Monday, 30 July 2012

Bench Crafted Moxon Vice

I had originally planned to make a new work bench and install the Moxon vice a permanent feature. After having a good look at the bench it was going to replace, I decided it would be easier to adapt this bench rather than build a new one.  
Here are the parts for the Moxon vice, simple, sturdy and very well made. The suede leather is to line the jaws. 

The first thing I did was to remove the vice which simply unscrewed from leg. I also removed the cross bar and dispensed with the sliding dead man. This would  allow me to sit at the bench and tuck my legs underneath, making close chisel work much more comfortable. I have also moved the bench top so that the overhang is on the right hand side, which will prevent the left hand leg from getting in the way.

The apron is 4" deep and the top is 1 3/4" which was perfect for holes to go in the middle of the 5" jaws. the holes for the rods were done on the drill press, but the holes through the apron had to be eye balled as the top was already assembled. You can see a rod positioned in the first hole as I drilled the second. I made sure the jaw protruded 2 mm as it will drop slightly once installed and it's much easier to plane the jaw level rather than the whole top!

Here is a shot from under the bench showing how the nuts just miss the underside of the1 3/4" thick top.

The nuts on the front side had to be recessed into apron. The nut could be captured with a square hole but it is neater and stronger to cut a matching hexagon.

Once the vice was installed hand planing it level was done quickly.

One of the problems with twin screw vices is that they wrack vertically. Obviously the nearer you get the screws to the top the better this will be, so with the holes only 2 1/2" down, this vice is pretty good. However as I often use very small pieces I also tapered the jaw by 2 mm over the 5" depth, which meant the jaws nipped up at the top first, just what I was after. You can see the slight taper in the picture above.

With a quick spray of dry PTFE lubricant (as recommended) the wheels ran very sweetly and worked just as expected. The depth of opening is limited by the capacity of the 8" screws, although I managed a 3" maximum which is more than enough for my cabinet making. After playing around with the wheels I actually reduced the capacity by winding in the threads a bit more under the top. This prevented the protruding screws from digging into my palms as I spun the wheels.

All that was left was to glue on the suede, round over the edges, fill the old holes and apply a coat of finish.
I'll be bringing this bench to the European woodworking show as well as Yandles, both in September.
I think we are going to become good friends!

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