Building a Hi-Vise / Carvers Vise

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Project by BrentParkin posted 05-22-2020 02:28 PM 510 views 4 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I got tired of shaping saw handles in a hand screw clamped in a bench vise so I built what I guess is a carvers vise (I don’t carve so maybe I’m wrong about the name) to better hold the handles as I work on them. The vise got interchangeable jaws as well so that I have soft ones to grab delicate stuff like the handles and some hardwood ones to hold round items or small stuff that needs a little planing or other shaping.

The main screw in the vise came from a $5 garage sale find of an antique leg vise that was broken. I wire brushed it clean and then buffed the metal up with a 400 grit abrasive ball from Harbor Freight. The lower guide is a piece of 3/4” Acme threaded rod I had laying around. It is simply twisted into the hole drilled in the front vise chop and needs no further measures such as epoxy to hold it there. I spun a 3/4” nut on to the shaft and found that it works perfect without any extra bits welded on or by sinking it into a big wood hand wheel or such. In fairness, this only works because it is an Acme thread. A normal threaded rod would be an aggravation in this case. The nut spins freely with just a flick due to the flat super course threads.

The lumber for this project came from a big stack of oak I keep around for making jigs. I was at an auction 15 years ago where an entire pallet of oak stakes that had been cut to use on trucks or trailers was up for sale. I got a pile of big heavy straight quarter sawn stakes 4’x4’x4’ high for $10. I will likely never run out of heavy oak to build jigs and fixtures with. I just laminated what I needed to make the vise chops and other parts.

The vise is designed to have removable and customized jaws in it. I have hardwood jaws, softwood jaws and am just making a pair that have customized shapes attached to allow me to shape specific handles for the saws I build. You can let your mind run free with the ideas that can be incorporated into these jaws. The jaws sit on a pin embedded into the vise chops to keep them from moving about. The pin is a piece of aluminum rod I cut and shaped on a sander, then polished to make them look nice. Looks like this when there are no jaws installed.

At this point, I attach the vise to my bench with holdfasts or clamps. But I do intend to modify it with some sort of built in clamping system that is attached to the vise. I’m quite pleased with it and encourage anyone that could use the taller vise like this to make one. It only took an afternoon to build. I’m not sure if the drawings I attached for the parts will be visible so if you want PDF’s of them, just ask and I will send them to you.

-- Regards,

7 comments so far

View Andre's profile


3460 posts in 2543 days

#1 posted 05-22-2020 02:43 PM

Good idea! Funny how many times the bench is not exactly the right height? Really like that Veritas L.A. Block plane:) Picked up a load of pipe dunnage last fall, Oak and some Maple managed to salvage some real nice pieces which come in handy. Bought as firewood:)

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View BurlyBob's profile


7435 posts in 3002 days

#2 posted 05-22-2020 03:18 PM

That is one seriously impressive vise.

View AJ1104's profile


1080 posts in 2396 days

#3 posted 05-23-2020 12:25 AM

This vise is a great idea. I like the interchangeable jaws. Well done.

-- AJ

View swirt's profile


5109 posts in 3709 days

#4 posted 05-23-2020 02:25 AM

Great looking vise. Very useful.

-- Galootish log blog,

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5175 posts in 1319 days

#5 posted 05-23-2020 12:57 PM

Very good, Brent! On my list too, but for now I’m getting by with a machinists vise with wooden jaw inserts.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View James E McIntyre's profile

James E McIntyre

726 posts in 2029 days

#6 posted 05-23-2020 07:58 PM

Nice build Brent. Looks professionally built.

Great buy on the pallet of oak. Were they 4×4’s ?

-- James E McIntyre

View BrentParkin's profile


151 posts in 1672 days

#7 posted 05-23-2020 09:02 PM

Nice build Brent. Looks professionally built. Great buy on the pallet of oak. Were they 4×4’s ?

- James E McIntyre

Hi James,

No not 4×4. The actual size escapes me at the moment, but something a little smaller like 1.75” x 3”.


-- Regards,

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