workbench leg vise or twin screw on front of bench?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Hand Tools forum

Forum topic by dpjeansonne posted 03-21-2013 12:40 AM 11908 views 1 time favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View dpjeansonne's profile


75 posts in 4129 days

03-21-2013 12:40 AM

Topic tags/keywords: vise workbench

I am trying to decide on either a leg vice or twin screw vise. I know some woodworkers lean very strong to both vises.

My thoughts are that the leg vise is less costly to build but needs additional support on edge planning of long boards and more trouble to deal with the lower depth adjustment. The Veritas twin vise is relatively expensive but is highly recommended. Is using two independent single screws in one chop not good? Is the racking and trouble having to set two screws just not worth the effort and added costs?

Or do you throw both out and use a conventional quick release shoulder vise on the front?

Pros and cons and all positions would be appreciated.

-- Cajun Don, Louisiana

17 replies so far

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3887 days

#1 posted 03-21-2013 01:21 AM

I use this vise. Actually I liked the first one so well I bought a second one and replaced the end vise with it. The only other vise I want is a Moxon twin screw I can set up on the top edge of the bench for dovetailing.

View jmos's profile


917 posts in 3285 days

#2 posted 03-21-2013 01:01 PM

Lot’s of combinations will work well.

I’ve got a leg vise on the front of my bench (bench detail in my blog if your interested), and a twinscrew vise on the end (home made with two independent screws) I’m very happy with both.

I use a sliding deadman for support of longer pieces in conjunction with the leg vise. I like the combination of the two on the face, as it allows me to clamp panels to the face of the bench to plane edges (using a holdfast in the deadman on one side and pinching the panel whit one edge of the leg vise on the other side). My leg vise works well, but I need to add some leather to the jaws. Sometimes I have trouble getting a good grip with just the maple jaws.

I’m sure the independent twin screw vise is more effort to run in and out than the linked twinscrew (LV, LN, or Hovarter for example) but I didn’t want to spend the money. I spaced the dog holes in my bench fairly close to avoid having to run the vise in and out too far

I’ve been using the bench for over a year now and I’m perfectly happy.

-- John

View dpjeansonne's profile


75 posts in 4129 days

#3 posted 03-21-2013 03:36 PM

I enjoyed your blog on the build. I have not settled on the top material—yellow pine, multi-layers of plywood, MDF, and now LVL.
I am liking the approach you used. We are very much in sink on the vise economics. I am not sure that I can justify the Veritas Twin Screw at $280+ since I don’t think I would get that much use. The convenience doesn’t seem to justify the costs difference. I think I can deal with the extra effort two independent screws would require.

Thanks for sharing.

-- Cajun Don, Louisiana

View redSLED's profile


790 posts in 2808 days

#4 posted 03-21-2013 05:32 PM

I’ve been recently planning my future workbench in detail, and have been reading up on woodworking vises every night for the past 3 weeks. IMO, I see your front vise choice broken down into the following very basic pros and cons:

1. Independent twin screw vise
- hassle using for 99% of the time and typical work unless you do some kind of special non-rectilinear work repetitively that makes this vise perfect for you and you only (and you have a third arm to handle the wood)
- you could custom make this using 2 bar clamps and pivoting jaw faces somehow
- you will always get frequent bewildered comments about your vise if you post workbench pictures of it

2. Linked twin screw
- currently trendy but definitely useful and nice to have
- issue of taking a lot of horizontal space in front of your workbench, that is, if you like resting your belly/hips/thighs/groin against your bench top while you work, otherwise it may be fine
- same as a regular single screw face vise but longer plus really good for very firm and square holding of wood vertically between the screws (and how often will you do this?)
- still will rack somewhat when cranking hard with wood on top or side (and will you really need to tighten that hard?)

3. Leg vise
- firmer/squarer clamping with less cranking pressure (how really important is this for you?)
- “fussy” lower peg adjustment is a negative if like to work fast/efficiently, unless you’re using Benchcrafted’s Crisscross mechanism or similar
- can still rack if want to hold wood vertically, or not, on the side really tightly (again, how often will you do this?)
- if you have the time, money and integrated bench design then build a leg vise!
- join old-school woodworking purists and cause envy among single screw vise users

4. Single screw shoulder/face vise
- the workhorse vice, no pretentions
- takes up less space horizontally than 1. or 2. but pretty much the same as 3.
- easiest to install, cheapest, most abundant new or used option among vises
- should work fine for 90%+ of your front vise clamping needs (the other times you can adapt or change how you clamp stuff)
- join a worldwide group of woodworkers who envy leg vise owners

Or forget everything above – and cancel your yearly subscriptions to everything, save money by cutting back on beer, driving, entertainment, family birthdays and consumer electronics and blow your dough/credit on a good patternmaker’s vise! Hope that helps.

