Mini Vise in Minutes





Introduction: Mini Vise in Minutes

About: Chip's Wood Shop is all about rewarding and enjoyable woodworking projects and ''use what you have''solutions to make all kinds of fun and useful things. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Asso...

This simple tool is very handy for holding small parts for cutting on the CNC router. I also find it useful for drilling holes and other jobs where I need to hold a small part in place. I made mine from materials I had lying around the garage. I was very easy to make, basically cost me nothing, and was well worth the effort.

This vise was featured in my last instructable on CNC Engraving.

Step 1: Materials

Plywood base

Hardwood jaws

Long machine screws

Square nuts

The thickness of the jaws is basically the width of the square nut. Otherwise the sizes of these parts is up to you based on what you want to hold and what materials you have available. For example, Imade my jaws from scrap poplar, approx 8mm x 10mm x 100mm (5/16"x3/8"x4"). My plywood base is about 16mm (5/8") thick and 100mm x 300mm (4"x12"). My machine screws are 10-24 because that is what I have on hand. This is close to M5 x 0.8 in size.

Step 2: Drill Some Holes

Drill two holes through each jaw, through the narrowest face, one near each end. Make sure the holes are in the same places on both jaws so they line up. You should be able to pass the machine screws through both holes of both jaws simultaneously without binding. The diameter of the drill bit should be slightly larger than the screw thread (major) diameter. In my case, I used 13/64".

Then I pre-drilled holes in the side for wood screws. I more or less centered the screws on the top face of the jaw and spaced them evenly between the big screw holes on the side face. The size of pilot holes depends on the screws you use, roughly half the body diameter (not including the threads).

To get the lowest possible profile, I used a countersink bit to countersink the holes for the wood screw heads.

Step 3: Assemble the Parts

Screw or glue one of the jaws down to the base with the holes for machine screws oriented horizontally. If using wood scres to fasten the jaw to the base, I recommend pre-drilling the screw holes. For this, I placed the jaw where I wanted it on the base (parallel to one edge) and then used the jaws as a template to drill small holes in the base.

Align the other jaw to the first and insert the machine screws through both jaws. Thread the screws into the nuts, which will slide along the base as you tighten the screws.

Please ignore the large holes in the photos of the base. These were left over from another project and aren't essential to this one. You may very well find it useful to drill some more holes in the base depending on how you want to clamp it down.

Step 4: Send It Into Action!

Loosen the machine screws enough to place your stock between the jaws. Tighten both screws until the jaws are gripping the stock. Try to tighten the screws evenly to maintain even pressure across the jaws.

The flat base makes a convenient surface to clamp down with toe clamps or screws. It can also slide against a fence, or serve as a handheld fixture to keep your hands safely away from moving parts.

If you like this style of step-by-step instruction, please share with others and subscribe, so you'll be notified when I post more. If you have questions, please post them in the comments. I will try to answer and probably update the instructions, too. Read about more of my woodworking projects and tools at



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    14 Discussions

    I have a free 3-month pro membership for the first person to post an "I Made It!"

    I was thinking do I have any nice square nuts have I seen any at the big box hardware store?

    then I thought T nuts would work and I have a bunch of them in different sizes.. This is just what I need to hold small work pieces at the drill press because it is no fun when the bit grabs just as it punches through specially in metal.

    uncle frogy

    2 replies

    Best & cheapest supply of square nuts comes from your buddy's server room where they live as "cage nuts" (usually M6) and are used to screw all kind of gears into racks *ggg*


    1 year ago

    You should give us the positions of the holes in the plywood base(inches from ends and edges for big holes(what size those are,measurements for pilot holes for small wood screws and they're size. How long should the long machine screws be?

    1 reply

    Thanks for some good questions! I have updated the instructions in an attempt to address them.


    1 year ago

    Excellent! This is going to come in handy for chip and relief carving. Very scale-able, simple design easy to reproduce. Thank you so much.

    1 reply

    Thanks for such encouraging feedback! Please post and share if you make one.

    What is the purpose of the two big holes in the plywood base?

    1 reply

    Good question! It's kind of random because the big holes were already in the piece of scrap, but I have put fasteners through them to clamp the base down.

    That's very elegant in its simplicity, thanks for sharing!

    1 reply

    Thanks for the feedback! Please let me know if you make one.