DIY Woodworking Vise

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About: Born in Berlin in 1985, engineer, contrarian, 'The Big Bang Theory' fan, my blog: www.tinyworkshop.net - find me on Twitter @pixelgeb and reddit u/Stishio

I'm moving my workshop from the cellar into the garage to have more space. I built my own workbench and what's still missing, is a woodworking vise. There are several vise sets online, but I want to build my own one. In this Instructable you can follow all my steps and hopefully be able to build your own.

Please post all your questions and remarks in the comments below.

I hope you like it and will enjoy the instructions. Have fun :)

Step 1: Welding a Nut to a Base

I want to use a M16 threaded rod for the linear movement. Therefore I need a nut or something threaded to interact with the rod. I decided to weld a M16 nut to a flat plate connector. The flat plate connecter has already some holes to fix this part to the workbench.

Unfortunately I don't have a welder so I asked my dad to do this job for me. I gave him the two parts and you can see what I got back in the second picture :) He decided, that it would be better to use a thicker piece of metal for the base plat. So he used a thick old washer and drilled two holes in it. I'm glad he did the welding, but I think my idea with the base plate connector would have worked just as fine. Remember to drill a hole into the plate big enough to let the rod pass through.

Step 2: Welding a T-Piece, a Washer and the Rod

I want to use a T-piece pipe to hold the threaded rod and a wooden rod later. The tee has two 3/4" ends and one 1/2" end.

So back to my dad and his welder. We welded a washer to a M16 nut and then the T-piece (with the 1/2" end) to the nut. The rod can be screwed into the nut until you can see it, but make sure, that it's not blocking the way through the 3/4" ends. To fix the rod, we added a small hole through the T-piece and the rod and insert a small bolt. Now you can turn the rod by turning the T-piece.

The washer we added is very important. It will later hold the jaw of the vise and will make it move when you want to open the vise.

Be careful by welding zinc-coated material! Acrid fumes can be developed!

Step 3: First Test Run

Both parts are finished. Let's try if everything fits together. Looks very good. The difficult part is done. Now comes some woodworking.

Step 4: The Moveable Jaw

So what we need next is a moveable jaw for the vise. My dimensions are 40cm by 15cm, but you can adjust them to your needs. I use scrap wood I have laying around. I would use some kind of hard wood for the jaws, but unfortunately I don't have enough, but I use a little trick.

The core consists of three pieces of roof batten made of spruce. It's too soft in my opinion. To reinforce the surface, I use an old piece of laminate I have left over from our master bedroom flooring. The laminate is very strong and is just perfect for this job. I simply cut two pieces into the right dimensions. Now I got my laminate-spruce sandwich :)

I glue all pieces together using wood glue. After everything is dry, I reinforce the structure by applying some counter-sinked screws on both sides. But this is totally up to you. The glue should be enough I guess.

Step 5: Mounting the Rod and the Support Pipes to the Jaw

I use two 5/8" copper pipes to support the rod and to keep the jaw from rotating. They have a length of 50cm. You can adjust the length to your needs.

I don't have a drill press yet, so I use a rack for my driller to get the holes perpendicular to the surface. The hole in the middle is for the threaded rod and has to go right through the jaw. I add two more holes for the support pipes. These holes should not go right through. Therefore I use a forstner driller.

I insert the copper pipes and mark the middle to the bottom side of the jaw. I use a metal drill to drill two small holes through the wood and the copper pipe. I insert and counter-sink two screws to mount the pipes to the jaw.

Step 6: Drilling the Holes to the Workbench Jaw

This time I need three holes which go right through the workbench. I use my rack to get everything in a right angle. I finish the surface with a sander.

Step 7: Building the Flange

Remember the washer, which we welded to the T-piece? Now you'll see its purpose. I need some kind of flange, which will connect the jaw to the rod, but still loose enough to allow rotation. This allows the jaw to move with the rod while opening the vise.

I use some scrap piece of laminate and mark a wide enough square (in my vase 7cm time 7cm). I find the middle and cut out a round dent using a forstner bit (the diameter should be wider than the washer, the depth should be deeper than the thickness of the washer). The dent will later house the washer and must not go right through the laminate. I use a second smaller forstner bit to cut right through (the diameter should be smaller than the washer's and bigger the nut's diameter).

I use a handsaw to cut the piece in half so I can mount it to the jaw. I use counter-sinked screws to fix the two flange pieces to the jaw. Make sure that the rod can easily rotate.

Step 8: Mounting the Washer With the Nut to the Workbench

We are almost finished here. I have to mount the washer and the nut piece to the back of my workbench jaw. Finally I can insert the copper pipes and the rod into the holes and screw in the threaded rod. You can add some lubricant to the thread.

Step 9: Building the Handle

The last step is to build a handle. I use a 2cm wooden rod made of beech. I cut it in 40cm lengths, but feel free to adjust this to your needs. I use two rubber doorstoppers for the ends. I use a screw and a washer for each to mount it to the handle. This will avoid nasty bump accidents later on and also keeps the rod from falling through the T-piece.

Step 10: Done

Well that's it. Now I have my own workbench vise.

Congratulations, everything is done and you are hopefully a proud owner of a new vise as well :D I hope you will enjoy building this. Please let me know your experiences and improvements. Please put photos in the comments. :)

Step 11: Test Run

Ok now let's get to business. I did some minor projects with the vise. The holding power is more than enough and I'm really happy with it. I also used it to hold some smaller pieces for my router. It did a great job here, but there are some improvements I would do differently next time or I will add later:

  • I will add a stop bolt to the end of the rod, which will keep the vise from being opened to wide
  • I added hardwood to the outer jaw, but totally forgot about the workbench jaw. I'll add another piece of laminate to it
  • The threaded rod works fine, but the slope of the thread is very low. So you need a lot of turns to open the vise. Maybe I would use a higher slope next time. But this is just a convenience thing
  • I will add some bench dog holes to the vise and the workbench. This will make it easier to hold down workpieces.

Well that's it so far. If you have some advice for me, please leave them in the comments below.

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    8 Discussions

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    nickton

    27 days ago

    very nice. The only problem I have is you should have used hardwoods for maximum durability. Some maple would not have been too costly. Over time you will find these things matter in a work bench. It really gets beat up and a soft wood will not endure as much abuse.

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    StishSyncubus

    Reply 4 weeks ago

    Thx for this. I‘ve actually seen some videos from him. I could easily add this to my vise.

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    dwieland

    4 weeks ago on Step 11

    Nice project. The usual screw thread for a vise is a coarse pitch called acme thread. It's also used on adjustable piano stools.

    2 replies
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    Stishdwieland

    Reply 4 weeks ago

    Thx for the advice. I also found some one who build a vise from a base jack, which is used on scaffolding.

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    Yonatan24Stish

    Reply 4 weeks ago

    Yup, the difference is huge, here (and in the wooden vise I built) a lot of time is wasted since the vise jaw doesn't advance that much for each turn...

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    exoticboards

    Question 4 weeks ago on Step 8

    I'm curious why you chose hollow copper pipe for the horizontal sliding supports. Does the vise need to flex to work properly?

    1 answer
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    Stishexoticboards

    Answer 4 weeks ago

    Well you need some clearance for the horizontal movement due to the slop of the thread. When move the jaw you’ll see that it’s slightly misaligned to the other. But that clearance is very small and is easily achieved by the holes where the pipes go into. I used the copper pipes because they were scrap material from an old project and were laying around in my shop. I guess you could easily use different kind of pipes, hollow or solid, of different materials. Take what suites you is the cheapest.