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Workbench thickness, holdfasts and vises

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Forum topic by Tony1212 posted 02-14-2017 05:44 PM 2768 views 1 time favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Tony1212

351 posts in 2239 days


02-14-2017 05:44 PM

Topic tags/keywords: workbench vises holdfasts

I’m in the planning phase of a new workbench. I’m thinking of creating a bench top out of some leftover 3/4” plywood that I already have in my shop. I’m thinking of 4 plywood layers with a sacrificial 1/8” or 1/4” hardboard on top. That comes to about 3” or so in thickness (since 3/4” ply is not really 3/4” thick but the hardboard should get me there or slightly thicker).

I want to use both holdfasts and a Shop Fox D4026 vise. But I have a couple questions.

With 3” or so thickness, can I just mount the vise to the bottom and add a chop? Or will I need to route/cut out space for the vise?

Will the top thickness be thick enough for most holdfasts? I plan on putting 3/4” holes as dog holes for use with the vise. I hope those can double as holdfasts.

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs


16 replies so far

View bbasiaga's profile

bbasiaga

1243 posts in 2500 days


#1 posted 02-14-2017 05:59 PM

Yes on the holdfasts. In my bench design, the plans call for leaving a 3” thick area in a bench otherwise 5”thick to allow most standard holdfasts to work. So I think you would be good.

As for the vice, it’s hard to say but 3” doesn’t seem too bad for a vice chop.

Brian

-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View Michael's profile

Michael

24 posts in 1011 days


#2 posted 02-19-2017 05:28 AM

My holdfasts work fine in the apron of my kids’ bench which is 1 1/2”. I’ve never tried them in plywood.

-- "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe." John Muir

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

4149 posts in 1087 days


#3 posted 02-19-2017 10:48 AM

The other solution for a plywood bench-top is to throw a 2×4 under the line(s) where you’re going to want your holdfasts. I have a ¾” plywood bench-top with a 2×4 under it to support dogs / holdfasts in the long direction, and a 2×8 running the other way to support another short line of dogs / holdfasts. They’re screwed into the 2×4 frame under the bench-top and glued to the bottom of the top so they’re fairly solid. Seems to work for me.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

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Tony1212

351 posts in 2239 days


#4 posted 02-19-2017 02:36 PM

Thanks for all of the info on holdfasts. I’m now pretty confident that my plan will work with them.

But I’m still a bit concerned about the vise. Mounting it directly to the bottom of the 3” thick bench top will mean that the chop needs to be about 4.5”to 5” to account for the screw and slides. I know to expect racking from left to right, but will it rack from top to bottom with that much space?

I guess what I’m asking is, do these type of vices have a maximum bench top thickness that they can accommodate? I’ve been Googling around and have seen mention of it, but no solid numbers.

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs

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Lazyman

3923 posts in 1892 days


#5 posted 02-19-2017 03:31 PM

Shop Fox is the Retail brand for Grizzly and the vise you linked above looks like it is identical to the Grizzly branded H7788. About the only difference appears to be the paint color. Grizzly’s customer service people usually have pretty good knowledge of their products so you might try calling them and asking if there is a recommended maximum or optimal bench thickness for the Grizzly version.

Also, if you look at the 3rd image of the Grizzly H8110 Euro Bench at Grizzly.com which has a 4” top, it looks to me like they mounted a similar vise at the base of the 4” top which would imply to me that you will be fine.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View builtinbkyn's profile

builtinbkyn

2942 posts in 1445 days


#6 posted 02-19-2017 03:40 PM

You may want to consider an Eclipse Vise. It’s not much more than the one you’re considering. It has a quick release, making it more user friendly. This is how I mounted it on the top of my bench which is just shy of 3”.

Click for details

If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Edit: Here's a blog I did of the bench from beginning to end.

-- Bill, Yo!......in Brooklyn & Steel City :)

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Tony1212

351 posts in 2239 days


#7 posted 09-17-2019 01:06 PM



cbbcb

- sonu388488

Umm, not sure what this is about, but since you brought this thread back up, I figured I’d close the loop.

I bought this hold fast when the seller was selling them as a pair for $37. They’re pretty good, but I don’t have any real comparisons. Sometimes I need to help them seat and stick by using my hand to push the straight part through the bench. But once it does seat, it work fine.

As for the vise, I did get the shop fox. It works, but it does rack from top to bottom. I’m not sure how to fix that issue. It’s not bad enough that it makes me want to go through the trouble of ripping it out and installing a different one.

If I were to build a new bench, I’d consider going with the Gramercy holdfasts to compare with and I would definitely get a different vise.

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs

View MPython's profile

MPython

166 posts in 317 days


#8 posted 09-17-2019 01:39 PM

As for the vise, I did get the shop fox. It works, but it does rack from top to bottom. I m not sure how to fix that issue. It s not bad enough that it makes me want to go through the trouble of ripping it out and installing a different one.

