Joinery Bench & Moxon Vise

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Project by F40qwerty posted 11-07-2013 11:18 PM 14672 views 30 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So a few months ago, I ventured up to a small sawmill just outside of Columbia, South Carolina to pick up some lumber. The wood, Angelim Pedra or Angel’s Heart, is a very heavy species that originates from the rain forest areas of Brazil, Guyana, and Suriname. It was in great shape and the price was hard to beat. The original plan was to use it for my Nakashima Table, but it was way too hard and heavy. Just a few passes through my planer had dulled the knives, which prompted the change to something softer. The Angelim was thus relegated to the corner of the shop until this project.

The bench is a hybrid of benches I’ve seen on Lumberjocks and throughout the web. I also liked the idea of the Moxon vise for joinery, but I didn’t want to buy a pre-built kit. I figured I could make a custom solution that was also a bit more affordable.

The top of the bench is about 2′ by 2′ and 2.5″ thick. I glued up some pieces of the Angelim and planed it all flat. Despite being a nightmare on the power planer, the wood produced some nice curls with the hand plane.

The base is constructed using mortise and tenon joints. I struggled with the drill press and the Angelim. Creating these joints was by far the most labor intensive part of this project.

Finally onto the most enjoyable part of the build – the vise. I got a 1″-4×36″ acme screw from an online supplier complete with matching nuts for under $75. A guy at a local machine shop cut the 36″ down to 4 equal 9″ sections. I only needed to use two of the sections for this project, so I have supplies left over for another vise. Unlike some other Moxon vises, I wanted the screw to advance into the table when tightened so I had to figure out how bore into the table top. I tried using an auger bit, but I could barely control the drill because it pulled too hard. I ended up using a 1 1/4″ forstner bit that was kaput by the end of the process (thanks Angelim). Once was was all done, I chiseled out a space in which the nut would be recessed so that it could be flush with the face of the bench. The handles were shaped out of some extra walnut and go quite well with the table, in my humble opinion. A little 5-minute epoxy and all of the pieces were locked into place.

The final step in the vise build was adding some leather to the faces to avoid marring or damaging the workpieces. I got the leather on Amazon and bonded it to the maple with Titebond III.

My original plan was to drill 24 holes in the top for bench dogs but after wrestling with the wood while making the first, there was no way that I would be able to make more than 4. I fully earned those four too – I’m sure it was quite the sight to see me struggling with the plunge router like it was some sort of possessed jack-hammer. Once the holes were completed, I added a little paste wax and the bench was done!

Well, what can I say. I love the look of the bench and I think it’ll be great for exploring some hand tool techniques. It’s very stable and I don’t think it’ll be going anywhere since it weighs about 150 pounds. However, it was very difficult to work with Angel’s Heart. It was a tool destroyer. In total the Angelim claimed 2 forstner bits, a set of planer knives and one chisel. Hope you like it! Check out the full photo gallery on my site.

22 comments so far

View 1yeldud1's profile


301 posts in 3821 days

#1 posted 11-07-2013 11:41 PM

wow – I like yout table/vise – might have to add this to my wish list !

View a1Jim's profile


118066 posts in 4356 days

#2 posted 11-07-2013 11:44 PM

Excelent build Brent a very cool bench.


View DouginVa's profile


502 posts in 3052 days

#3 posted 11-07-2013 11:46 PM

Nice piece. And, I know what kinds of wood to NOT use in the future. Thanks.

-- Just a man with his chisel.........

View RockyTopScott's profile


1186 posts in 4257 days

#4 posted 11-07-2013 11:49 PM

Very sweet

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

View doubleDD's profile


9480 posts in 2822 days

#5 posted 11-08-2013 12:54 AM

Great looking bench. Looks like it will handle anything.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10923 posts in 4831 days

#6 posted 11-08-2013 02:18 AM

Looks really COOL!

I like the vise too…

What kind of Joinery are you going to do with it other than Dovetails?

Looking forward to seeing what you do with it.

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

View wood_maestro's profile


137 posts in 3472 days

#7 posted 11-08-2013 03:14 AM

Beautiful work. Love everything about this bench. Keep up the good work and keep sharing. Thanks

-- wood maestro....... Be Well, Do good work, and Stay in touch

View Scott Oldre's profile

Scott Oldre

1126 posts in 4210 days

#8 posted 11-08-2013 03:36 AM

What saw mill did you use? I’m always looking for wood sources around Columbia. I built an office desk out of the Angelim that I got from someone in Chapin area. It is hard, but the grain can be spectacular with the right finish.

Love the small bench, and that may be what I have to do to fit an actual bench in my garage.

Thanks for sharing

-- Scott, Irmo SC

View RandyinFlorida's profile


257 posts in 2846 days

#9 posted 11-08-2013 03:42 AM

Very, very cool. It’s now a favorite. BTW… Thank You for your service.

Randy in Crestview Fl, MSgt USAF (ret)

-- Randy in Crestview Florida, Wood Rocks!

View F40qwerty's profile


95 posts in 2980 days

#10 posted 11-08-2013 03:51 AM

Thanks for the comments everyone! Despite the frustrations, it was a really fun build and I learned a whole lot.

Joe, I’ll use it for dovetails and and precision cuts. I’m just getting into working with hand tools, so this will give me a good place to practice.

Scott, I got it from a guy who was getting rid of a lot of his supply. I remember that he had a lot of land with tons of the stuff drying everywhere. In fact, I think he was in Chapin now that you mention it. I love the grain as well… there’s something very soothing about it. Space is at a premium for me also, so this works well for me.

View siavosh's profile


674 posts in 2650 days

#11 posted 11-08-2013 05:28 AM

Looks great! I’m jealous, it’s on my todo list.

-- -- Discover the most interesting woodworking blogs from around the world

View Ken90712's profile


17877 posts in 3967 days

#12 posted 11-08-2013 10:47 AM

Great bench, Should serve you well.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View anile8tor's profile


15 posts in 2529 days

#13 posted 11-08-2013 12:24 PM

I like the idea of the bench being smaller than most. I have a small shop and a bench like tha would fit perfect. Thanks for sharing.

-- anile8tor

View Ottacat's profile


517 posts in 2630 days

#14 posted 11-08-2013 01:05 PM

Very nice, I imagine your tools will cower in fear and behave properly when used on it.

View ward63's profile


363 posts in 3866 days

#15 posted 11-08-2013 02:38 PM

Beautiful bench and interesting vice! Never ever seen a broken chisel like that…. must have been defect.

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