I decided to finally add a proper woodworking vise to my arsenal of tools. I choose a Moxon Vise for it versatility and relatively low cost. I picked up a kit for this vise from Benchcrafted and for what you get, the price was acceptable. The downside to living in Canada is that sometimes tracking down hardware at a reasonable price can be challenging. There are other options available to you if you'd like to save a few dollars and don't mind digging around online.
I urge you to check out the build video to see the whole thing come together. Links to all the products I used in this build can be found in the video description.
Step 1: Material Prep
For a sufficiently stiff vise, you'll want to make sure your material is 1.5" - 1.75" thick. I decide to glue up multiple boards for my vise. This not only added a pleasant visual design, it also should help to hold its shape better and costs significantly less than solid wood. Once the pieces were glued, I trimmed the edges down to final dimension.
Step 2: Cutting Corners and Drilling Holes
I used printed templates of my own design to help with layout. I made the inside corners on the fixed jaw by drilling a 2" hole and then connected the dots on the bandsaw. I sanded all the cut edges smooth before moving back to the drill press to drill the holes for the threaded rods. I began by drilling a larger hole to the exact depth of the nut that will be set into the wood, then drilled a through hole that the threaded rod will pass through. All the exact measurements and details can be found on my website.
Step 3: It's Not As Hard As It Looks...
I marked the location for the nuts with a marking knife and began chiseling the excess material away. This isn't as difficult as it looks. Sharp chisels and patients are a must! Once I had the nuts fitting tight and flush, I transferred the hole location to the movable jaw by lining up the two pieces and drilling directly through the fixed jaw. I then offset the movable jaw 1/8" in either direction and use the drill to elongate the holes. This allows the movable jaw to rack side to side without binding so tapered pieces can be clamped.
Step 4: Time to Pull Out the Router!
I used my router table to create a rather large rabbet so the table top of the vise will interlock with the fixed jaw. I took a few light passes and cleaned up the corners with some sharp chisels. After test fitting the table top into to fixed jaw, I marked the location for two dados for the support legs under the table top. Using a very simple jig and my trim router, I lined everything up and made my cuts. The dados on the fixed jaw were all cut all the way through, the dados on the table top were cut short and squared with some light chisel work.
Step 5: Glue Up
I glued and clamped the table top to the fixed jaw together, checked for square and then glued in the support legs. I didn't clamp the support legs since the fit inside the dado was tight and I didn't want to risk throwing it out of square.
Step 6: Attaching Leather to the Movable Jaw
I used Titebond III glue to attach a piece of leather to the inside of the movable jaw. Titebond III is a PVA glue which is slightly flexible when dried. It's a great choice for gluing leather to wood. I placed a scrap piece of plywood over the leather, clamped it all around and left it overnight. The next morning I used a sharp knife to trim the excess material off and cut out the elongated holes.
Step 7: Finish and Assembly
Everything was sanded to 220 prior to assembly so finish prep was minimal. I gave all pieces of the vise 3 coats of Tung Oil for protection before final assembly. Assembly is straight forward and it's nice to see the whole thing come together at last!
Step 8: Testing
I decided to test the vise by cutting a dovetail onto some scrap walnut. Dovetails have always been a pain for me since clamping them properly was always difficult. Now they are a breeze!
I urge you to check out the build video to see the whole thing come together. Links to all the products I used in this build can be found in the video description. Detailed plans can be found on my website.