Building A Versatile Bench Top Moxon Vice

There are times when you need to hold a board in a vise securely for joinery or other work. Problem is my end vise has a screw going through the center and guide bars on either side to help prevent racking of the vice’s holding surface. A wide board won’t fit in between the screw and guide rods preventing the use of the vise on wider stock. A 17th century woodworker, Joseph Moxon came up with a simple but effective design for a vise that would hold wider stock vertically. The Moxon Vise.

A quick look at this simple vise and use, plus a bit of history can be found at this link from Popular Woodworking.

This style of vise has recently become popular among woodworkers, especially those who choose to work with hand powered tools. Choosing to do a majority of my woodworking with hand tools, I found that I could have used a Moxon vise more than once. This post is my take on the vise and what I came up with for my version of the much needed Moxon vise.

I have a tendency of designing a project as I go and this project certainly progressed that way. That being said, my Moxon vise ended up being a prototype… with all of it’s “scratching the head what to do next” thinking.

After a brainstorming session, including a lot of direction forward then backward then forward again, I was able to finally fashion all of the pieces for the Moxon vise. I decided early on in my design to use dimensioned rock maple for strength and availability. The circle part of the handles were made up using 3/4″ birch ply. Here is what the vise looks like with all pieces cut, drilled and sanded:

Moxon vise unasembled pieces
I also used 5/8″ common threaded shaft, bolts and 6x fine thread dry wall screws available at any of the box stores to keep it easy to find thoseĀ  parts. My band saw cut all of the parts and all holes drilled and counter sunk using the drill press. 5/8″ washers and 1/4″ drill rod shafts complete the materials used.

This is it’s look attached to my bench. Dimensions are: 10-1/2″ between threaded rods, 3″ from threaded rod to vise end (left and right), vise jaw depth 3-7/8″ and jaws opening max to 10″. The capacity of the vise may not sound large enough for some but for me, I build small and is more than adequate for my purposes. The vise width could be extended without problems if need be. The wider the vise though, I believe more of problem of racking unless the diameter of the screws be increased. This build works quite well with the sizes mentioned. Testing it without using a suede or rubber insert, proved to be outstanding. With just moderate tightening I couldn’t move stock held by the vise.

The handle mounts are pinned with 1/8″ steel shafts to prevent slippage. The center maple block houses the front-most 5/8″ bolt which is fused to the shaft and turns between two washers.

This is the backside view of the Moxon vise. The blocks house two 5/8″ bolts, keeping the threaded shafts inline, helping to prevent racking.

I designed this vise with a built in clamps on each end. The vise is quickly attached anywhere along the top of my bench. Overall the vise works very well and I know it is going to get a lot of use.

Presently I don’t have plans made up for it but if enough requests are made I will post plans. Let me know if you are interested in a comment below.