The Last Moxon Dovetail Vise

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Project by Derek Cohen posted 09-21-2019 06:24 PM 1235 views 12 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Many of my projects involve bow fronts, which result in compound angle dovetails …

I do enjoy building furniture with dovetailing challenges.

Between furniture pieces, I find time to build a new tool. This time it is the Moxon dovetail vise I have been promising myself for a while. My first and only one was built in early 2011, after Chris Schwarz helped put it on the map. I immediately modified this design, and have been making modifications since. (Link: This new Moxon incorporates the best ideas.

Ironically, this design is not geared for compound angles. I decided to heed my own advice and keep it as simple as possible, and cater for the 90% of the dovetailing that is likely to be done.

The width of the vise is narrower than my previous one, but capable of 450mm (17 3/4”)between the screws. Most cases I built are between 350 – 450mm deep. My previous Moxon could do 560mm (22”) between the screws. This is unnecessary, and just makes for a very large fixture.

Where the old Moxon used wooden screws, which I turned, this uses steel Acme screws and iron wheels ala BenchCrafted … except that these came via Tom Bussey (thanks Tom), which amounted to a large savings. The wheels are 5” in diameter on a 3/4” screw.

The front chop is 5 1/2” high, and the Moxon is built in Jarrah … what else do you expect! :) I went a little OTT in this build, but it was fun, and I admit I did become a little carried away :)

Brass inlay …

The chop runs on bronze bearings …

Lining the inside of the vise is rubberised cork. This makes a great non-slip (not my idea – this comes from BenchCrafted, who call it “crubber”. Simply search eBay for “cork rubber”).

This vise is a good height for sawing …

There are a few innovations. The rear of the vise …

This is a spacer, and it can be locked into the up position …

The spacer has two functions. The first is setting the pin board (10mm) above the chop to prevent scoring the chop when transferring tails to pins with a knife (this is more of a danger with through dovetails). Also, by lifting the work, there will be light behind the pin board, and this makes it easier to align the edges.

The crubber makes a great non-slip.

The spacer may be dropped out of the way, once the height is set …

The second use of the spacer is that it has a sliding dovetail at the top, and this allows for the use of MicroJig clamps. This would be especially useful for holding wide boards, or tail board which have developed a slight bow …

I have used this on other fixtures, such as a morticing jig.

For aligning the tail- and pin boards, I prefer a simple wide square I made from wood …

The spacer needs to be dropped out of the way for this …

Once transfer is made, reverse the board and saw the pins. This is where you will recognise that the cove is not simply decoration, but allows the saw to angle and get closer to the work piece. The lower the work piece in the vise, the less vibration when sawing …

And thats it … the last moxon dovetail vise …

Regards from Perth


-- Buildiing furniture, and reviewing and building tools at

18 comments so far

View woodcox's profile


2361 posts in 2525 days

#1 posted 09-21-2019 07:34 PM

Wow, Derek! I like the spacer details. Well done, Sir.

-- "My god has more wood than your god" ... G. Carlin.

View Peteybadboy's profile


1181 posts in 2463 days

#2 posted 09-21-2019 07:53 PM

Amazing build. Your knowledge on dovetailing is way above mine. Thanks for the details and advice. Passing on your knowledge is appreciated.

-- Petey

View Combo Prof's profile

Combo Prof

3923 posts in 1791 days

#3 posted 09-21-2019 08:08 PM

Love ya work I’ll have to nick your ideas for my Moxon vice.

-- Don K, (Holland, Michigan)

View pottz's profile (online now)


6405 posts in 1497 days

#4 posted 09-21-2019 09:28 PM

absolute art,your work in just gorgeous,some of the best dovetail work ive seen.thanks for taking the time to show us this.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View oldrivers's profile


1821 posts in 2080 days

#5 posted 09-22-2019 12:28 AM

Excellent work these are show pieces

-- Soli Deo gloria!

View swirt's profile


4238 posts in 3485 days

#6 posted 09-22-2019 01:41 AM

The flip up spacer is ingenious. Well done!

-- Galootish log blog,

View therealSteveN's profile


3916 posts in 1087 days

#7 posted 09-22-2019 04:18 AM

Awesome Derek. I love your posts, so well documented. Your shop jigs look as good as most very well built furniture. This one is a departure from your old one. You sold me on a deck for mine, and I think more folks are going that way anymore. This is basic add a simple prop board in behind, done.

That design takes me back a few years to the Schwarz’s first piece. They say that woodworking is like the globe, just goes round and round.

Nice post.

-- Think safe, be safe

View controlfreak's profile


222 posts in 115 days

#8 posted 09-22-2019 11:04 AM

Beautiful! The absence of the table makes it easy to store too. The bass barings you used, did you make them or buy them? The use of that cove on the front may solve one of my remaining tasks on my Moxon, thanks for the idea.

View Derek Cohen's profile

Derek Cohen

470 posts in 4482 days

#9 posted 09-22-2019 01:09 PM

CF, they are not brass bearings, but brass bushings. Apology.

I have never agreed with the table extension for the Moxon vise. It places the work at the same height as the chop and, unless you use a spacer, you will cut up the chop when transferring knife marks with through dovetails.

Regards from Perth


-- Buildiing furniture, and reviewing and building tools at

View Notw's profile


727 posts in 2267 days

#10 posted 09-24-2019 02:21 PM

I really enjoy how thought out each and every detail of this vise are. I also really enjoy seeing shop jigs and vises built to not only fit a function but also to be used for a lifetime and be aesthetically pleasing.

View pottz's profile (online now)


6405 posts in 1497 days

#11 posted 09-24-2019 03:08 PM

congrats on the editors choce dt3 are easy that one is an honor of excellence.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View dannmarks's profile


1005 posts in 1095 days

#12 posted 09-26-2019 10:22 PM

Love this saved it to my favorites. I would love to see your whole shop.

View woodworkfkdn's profile


297 posts in 19 days

#13 posted 10-03-2019 08:31 PM

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