Alternative Leg Vise

  • Advertise with us
Project by RaggedKerf posted 10-24-2012 12:25 AM 6179 views 9 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I just completed the leg vise on my bench and I could not be happier. This is by far the most time consuming, complicated, multi-faceted project I’ve ever done from scratch (I’m talking from drawing this thing out in a notebook to taking the final picture).

For starters, I have to give a shout out to Don Broussard for sharing his leg vise, the original inspiration for mine! Also thanks to Bricofleur for sharing his shop made star knobs, which inspired me to make the handle for my vise the way I did (even thoguh I didn’t use any epoxy!). Thanks guys!

In a nutshell, I made it from a couple pieces of 1×6 pine glued together. I carved my makers mark on the chop along with the date. The handle is three pieces of poplar that I chiseled to embed 5/8” threaded rod nuts. When the three separate nut/wood pieces are rotated against each other, they form one solid unit that you can turn to clamp the vise and turn the other way to unclamp. No glue or epoxy, just a good fit and friction.

The screw is a 5/8” threaded rod I got from the BORG. Inside the leg I carved a hole to embed a threaded rod coupler (a big ‘un too). In the back of the chop I mortised out some space for a piece of metal i found to act as a garter (that took forever and a day to get right but in the end it works like a dream).

The guide is made from 4 thin strips of oak that were trimmed off of, oddly enough, trim, when we moved into out house in June and made some improvements. I had the pieces laying in the scrap pile and glue them together. After planing for thickness and sanding, I drilled holes (broke it, then glued it back together) and installed it in the chop with wedges.

I’m sure it’s not as smooth or as fast to operate (although with that long poplar handle I can crank it open and close in no time at all) as a traditional wood screw, or as pretty as one either.

But hey, for $15 (including the wood) and the ability to say, “yeah, I made that!” I am very happy.

If you want to see all the gory details and lots of pictures, see my Wordpress blog by clicking here and you can see the construction of the vise from the beginning.

Thanks for looking!

-- Steve

8 comments so far

View shipwright's profile


8816 posts in 4258 days

#1 posted 10-24-2012 12:51 AM

Very nice vice.
It looks a lot like mine at first glance.
There certainly are ways to get it done without the big dollar hardware.
Good work.

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

View RaggedKerf's profile


425 posts in 3580 days

#2 posted 10-24-2012 01:36 AM

Thank you!

“It looks a lot like mine at first glance.” <—-you just made my day! You do incredible work, sir.

-- Steve

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

4111 posts in 3711 days

#3 posted 10-24-2012 01:56 AM

@Steve—Thanks for the shout out. I like the all-thread rod versus the long carriage bolt I used. I think I’ll switch mine over to a 5/8” threaded rod. I still need to install the lower guide. Finally, thank you (and LJ Sylvain) for the good description in your blog on how you mounted the garter. Nice work overall on the bench and a good blog as well.

BTW, I suspect you are a lefty, since your leg vise is on the right of your bench.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View RaggedKerf's profile


425 posts in 3580 days

#4 posted 10-24-2012 10:31 AM

@Don—-thanks for the kind words. I’m glad my muddled attempt at getting that garter in might make it a little easier for someone else! Sylvain really helped with that idea about filing the threads and the picture was great.

And I am indeed a southpaw. Nice catch :)

-- Steve

View hunter71's profile


3563 posts in 4646 days

#5 posted 10-24-2012 11:15 AM

Wow, a marathon build. Looks very nice. Good Job!
I have one on my radar, I hope it doesn’t take a month though.

-- A childs smile is payment enough.

View GrandpaLen's profile


1652 posts in 3732 days

#6 posted 10-24-2012 03:38 PM

Very nicely done.

Adding a Proper Bench to a woodworking shop is a milestone to future successes and building your own is one of those gratifing accomplishments.

Best Regards.

Work Safely and have Fun. – Grandpa Len.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View RaggedKerf's profile


425 posts in 3580 days

#7 posted 10-24-2012 04:07 PM

@hunter71 It took me so long because I could only spare a half hour here, a half hour there during naptime when my two toddlers go down in the afternoon. I suppose anyone who isn’t a stay at home dad/handy man around the house/groundskeeper/cook/cleaning service could have done it in less than a week with one arm tied behind their back. Even I was surprised at how long it took—-real life really screws up woodworking sometimes, ha! Thanks for the compliment :)

@GrandpaLen Thanks so much, you summed up how I feel (and hope) precisely! It’s already proving it’s worth during the building of my first mallet. Being able to hold wood securely in different positions is priceless.

-- Steve

View vakman's profile


301 posts in 3863 days

#8 posted 11-17-2012 12:04 AM

This is a great alternative to the traditional mechanism seen on LJ, well done! I’m tempted to build a leg vice, thanks for the inspiration.

-- - Power is not revealed by striking hard or often, but by striking true. -

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics