Make a Bench Vise for Woodworking




This bench vise – sometimes called Moxon’s Vise – is inexpensive to make, portable, and works very well for holding your work pieces while sawing, chiseling, or planing. There are many designs for this vise available on the Internet; I’ll show you my version. Feel free to adjust the dimensions to suit your own needs.

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Step 1: What You Need


  1. About 16 linear feet of one by six hardwood (actual measurements ¾” x 5½”). I used birch, which looks nice and is hard/strong enough for the vise.
  2. Two hex bolts ½” by 8" to 10” long and two ½” flange nuts
  3. Wood glue, epoxy


Table Saw, Drill Press, ½” , ¾”, and 1” Forstner Bits, Sander, Clamps

Step 2: Front Jaw

Cut two 32” long pieces from the one by six board. Glue the two faces of the 32” boards together to make the front jaw of the vise. The jaw will be 32” by 5½” by 1½” thick.

Step 3: Rear Jaw

The rear jaw is L-shaped. The short ‘lip’ is used to clamp the rear jaw to your workbench. Edge-glue the 30” by 2½” board to the 36” by 5½” board as shown in the drawing, lining up the centers. I used biscuits in this joint, but you don’t need to do that if you don’t have a biscuit joiner. After the glue dries, glue on the 36” by 4¾” board and the other 30” board to complete the rear jaw.

Step 4: Drill Holes for the Hex Bolts

Drill two ½” holes through the front jaw 3” from the short edge and 2 ¼” from the top edge. Use a drill press, as the holes need to be straight through.

Line up the front and rear jaw along the top edge (match up the centers), then use the ½” Forstner bit in the front jaw holes to mark the location for the holes in the rear jaw. Be as precise as you can to avoid any binding of the screws in the finished vise. Then drill the holes through the rear jaw on your drill press.

On the backside of the rear jaw, drill shallow 1” diameter recesses around the two holes to receive the flange nuts.

Step 5: Make Handles

You could stop right here and use ½” hex bolts and washers to complete the vise and open/close it with a wrench.

I decided to make wooden handles for the hex bolt as shown in the picture. Glue together three boards with dimensions of ¾” by 2¼” by 11”. You’ll end up with a wooden stick 2¼” square. Trim this stick into an octagon. A very easy way to do this is shown in this Instructable:

Cut the octagonal stick into two 5½” pieces making sure the cuts are square. Then drill ¾” holes down the center axis 2” to 3” deep; whatever your drill press can handle. Be sure the holes are straight down the middle.

Insert the hex bolt head first into this hole, make sure the bolt is straight with the octagonal handle, fill the hole with epoxy around the bolt, and let cure. Your handles are done!

Step 6: Use Your Bench Vise

I did not use any finish on the bench vise or handles. I plan to sand it down if it needs cleaning.

Use some beeswax on the bolt threads and in the thru-holes to make turning the hand screws easier.

To use the bench vise clamp the rear jaw to the edge of your workbench, insert the work piece, and tighten the jaws.

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    22 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Very nice tutorial, I like the Moxon vise, and this is a nice way to make one, though I'm considering building this into the side of my bench as a fixed woodworking vise, instead of buying the common kind.


    3 years ago

    I really like your design for the vise! I also was wondering if 3/4" mdf would be a good alternative to some hardwood since I have a ton of sheets left over.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks. I don't see why MDF wouldn't work. The edges will be weaker/softer, and it won't look as nice (IMHO); but it should work.


    4 years ago

    I went to lowes to get supplies and the largest 1/2 hex bolt that's entirely threaded was 5 inches. Where did you get the 8 inch bolts?

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago

    I got the 8" hex bolt at either Lowes or Home Depot. It does not need to be threaded all the way. You epoxy about 2" into the wooden handle, another 1-1/2" is covered by the front jaw of the vise.

    Or you could buy threaded rod and cut it to any length you need.


    One might find individual 1/2- 13 T-nuts at the hardware store, in those drawers of misc. parts usually in the back end, up against a wall in a dimly lit area, if anything like mine. :-)

    2 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    T-Nuts would be a good choice if you can't find flange nuts. Or use a regular hex nut and cut a hexagonal hole to mount it in the rear jaw.

    Fastenal has nice 1/2 - 13 flange nuts -a bag of 10 stainless steel ones was 14 bucks. I made one of these and promptly gave it to my friend who had no vise in her shop and was hosting a dovetail class. Off to my lumberyard again! Maybe I will spring for maple this time.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Great project but it struck me? Why not adapt the jaws of the vice to fit the "Workmate" it is sitting on? Two tools in one.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    That’s a good idea, a very good option; and it wouldn’t be difficult to do. I use the bench vise on two different workbenches as well as on the ‘Workmate’; so I like the portability of the design.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice! Your CAD drawings are clean. What program are you using to make the drawings?

    1 reply

    I"ve seen a version of this made with pipe clamp hardware, which makes closing the vise quick and easy:

    2 replies

    While googling that one I also ran across this article from Popular Woodworking that has designs for a Face vise and Tail vise using pipe clamps as well. Quite slick. Making a Roubo-style leg vise would also be simple with these.

    Stupid obvious once you think about it. Harbor Freight has 1/2" ones on sale for $6 apiece right now...Hmmm...