Torsion Box Assembly Table #6: Front Vice

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Blog entry by Morton posted 06-15-2010 02:07 AM 4962 reads 5 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Final Thoughts Part 6 of Torsion Box Assembly Table series no next part

The Assembly Table has been in great use for the last months.  It’s awesome to have a perfectly flat reference surface on which to assemble projects.

Front Vice Old Position

However, one problem I’ve had since I replaced the top is the front vice.  My old top was 1.5” thick and the front vice was level with the top.  The new torsion box top is thicker (about 4”) and so the top of the vice sits about 2” below the table top.  That makes it near impossible to clamp many things and work from the top.  In addition, the vice dog isn’t high enough to be above the table top, rendering it useless.

Also, the back jaw of the vice is just bolted to the top’s cherry edging and therefore it’s proud of the front edge.  This is the same as it was on the previous top, but I want to fix that and make it inline with the tabletop’s front edge for clamping longer boards.

So, I took the time to recess the front vice both vertically and horizontally.  I needed to raise it about 1.5” into the torsion box and .5” back from the front.

I unscrewed the torsion box top from the base and flipped the whole thing over.  I then traced where I needed to remove material and measured exactly how much I wanted to remove in both directions.  I took off the vice, which is attached with 2 bolts from below and 2 screws into the back jaw.

Front Vice Inset

I started with the the front piece.  Using my Lie-Nielsen carcass saw, I cut through the cherry edging, which surrounds the torsion box MDF.  The small piece I removed wasn’t attached at all (the screws were on either side), so it popped off no problem.  It turns out that it’s thickness was exactly what I needed to remove, so I lucked out there not needing to add or remove any more material from the front edge.

I started using the router to remove material from below, but with 1.5” to go and a large area, that was going to take awhile.  So, I switched over to a drill and forstner bit to remove the bulk of the MDF (skin) and plywood (filler blocks in the torsion box).  That went well, and then I could use the router from there to clean up the recess.

Underside Recessed

I used a flush trim bit and freehanded the first couple of passes to my pencil lines before the bearing got low enough to follow my first passes.  One mistake I made at this point was that I went all around the outside first, which meant that as I went lower, I had no support for the router base to get to the middle section.  Instead I should have gone front to back, getting to full depth – which would have left material behind the router to support the base.  In any case, I was able to chisel out the middle section which wasn’t a big deal.

With material removed, I placed the vice into the hole.  I got it as close to 90 degrees to the top as I could.  It’s now sitting just below the hardboard top and just about inline with the front cherry edge.  I added some leather to the back jaw and a piece of cherry to the front jaw.  I’m definitely looking forward to lots of great use with the new position!

Front Vice Done

Front Vice

-- Morton -

7 comments so far

View John Stegall's profile

John Stegall

505 posts in 3512 days

#1 posted 06-15-2010 03:21 AM

It looks very well done.

-- jstegall

View woody57's profile


650 posts in 3423 days

#2 posted 06-15-2010 04:04 AM

That is a very fine table you made and I like the way you have attached the vise. You should get many years of use out of this and it will make the work more enjoyable. Thanks for the post. I might have to make one of these for myself.

-- Emmett, from Georgia

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 3481 days

#3 posted 06-15-2010 04:42 AM

Nice job. Really nice videos. I’m still working off the old double 3/4” plywood top that I mounted the vice without recess. I have wanted to recess that vice since I installed it.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View Will Stokes's profile

Will Stokes

267 posts in 3350 days

#4 posted 06-15-2010 03:40 PM

Nice job, inspiring. :-) You also have a great vice!

View SPalm's profile


5320 posts in 3877 days

#5 posted 06-16-2010 02:08 PM

Sweet. That is a really nice modification. Mounting vises is harder than it looks.

You done good,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View a1Jim's profile


117090 posts in 3572 days

#6 posted 06-16-2010 06:51 PM

well done

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View bigike's profile


4052 posts in 3284 days

#7 posted 01-12-2011 10:19 PM

nice job.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

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