wood.

Great job, thanks for posting

PowellMade (author)2014-11-16

Absolutely beautiful piece!! Wish I know how to use a lathe like you. Good instructable.

acheide (author)2014-11-16

Very nice build. I think Shopnotes Magazine did something like this as well.


GraceB4 (author)acheide2014-11-16

I will have to have a look into that. The vice is based on a vice sold by Benchcrafted for $439 . Our one only cost us just under £50 all in, although we did have the oak already at hand.

MsSweetSatisfaction (author)2014-11-16

Very nice vice, it looks awesome! Please do another instructable if you decide to mod those brackets!

Thank you. I can't see us modding the brackets for sometime. I have been using the vice for nearly year and it hasn't failed me yet. I shall hopefully be adding a few more photos to the instructable as there are not any photos of the finished bolt that threads through the vice so it can be mounted to the bench. Also need to add that I have found the addition of a gluing some 40 grit sandpaper to the jaws really helpful for gripping my work much better than just the oak's surface.

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