Moxon vice - From scraps and construction hardware

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Project by bluekingfisher posted 02-16-2019 12:51 PM 3101 views 9 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Since becoming aware of the increased working height provided by a Moxon vice I have realised it would benefit my woodworking significantly. I suffer from neck and shoulder pain, the result of an old injury, I am hoping this new addition to my shop will alleviate some of the discomfort. The chops, or jaws are simply 2 x laminated 25 mm sheets of exterior plywood I salvaged from a dumpster.

Clearly they had been in a wet environment at some point, most likely a tank room judging by the old water stains. Although the plys were sound some of the top veneer was brittle in places, therefore I was concerned with the durability and longevity of the ply. My solution was to glue hardwood lipping around the edges. I upcycled some oak flooring for this. I was also concerned with the damage the threaded rod would cause as I opened and closed the front chop, the threads would eventually tear the ply to shreds. My solution was to counter bore holes and install stainless steel closet rail hangers to act as bushings or sleeves, thus protecting the interior ply.

I wanted to have a little play between the rod and the walls of the bushings, this would ensure I had lateral movement to accommodate slanted or narrow stock. I failed to fully calculate the offset caused by the larger counter bore hole through the chop. I just meant I had to plane off the 1/8” or so to level the jaws when they are closed.

I bought some heavy gauge washers to protect the front and back of the chops around the threaded rod holes, again to protect the end grain veneer. I took the step to level them with the wood surface. I used a little laminating trim router for this part although by this time I had glued and fitted the rear stabilising bar which meant the base of my router limited me at this point. My cordless router finished off the job.

The next job was to make some handles. I used some better quality birch plywood scraps. Marking out the handle, I went for a 4” diameter. Drilled the knurled with a 10mm Forstner bit on the pillar drill then cut them out with an improvised circle cutting jig at the bandsaw. I counter bored a hole and sunk the nut locked it in with epoxy resin.

Once I test fitted the handle I became aware I had cut the threaded rod (M20 construction studding) too long. I immediately had premonitions of catching my self and clothing every time I walked past it. I marked it with tape and cut the excess off with a hand held grinder.

The rods are now 8” long providing me with a adequate 2 1/2” working space between the jaws, more than I will ever require.

I used the almost forgotten leather welders apron which came with my home welding kit. It was actually quite good quality leather and I had reservations about cutting it up for jaw linings but as I have never used it…..... I sized the interior of the jaws with thin wash coat of glue and water, let them dry overnight then glued the leather on using PVA glue.

To minimise the ” made from scraps” appearance I applied some dark stain, unfortunately I didn’t the reapplied stain on the top of the chops dry for long enough, so when I applied the oil/yacht varnish top coat some of the stain lifted. I now have a new vice which unintentionally looks 100 years old. Oh well, looks can be deceiving. I had read some vices are difficult to hold tight to the bench, so I applied some self adhesive stair tread grip tape to the base of the rear chop and stabilising bare. This I have found really helps to solve the problem.

I gave it a test run, it grips the work like a ship wrecked sailor to a life raft and the turn handles spin freely, not quite to the standard of a bench crafted kit but for around 20 quid all in I am happy with my lot. More importantly, the working height is a god send. It measures around 30” in length x 7 1/4” in height and allows for 18 1/2” between the screws. I look forward to using it. Thanks for looking and reading this far. David.

-- No one plans to fail, they just, just fail to plan

13 comments so far

View artsyfartsy's profile


1640 posts in 2398 days

#1 posted 02-16-2019 02:04 PM

That was quite interesting and useful. Great Job. I’m gonna save this for future use. Thanks.

-- DWelch. Michigan, The only dumb question is the one not asked!

View tyvekboy's profile


2132 posts in 4253 days

#2 posted 02-16-2019 02:47 PM

Very good posting, pictures & description.
Looks like that should serve you well for decades.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4574 days

#3 posted 02-16-2019 04:03 PM

I won’t be building a Moxon vise anytime soon, nevertheless this is such an refreshing post and the craftsmanship and thought that went into was very interesting reading. My complements, this is a great example of what a project post on a woodworking site should be! I hope others take note and start doing the same.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Andre's profile


4733 posts in 3046 days

#4 posted 02-16-2019 04:24 PM

Looks like it has been in the shop for ever! I spent more time building my moxon than using it?

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View therealSteveN's profile


8832 posts in 1814 days

#5 posted 02-16-2019 06:21 PM

Nice job on your tall vise. If you do have any issues with pain when using a low woodworking bench getting the fine work up where it really should be will be a refreshing for you.

Already pointed out, your post was extremely well done, complete, and informative.

Well done, and thanks for posting.

-- Think safe, be safe

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


22366 posts in 4916 days

#6 posted 02-16-2019 06:22 PM

Nice work, David. Great post too. I can smell a Top 3 in the air.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View socrbent's profile


1048 posts in 3509 days

#7 posted 02-16-2019 06:55 PM

+1 on Stefangs comments. Thanks for sharing this project with the wonderful details. The adaptations to your needs look well thought out and effective.

-- socrbent Ohio

View W.F. Judt's profile

W.F. Judt

116 posts in 1401 days

#8 posted 02-16-2019 10:19 PM


Thank you for this posting. Like yourself, I enjoy improvising when it comes to building things around my shop. And I enjoy learning new methods and tricks from those who build their stuff.

-- "Faith is a better tool than than fear to process a crisis. Fear views a crisis as a threat. Faith views a crisis as a means for God to work a higher purpose. “

View poospleasures's profile


865 posts in 3724 days

#9 posted 02-17-2019 12:28 AM

Great post. So clear on how to do every step.

-- I,ve had amnesia for as long as I can remember. Vernon

View bluekingfisher's profile


1333 posts in 4219 days

#10 posted 02-17-2019 11:58 AM

Wow, I am completely flabbergasted by so many kind words and comments regards my shop project, gents. Thank you to all who have taken the time to read and especially to those who have felt inspired to comment.
Of course, when a copy of an original is made I feel a thank you should also be offered, in this case to Joseph Moxon …......or whoever it was responsible for the creation of the twin screw vice.

-- No one plans to fail, they just, just fail to plan

View dannmarks's profile


1028 posts in 1821 days

#11 posted 02-28-2019 12:06 PM

Very good idea – Saved as a Favorite.

View bluekingfisher's profile


1333 posts in 4219 days

#12 posted 03-07-2019 11:37 AM

Very good idea – Saved as a Favorite.

- dannmarks

-- No one plans to fail, they just, just fail to plan

View bluekingfisher's profile


1333 posts in 4219 days

#13 posted 03-07-2019 11:38 AM

Very good idea – Saved as a Favorite.

- dannmarks

Good luck. I hope you build one for yourself.

- bluekingfisher

-- No one plans to fail, they just, just fail to plan

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