If I were to build a new bench, I d consider going with the Gramercy holdfasts to compare with and I would definitely get a different vise.

- Tony1212

Tony, you can probably compensate for the top-to-bottom racking by tapering your front vise chop to achieve a toe-in, I.E., to allow the vise to close at the top before the rest of the faces come together. Most metal woodworking vises have the toe-in designed into the vise. Because you have to make and install the chops on your vise, you need to build the toe-in into the chops. It’s easy to do: just run the front chop through your planer with a shim under one edge. A 1/8 to 3/16” shim should give you enough taper, but you might decide to use more if the racking is severe. I installed a Veritas twin screw vise on my bench. It requires installation of user-made front and rear chops. The instructions call for tapering the front chop as I described. It works fine. It closes at the top first and the faces come together as the vise is tightened.

Hope this helps.

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Tony1212

351 posts in 2239 days


#9 posted 09-17-2019 01:45 PM


Tony, you can probably compensate for the top-to-bottom racking by tapering your front vise chop to achieve a toe-in, I.E., to allow the vise to close at the top before the rest of the faces come together. Most metal woodworking vises have the toe-in designed into the vise. Because you have to make and install the chops on your vise, you need to build the toe-in into the chops. It s easy to do: just run the front chop through your planer with a shim under one edge. A 1/8 to 3/16” shim should give you enough taper, but you might decide to use more if the racking is severe. I installed a Veritas twin screw vise on my bench. It requires installation of user-made front and rear chops. The instructions call for tapering the front chop as I described. It works fine. It closes at the top first and the faces come together as the vise is tightened.

Hope this helps.

- MPython

That DOES help. Thank you very much. I had no idea that such a thing as a “toe-in” existed. There were no instructions with the shop fox.

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs

View OleGrump's profile

OleGrump

496 posts in 849 days


#10 posted 09-17-2019 01:47 PM

One word of caution regarding holdfasts: FORGED, NOT CAST !!! Cast holdfasts will only prove to be a big disappointment. Forged will be your constant companions. Once you get accustomed to using holdfasts and their versatility, you will LOVE them. In all likelihood, a good pair of forged holdfasts will outlive a few owners. I’ve had mine for over 25 years, and they have never failed me yet!

-- OleGrump

View Robert's profile

Robert

3533 posts in 1985 days


#11 posted 09-17-2019 02:20 PM

You’re good on the thickness. You really need at least 2” for a hold fast to work properly and not wobble out the hole.

The vise should just bolt on to the bottom. Some people do through bolts, but I’ve never had a problem with lag bolts.

IMO the Grammercy holdfasts are the best.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Lazyman's profile (online now)

Lazyman

3923 posts in 1892 days


#12 posted 09-17-2019 02:36 PM


One word of caution regarding holdfasts: FORGED, NOT CAST !!! Cast holdfasts will only prove to be a big disappointment. Forged will be your constant companions. Once you get accustomed to using holdfasts and their versatility, you will LOVE them. In all likelihood, a good pair of forged holdfasts will outlive a few owners. I ve had mine for over 25 years, and they have never failed me yet!

- OleGrump

Yup. Made that mistake. I got a cast one cheap and wouldn’t give them to a friend.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Wintergreen78's profile

Wintergreen78

35 posts in 244 days


#13 posted 09-17-2019 03:07 PM

I’m just going to repeat what a few other’s have already said. Toe in the top of the vise. I have one similar to the one you are looking at, and that helped a lot. Also, lining the jaws with leather or that rubberized stuff is also nice.

I bought some cheap holdfasts that didn’t work at all. Threw those out and got the gramercy ones, which work great.

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Tony1212

351 posts in 2239 days


#14 posted 09-18-2019 01:30 PM


One word of caution regarding holdfasts: FORGED, NOT CAST !!! Cast holdfasts will only prove to be a big disappointment. Forged will be your constant companions. Once you get accustomed to using holdfasts and their versatility, you will LOVE them. In all likelihood, a good pair of forged holdfasts will outlive a few owners. I ve had mine for over 25 years, and they have never failed me yet!

- OleGrump

The ones I bought off of Amazon were forged and I’m mostly happy with them. I think that there might be some user error with the issues I seem to be having. Still learning. I’ll give it some more time before getting the Gramercy holdfasts to see if it’s just me.

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs

View MPython's profile

MPython

166 posts in 317 days


#15 posted 09-19-2019 03:11 PM


Sometimes I need to help them seat and stick by using my hand to push the straight part through the bench. But once it does seat, it work fine.

- Tony1212

Tony, I’m not sure what you mean by this. Are you seating the hold fast with hand pressure? If so, there’s a easier way: hit it with a mallet. I use a dead blow hammer, one of those orange plastic clad ones. Slide the straight shank into the hole in your bench top and place the pad on your workpiece. Then whack the top of the curve with the mallet. To remove, tap the back of the shank with the mallet and the hold fast will come free. You can often do it with hand pressure, but this is a lot easier and it doesn’t hurt your hand.

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