The Holtzapffel Project #9: Veritas Twin Screw Face Vise

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Blog entry by kem posted 07-09-2008 10:29 PM 21644 reads 13 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: The end vise Part 9 of The Holtzapffel Project series no next part

Over the holiday weekend and in between rain delays of the mesmerizing Nadal-Federer final, I finished up my Holtzapffel workbench. The last two things to do were the face vise and a shelf under the bench.

For the face vise, I decided to use the Veritas twin screw. It’s about the same price as wooden screws and I liked the prospect of one-handed operation due to the chain drive. This vise requires two support blocks and a chop. Here are the finished pieces:

I made them out of hard maple laminations of 8/4 boards with 4/4 boards. The finished dimensions were 2.5×3.25×12.375 for the support blocks and 2.5×7.5×34 for the chop. I decided not to do the traditional roundover on the chop and fancy support blocks. I like the minimalistic look of these rectilinear blocks and chop.

Since the holes for the screws needed to be accurate, I used a brand new drill press and a 1.5” Forstner bit. I don’t know why I waited to buy a drill press! It was so much easier than boring that dog hole in the end vise with a brace and bit. I’m glad I got the press because as you can see in the photo above, these pieces required a lot of holes.

In the back of the support blocks, the nuts for the screws were mounted. I found out that the orientation of these nuts matters. If you’re not careful, your screw handles can be off by 90 degrees. But more on that later. The support blocks were attached to the bench using the bolts and round nuts shown below.

Using the brace and 3/8” auger bit, I bored the mounting holes through the workbench top.

On the top side, I counterbored with a 1” Forstner bit.

Here are the mounted support blocks:

Next, I lined up the chop and fully tightened the screws. The first time I did this one handle was pointing east-west and the other north-south. Argh! I decided to fix this by removing one of the nuts and rotating it 90 degrees. I don’t know why the instructions don’t say anything about this. It’s probably prudent to mount the nuts after checking the orientation with the screws fully engaged. After making this correction, the screw handles lined up correctly.

Next I attached the chain to the sprockets. My screws were 24” apart center-to-center so no links needed to be removed from the stock chain.

I added some wear strips to the underside of the bench to keep the front jaw from dropping too much as it gets extended.

After installing the chain cover, I found that the chain was dragging against the cover. So, I had to install one of the chain rollers included with the kit.

After installing that, the vise purred like a lovable little robot. To test out the vise I used it to cut some notches for the shelf that was to go in between the stretchers below. The shelf was just a piece of plywood 19.5×42.5. It fit easily between the twin screws!

I couldn’t do that with my crappy workmate! So cool. It was even cooler clamping the shelf horizontally.

The vise had no problem holding up that piece of plywood! What a grip! The one handed operation of this vise made it easy to hold up the plywood with one hand and crank the vise closed with the other. Sweet! I added the hold down below and finished cutting the notches.

Well, that was the last piece of the Holtzapffel puzzle.

I hope you all enjoyed watching me make my first workbench. I learned so much in building it and really enjoyed the experience. I’m ecstatic at how it turned out and how well it works for so many different tasks.

I have a coffee table I want to make in the remaining summer months before starting a guitar making class at Red Rocks. I look forward to blogging about that class in the fall. Stay tuned!

-- Kevin

13 comments so far

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1142 posts in 5445 days

#1 posted 07-09-2008 10:39 PM

Fantastic, I’m soooo looking forward to getting mine completed :) That last pic looks like it came right out of the Holtzapffel catalog :)

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View Bigbuck's profile


1347 posts in 5117 days

#2 posted 07-09-2008 10:42 PM

Thanks for sharing, that is a great looking work bench. If I ever get a proper workshop I would like to build a work bench like that for it.

-- Glenn, New Mexico

View Chris 's profile


1880 posts in 5445 days

#3 posted 07-09-2008 11:06 PM

Beautiful; Thanks for the step by step on the vise. I know it will come in handy!

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View hafwit's profile


9 posts in 5070 days

#4 posted 07-10-2008 12:15 AM

Wow! Nice job. I wish I had seen your posts earlier.

You obviously put a ton of thought into this. How long do you think it actually took you from start to finish?

I’m jealous!

-- Pete

View kem's profile


56 posts in 5172 days

#5 posted 07-10-2008 12:56 AM

Thanks Damien, I’m looking forward to seeing the progress on your bench. Your base is looking good!

Pete, I started the building 7-8 weeks ago and probably put in about 60-70 hours into it. Kinda slow, but a lot of it was new to me. I know I thought about it a lot more than that. I can get obsessive about things!

-- Kevin

View kem's profile


56 posts in 5172 days

#6 posted 07-10-2008 01:40 AM

A couple of other thoughts on the twin screw vise:

I decided to leave the handles floating (instead of fixed) so they will fall out of the way after the vise is tightened. This causes a problem when operating it one-handed since the other handle will fly back and forth. This is why I left the little brass screw in the left handle tee. I usually leave it tightened so it holds the handle in place and then release it when I’m done tightening.

My one complaint with the twin screw vise is that it is a little slow to move in and out. I think that is because the screws are only about an inch in diameter with fairly fine threads. The big wood screws are certainly faster in moving in and out. So there is a tradeoff between being able to operate it with one hand and the speed of operation.

-- Kevin

View Callum Kendall's profile

Callum Kendall

1918 posts in 5157 days

#7 posted 07-10-2008 01:55 PM

Great job!

Thanks for the post


-- For wood working podcasts with a twist check out

View Dennis's profile


7 posts in 5357 days

#8 posted 07-11-2008 01:26 AM

That is a nice looking bench!
Did you have plans to work from…...and if so can you tell me where to go for them.
I need to build a bench and yours is almost exactly what I have in mind.


-- D and D...Texas

View kem's profile


56 posts in 5172 days

#9 posted 07-11-2008 06:15 AM

Hi Dennis,

I based my design on Chris Schwarz’s Holtzapffel bench (Woodworking Magazine, Autumn 2007) and used some construction techniques found in his Workbenches book. You can find some of my sketchup drawings in the first post of this series. Good luck on your bench!

-- Kevin

View jeanmarc's profile


1899 posts in 5170 days

#10 posted 07-27-2008 10:46 AM

That is a nice looking bench!

-- jeanmarc manosque france

View cylis007's profile


56 posts in 4922 days

#11 posted 01-24-2009 09:26 PM

Thanks for posting this series. It is very inspirational!

-- A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things. There will be sleeping enough in the grave. ~Benjamin Franklin

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1142 posts in 5445 days

#12 posted 02-04-2009 11:45 PM

Ha! I just saw my post from 210 days ago that I’d completely forgotten about. I’m just about ready to install my twin screw and finally get my bench finished, and this is the perfect tutorial :)

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 5039 days

#13 posted 02-04-2009 11:51 PM

Great idea I have seen this before but found it to be too expensive and impractical for all situations to warrant the outlay,however nice looking it is ,but that’s just my two cents. I am glad you are happy with it.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

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