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View PurpLev's profile


8601 posts in 4564 days

#5 posted 03-21-2013 05:42 PM

it really depends on what you are planning to use the vise for.

if you need to clamp really wide boards, the twin screw may be a better approach (although there are alternatives ways to hold those boards as well). if not, or if you are trying to keep costs at a minimum than a leg vise might be the one.

I have a leg vise on mine and find it is perfect for my needs. you can check it out in my workbench blog.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Richforever's profile


757 posts in 4636 days

#6 posted 03-21-2013 06:38 PM

I use my Veritas twin screw vise for almost everything. It is easy to use, doesn’t rack; and has a disengage pin in case the left and right screws need to be set differently. I’ve had it for a few years, and would buy it again if I were starting over. It is long enough to hold pieces for hand planing along the front of my wall-mounted bench.

-- Rich, Seattle, WA

View dpjeansonne's profile


75 posts in 4129 days

#7 posted 03-21-2013 08:11 PM

By single screw shoulder/face vise, I assume you mean as crack49 shows in picture. These seem very common practice today.
By your comments I think you like the single screw and the leg comes in 2nd.

Thanks to all responses. They are all appropriate.

-- Cajun Don, Louisiana

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16979 posts in 3534 days

#8 posted 03-21-2013 08:28 PM

Cajun Don, good luck on your decision.

I am a pure leg vise man and wouldn’t have any other at the front of my bench. Didn’t spend extra for hardware to keep me from adjusting the parallel guide; well over 75% of the material being worked is an inch or less, so adjustment isn’t required.

From redsled came a great set of thoughts; he’s clearly been doing a great deal of research. But I’ll disagree with ”- if you have the time, money and integrated bench design then build a leg vise.” Time is equal to a twin vise install, less that a shoulder or wagon vise certainly. Money, in its simplest form, is a $50 threaded rod w/ handle. Integrated design consists of a benchfront that is co-planar / flat. No overhang. Now, he could be referring to a sliding deadman, and that does require thought (and is highly recommended if your bench is 6’ or longer). Even without it, though, longer stoock can be edge planed by using holdfasts in the other front leg of the bench as needed.

Lots of pics and editorial content in my blogs too, if you’re interested.

Again, good luck!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View bdjohns1's profile


43 posts in 3608 days

#9 posted 03-22-2013 04:49 PM

One cheaper option than a criss-cross is a linear bearing and a piece of precision steel rod:

I just got the parts for this – $15 for the bearing (ebay), $40 for the rod (, $40 for the Acme screw (the tail vise screw from Lee Valley).

More than the skatewheel solution, but unlike the pre criss-cross Glide leg vise, no pin adjustments needed ever. Unlike the criss-cross, an easy retrofit into an existing leg vise – just need a hole for the bearing in your leg.

-- Ben - resident cheese whiz.

View TerryDowning's profile


1146 posts in 3033 days

#10 posted 03-22-2013 05:22 PM

An even less expensive option is Paul’s V8 degree powered work bench No additional Hardware required.

-- - Terry

View Ron Harper's profile

Ron Harper

133 posts in 2832 days

#11 posted 03-23-2013 10:25 PM

Yes, as implied above, it really depends on what you intend to build. If you see yourself planing a lot of stock longer than 3 feet, i ‘d say go with a leg vise.

-- Ron in Kokomo

View cpd011's profile


91 posts in 4153 days

#12 posted 03-23-2013 11:15 PM

I already had a screw when I built my leg vise so my end cost was around $10 for some screws and a dowel for the handle. I absolutely love the clamping force and do not find setting the pin on the parallel guide to be fussy or take much more than a second or two. My vote was for cheap, strong and unique.

View bondogaposis's profile


5891 posts in 3267 days

#13 posted 03-23-2013 11:40 PM

You only have to change the pin on the leg vise when you are changing stock thickness, it’s really not a big deal.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View HorizontalMike's profile


7902 posts in 3830 days

#14 posted 03-23-2013 11:52 PM

I have the twin-screw vise on my workbench, but find myself using my end vise more often than the twin-screw. That said, woodworking wise I use mostly power tools with just a touch of hand tool work. IMO, the twin-screw is geared more for hand tool users, so the more you are into hand tools, the more you will find the twin-screw useful.

Plus, I use surface clamps quite a bit, hence all the dog-holes on the top as well as the face of the bench.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View dpjeansonne's profile


75 posts in 4129 days

#15 posted 03-24-2013 12:37 AM

I really like your bench. The center trays seem like a great idea and saves on the glued-up top. I like having the opening for more clamping options. Do you find any negatives from this design verses a solid top?

Would you go with the twin screw again or maybe a leg vise?

-- Cajun Don, Louisiana

showing 1 through 15 of 17 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

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