Moxon Vise for $6 and stuff around the shop

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Blog entry by TechRedneck posted 05-20-2013 03:11 AM 23150 reads 32 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have a nice Incra Lite on my router table purchased and used specifically for joinery. It does a nice job and I use it for small dovetails and box joints. However I always wanted to learn how to do hand cut dovetails for larger projects and drawers in the furniture I am building.

After a couple attempts on my bench using the leg vise, my patience was wearing thin and back was starting to complain. I work on networks and servers all day and don’t use my back much.

I follow the epic threads on workbenches, hand planes, chisels and like the hand tool work (still use my machines as well) and started researching the Moxon Vises. I particularly liked the one sold by “Tools for Working Wood” and the one by BenchCrafted. There are a number of videos on these just search YouTube.

I did not want to spend a lot of cash and “Tools For Working Wood” was back ordered on the handles. So here is what I came up with using some leftover Oak, some bolts, washers, and a few pieces of copper tube. I have to say this works great and I incorporated a number of features from the many others posted.

This rear view of the vise shows the shelf that I just glued onto the clamped portion of the vice to hold the tail board while marking the pins. For a beginner like me, this seemed like a must have feature.

Materials used were three 3/4×4” x 41.5” oak boards glued up for the base, two 3/4×36” oak boards glued up for the jaws, two 10×1/2” bolts (threaded only 6”) two nuts and two washers. For the handles, I used some smaller bolts, nuts, washers and custom cut some old copper water line filling the gap inside with some duct tape to take out the wobble.

I used my brace and 1/2” auger because I did not feel like setting up the roller stand on the drill press to drill the holes. If you do this, be careful to drill straight. One of my bores was off a few degrees but was not that big a deal.

Once the holes are bored, run the bolt through and twist on the nut, then pull it tight against the back and trace the outline of the nut with a knife. Remove the bolt and nut then using a sharp chisel, carefully chisel out the recess for the nut. This has to be done to tight tolerances so take your time.

To aid in screwing in the bolt, I tapered the edge on the belt sander, this provides a nice taper to make inserting the bolt easy.

At first, I thought I had a brainstorm. Using the notches cut from the base, I drilled a 1/2” hole and cut a square recess to fit the underside of the bolt. These would be little knobs for turning the vice in and out. NOT!!!

My wrists were numb by the time I turned both of those knobs in on the first try. I knew at that point that I needed some cranks and let elementary physics do the work.

Now this is more like it. I scoured the scrap drawers for some parts and came up with two smaller bolts, recessed the nuts in the back, placed a washer at both ends threaded the bolt just just till it started in the recessed nut on the back of the handle and measured between the washers. Then cut a piece of copper pipe to that length and flared the end. Then I wrapped some duct tape around the threads of the bolt enough that the pipe just slid over the tape. Because there was a small space between the washer and the head of the bolt, I was able to fit a wrench just under the mushroom head and tightened the bolt, squeezing the copper pipe and the whole handle together. Then I assembled the handles on to the long 10” bolts and cranked the whole vice tight.

After that I baked off the handles, applied some epoxy under the mushroom head of the large bolt to effectively epoxy the handle onto the bolt, then cranked the vice tight again and let the epoxy set overnight.

The next day I applied a coat of BLO and that was it.

Hope you found this helpful.

-- Mike.... West Virginia. "Man is a tool using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.". T Carlyle

12 comments so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17678 posts in 3955 days

#1 posted 05-20-2013 11:02 AM

Mike, very nice vise you’ve created! And finally, a good use for duct tape. :-)

I love the handles, too; bonus points for using copper!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View BigRedKnothead's profile


8594 posts in 3319 days

#2 posted 05-20-2013 02:28 PM

Cool man. Thanks for taking the time to share. We’ll be watching for some dovetails :-)

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View Julian's profile


1676 posts in 4027 days

#3 posted 05-20-2013 02:50 PM

I like your version of the moxon vise. I have used mine for a couple of projects, to cut dovetails and the added height is so much easier on the back.

-- Julian

View Don W's profile

Don W

20285 posts in 3905 days

#4 posted 05-20-2013 03:52 PM

well done Mike.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Mosquito's profile


11473 posts in 3629 days

#5 posted 05-20-2013 03:57 PM

Nicely done. Something similar is on my ever growing list of things to add to the workbench.

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View Woodtodust's profile


85 posts in 3174 days

#6 posted 05-21-2013 12:00 AM

Very nice Mike. I have a “shared” workspace—I share it with my wife’s car, lawnmowers, etc—and have been using all kinds of Magyver-like clamping setups with more frustration than success. I think the Moxon vice you made could be the solution. Thanks for sharing how you put it together.

-- Bill...Richmond Hill, GA--"83% of all statistics are made up."

View Mauricio's profile


7170 posts in 4489 days

#7 posted 05-21-2013 01:50 AM

Great build man!

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View KOVA's profile


1362 posts in 3715 days

#8 posted 05-24-2013 03:29 AM



View mahdee's profile


4291 posts in 3105 days

#9 posted 11-05-2013 04:01 PM

Mike, love this project and like to make one for sure. If you wish to share, I would appreciate it.


View TechRedneck's profile


770 posts in 4194 days

#10 posted 11-06-2013 02:21 AM


If I can answer any questions, just ask. Since posting this I have used the moxon a number of times for some drawers on a solid cherry cabinet. I also made my own striking knife from a old saw blade and some guides for layout. Once you start, all you want to do is hand cut dovetails so you can practice. And believe me… I still need to practice!

-- Mike.... West Virginia. "Man is a tool using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.". T Carlyle

View Michael smith's profile

Michael smith

52 posts in 2543 days

#11 posted 03-05-2015 10:13 AM

Mike very nice moxon vice. Iam in the process of adding one to the new bench side. Iam in the process of building.
I built my bench high to relieve back ach. I too checked hundreds of site to build one.
Some show the threaded rods stationary, i dont’t like the rod sticking after the vice is holding wood. I do like
The rods flush with the moveable board & crank handles but I believe you must be very accurate so the vice closed properly. I put a side vice on my old bench and it is sloppy. It closes at the top way too soon.
Also one video showed the clamping outer board cut to 2 deg. Is this necessary?
iam not sure which way to go.
I really like what you did thanks for showing.
Mike S

-- Http://

View TechRedneck's profile


770 posts in 4194 days

#12 posted 03-07-2015 06:42 PM


This build was a while ago, but I remember that I clamped the front of the vice to the back then drilled the holes for the rods. Make sure you are drilling plumb. I messed up one side but it is forgiving. I did not use any 2 degree anything.. just flat. Taper the outside top of the vice to allow you to saw at an angle.

I agree that having the threaded rods sticking out the front would suck.

Since this posting, I use this vice for nearly every dovetail. I don’t use any dovetail jigs or power tools because this vice makes cutting dovetails so easy. Today I am working on a full chest of drawers for my daughter and all the joints are hand cut dovetails. I can still use some improvement but I would rather have a hand cut dovetail with a tiny gap here and there than a machine cut one in fine furniture.

I made this vice long to fit the sides of chests and larger drawers. I am glad that I did, it comes in handy. The fact that your bench is high, and this vice adds some more height you can joint the ends of some long panels if you want. I even have a stool next to the bench to sit and chisel the half blind dovetails.

I do find that if you can mount this on the side of the bench, you can take the board out of the clamp and place it flat on the workbench and clamp it down to fine tune the joint with chisels, then move back to the moxon.

Good luck and post a pic when you are finished.

-- Mike.... West Virginia. "Man is a tool using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.". T Carlyle

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