Viseless Workholding Fixtures

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Blog entry by Alan posted 01-09-2016 07:49 PM 1879 reads 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Really, this post is for my own use, to help me remember, but I wanted it available from anywhere not buried on one hard drive in a Word document, and I thought a few other people might find it helpful also.

I’m a big believer in viseless workholding for new hand tool and hybrid woodworkers (a category I most certainly fall into), partly because vises are expensive, and partly because their convenience can become a crutch for new woodworkers and lead to bad habits.

Okay, it’s mostly because of the financial thing. I can’t afford good quality vise hardware, and I’m trying to justify my prejudice that way.

Regardless, I think it’s a worthwhile endeavor to try to assemble a complete list of all the various ways one can hold a workpiece other than vises, handscrews or clamps. The focus here is on shop-made devices that can be made fairly readily by even a novice, so I’m also leaving out screws, nails, double-sided sticky tape (thank you Shannon Rogers!) and shelf liner. Oh and the Veritas Wonder Pup/Dog, even though I think they’re the bee’s knees.

Here’s a complete list as best as I can come up with so far. Additional suggestions would be most welcome.

Bench hooks/Chute board. I think both the broad, flat kind and Underhill style are valuable.
Bench dogs. I like round and wood, but whatever works for you.
Holdfasts. I forged my own from rebar, but as The Schwarz has pointed out, a forked stick from your back yard will work too.
Notched batten/Doe’s foot
Joiner’s saddles
Crochet/Frog. I see people leaving these out of their Roubo benches all the time and I don’t understand why. Even if you have a leg vise, how quick and easy is it to stick a couple of pegs/bench dogs into the holdfast holes in your bench legs and jam a board in the crochet?
Bird’s mouth
Planing stops – metal, wood, a batten with dowels on the underside to go in your holdfast/dog holes, whatever. The kind mounted to the end of the bench with a couple of anchor bolts and wing nuts are neat, but probably too fancy for my tastes.
Paired wedges can be used to lock in a workpiece between dogs.

-- I have some idea what I'm doing.

4 comments so far

View theoldfart's profile


12445 posts in 3455 days

#1 posted 01-09-2016 08:03 PM

So maybe something like this?

Which can be used as a birds mouth for edge planing thin stock

or face planing thin stock

or this?

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View Alan's profile


44 posts in 2306 days

#2 posted 01-10-2016 12:04 AM

Uh, yeah, just like those! Except for that cast-iron contraption at the bottom, which looks awesome but I have no idea what it is! Thanks for posting, the bird’s mouth with wedges is interesting.

-- I have some idea what I'm doing.

View theoldfart's profile


12445 posts in 3455 days

#3 posted 01-10-2016 02:58 AM

It behaves the same as a birds mouth.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View Sylvain's profile


1197 posts in 3504 days

#4 posted 01-14-2016 03:12 PM

You are probably familiar with the video shown here :

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

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