A Pair of Simple Ten Dollar Wagon Vices That Work

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Project by shipwright posted 08-26-2012 11:36 PM 52953 views 237 times favorited 70 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I designed these vices for my new bench. They are now installed and work perfectly and yes, they cost less than $10 each at a $4 per fbm price for the clear arbutus of which they are made.

When I was building boats we often used wedges when screw clamps were not powerful enough so it wasn’t much of a leap for me to choose the wedge as the go-to device for my “outside the box” workbench. The concept is simple. The vices are made as “inserts” and as such could be dropped into any existing bench. In the case of mine they are two of a set of inserts that were all built in as the top was assembled.

The wedge itself is an 8 degree inclined plane that will advance the wagon a little over 1/2”. There are 1/2” and 1” shims that drop easily into place to bring the travel up to just over two inches. The wagon has three dog holes that are 2” apart so by choosing the appropriate dog hole on the wagon, I have over 6” of travel. The dog holes up my bench are at 6” intervals so I have all the travel I need and don’t be worrying about the power, it is massive.

The main point of interest that makes this all work is the modified deck beam joint, an old boat builders standard for load bearing. The back end could be glued in place but by employing this wedge style joint the base half of the wedge system can easily be removed. Once it is out, the wagon will slide back and come out for cleaning etc. The video will make this a little clearer.

With two of these wagon vices and two rows of dog holes I will be able to stabilize a large flat piece quickly and efficiently.

The photos:
1) The two wagon vice inserts ready to install.
2) An exploded view of one vice.
3) Preliminary assembly of the main components.
4) A close up look at the modified deck beam joint.
5) Comparison between assembled and exploded. In the foreground are the pieces for my wedge powered leg vice. Stay tuned.
6) The assembly into the back end piece of the bench showing how the end of the vice is trapped.

The following video was made before I had installed the vices and before I was actually sure that my preliminary guess of 8 degrees would do the job. It does do the job.

My apologies for the audio…. so I mumble, OK. It gets better if you listen twice.
<iframe src=”” frameborder=”0” height=”360” width=”480”></iframe>

Here they are in the finished bench, going through their paces.
<iframe src=”” frameborder=”0” height=”315” width=”420”></iframe>

EDIT: Here’s a sketchup I did. I’m no pro but I think it works OK.

Edit, Updated SU:

Thanks for looking
I hope that this gets some of you thinking about alternatives to the expensive bench jewelry down at the toy store.

Questions, comments and critiques are always welcome.


-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

70 comments so far

View Dusty56's profile


11868 posts in 5025 days

#1 posted 08-26-2012 11:49 PM

Thanks for the video explanation…I’ve never seen or heard of this item before : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View tinnman65's profile


1426 posts in 4751 days

#2 posted 08-26-2012 11:57 PM

Wow Paul what a great idea! You never cease to amaze. Thanks for the video it was real helpful in showing just how it works. I can see how that wedge idea could really work for a bunch of things.

-- Paul--- Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. — Scott Adams

View a1Jim's profile


118309 posts in 4914 days

#3 posted 08-26-2012 11:57 PM

Very cool Paul you always come with the neatest projects . I like this one


View Boatman53's profile


1086 posts in 3534 days

#4 posted 08-27-2012 12:00 AM

That is very interesting Shipwright. No screws to rust, or handles sticking off the end of the bench. Does the dog carrier block also have an 8 deg. bevel? I might have put one of those on my bench if I had known about it. I built with the idea of using just the Wonder Pups but they proved to be too slow and a bit cumbersome for continual use. The are good for the odd clamping now an again so I do like them, just not for every day.
Keep us posted on how they work for you actually in the bench top.

-- Jim, Mid coast, Maine home of the chain leg vise

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10963 posts in 5389 days

#5 posted 08-27-2012 12:06 AM

Nice – Clever design!

Very well thought-out!

Thank you.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View woodworm's profile


14477 posts in 4928 days

#6 posted 08-27-2012 12:16 AM

Great idea.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

27255 posts in 4443 days

#7 posted 08-27-2012 12:21 AM

Neat idea, with a lot of travel too!....................Jm

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View shipwright's profile


8781 posts in 4135 days

#8 posted 08-27-2012 12:22 AM

Jim, No, the wagon (dog carrier) is square on the end, the other half of the angle is on the deck beam joint block. You can retrofit this in your bench if you want. It only needs an accurate hole and a little epoxy..

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5219 days

#9 posted 08-27-2012 12:28 AM

Very nice Paul,

You could put a loose (removable?) connecting rod between the two wedges for easy dual adjusting with one motion. It also might make it easier to loosen by having something to pull up on. Or not.

Keep it coming,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View peteg's profile


4438 posts in 4160 days

#10 posted 08-27-2012 12:29 AM

As usual Paul, you make a very usefull tool look so simple to make, man you have a hatful of tricks to share, :: ))

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View slapdash's profile


108 posts in 3561 days

#11 posted 08-27-2012 12:31 AM

Awesome, I want one. My imaginary workbench just got more complex

-- I'm not creative, I'm just bad at copying

View Oldtool's profile


3407 posts in 3528 days

#12 posted 08-27-2012 12:35 AM

Wow, very nice. First I’ve seen this. I like. Thanks for showing and the video.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View rance's profile


4281 posts in 4498 days

#13 posted 08-27-2012 12:36 AM

Now that’s what I like, clever alternatives to an expensive problem. I’m assuming you remove the wedge from underneath with a mallet.

I don’t know that you mumble so much as you have an ineffective mic. That’s a problem on a LOT of videos on YT. All in all, the audio was not needed this time. I still don’t know what you said. :)

Nice job on this one Paul. I did a SketchUp for a later build. Thanks for sharing a really clever idea.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

> and a little epoxy..

NO!!!!!!!!!!! Say it isn’t so. You used EPOXY? Well there goes the HHG neighborhood! :D

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View kiefer's profile


5852 posts in 4004 days

#14 posted 08-27-2012 12:47 AM

Thanks Paul!
Now I have to rethink my work bench plan that is going to be build this winter.
I am impressed with the simplicity and strenght of this vise set up and beautiful joinery to boot.
Hope to see the bench completed soon .

-- Kiefer

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4141 days

#15 posted 08-27-2012 12:58 AM

Some really nice machining there. I’m with you on the crazy cost of some things. (all things) It’s really rediculous if ya ask me.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

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