A Workbench's Progress #4: Squeeze play

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Blog entry by TheGravedigger posted 05-31-2007 05:56 PM 2700 reads 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: How much wood will $80 buy? Part 4 of A Workbench's Progress series Part 5: Leveling the playing field »

After the holes were bored and the jaws were shaped, it was time for installation. Every vise hardware set is probably a little different, so I won’t get too technical here. The bottom line is that the mount assembly is positioned on the underside of the benchtop and screwed or lag-bolted into place. Then, the jaw is threaded onto the guide rods and screw, which are then run through their respective holes in the mount and secured. The screw is then tightened to snug the jaw up against the bench face in proper alignment and screws then secure the two together. Simple enough.

I added a slight complication on my front vise. As you know, my benchtop is whitewood, and rather soft for a clamping surface. I really wanted a maple-to-maple face for better wear. Since the jaw block extends below the bottom edge of the bench I also liked the idea of extending this face downwards to give a larger clamping area. This was the purpose of the 4/4 stock I purchased in the last installment (in case you were wondering).

My description of this may be (probably is) unclear, so below is a photo of the final product showing the added maple face:

Front vise detail

The problem was that I didn't want the maple to sit proud to the edge of the bench. I reasoned that this would cause problems when clamping long boards for edge work. This required recessing the maple face to sit flush with the edge of the bench. I finally decided on my router for the job.

After setting the top on edge, I clamped a pair of 30" 2x4's flush with either side for a bearing surface, and then a stop block to limit the travel to 18" (the length of the insert). Why specifically 30" studs? So they could later be sawhorse legs--waste not, want not.
I then took my router with a 1/2" straight bit and its router table insert still attached, and made a series of shallow passes. The result after the first pass is shown below:

First pass of recess

I kept this up, taking 1/4" per pass till close, and then slowly sneaking up on the required depth. A final ultra-light pass cleaned things up, and the results are below:

Finished recess

It was then just a matter of taking the facepiece (with appropriate holes drilled), and gluing and screwing it into the recess:

Attached facepiece

Yes, I know I didn't plug the screw holes, but my back hurt.

You may be wondering why I only mentioned the front vise and not the end vise. The biggest reason is that I didn't want to repeat this operation six feet in the air balanced on a ladder. Aside from my phobia about controlling a 20,000 rpm router while trying to keep my footing, there are practical excuses. The end vise will primarily provide clamping force for the bench dogs, and occasionally used to hold small pieces. Also, the end-grain will be much more resistant to wear than the face-grain. I guess time will tell whether I made the right decision or not.

With the vises mounted, it was time to work on the surface.

More on that next time.

-- Robert - Visit my woodworking blog:

7 comments so far

View markrules's profile


146 posts in 4349 days

#1 posted 05-31-2007 06:28 PM

I like it. I’m having regrets with my bench now that I see how nice your’s is turning out.

View mot's profile


4922 posts in 4270 days

#2 posted 05-31-2007 06:29 PM

You’re really doing an awesome job with this. Thanks for the construction details. Good choice on the recess.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 4544 days

#3 posted 05-31-2007 07:07 PM

Your explaination and pictures were done well. Nice job with the router, too.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View WayneC's profile


13794 posts in 4331 days

#4 posted 06-01-2007 03:03 AM

Great post.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 4395 days

#5 posted 06-01-2007 05:33 PM

It is coming along nicely. Don’t worry about the extra holes, you can fill them in later.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View David's profile


1969 posts in 4372 days

#6 posted 07-01-2007 03:33 PM

Robert -

Excellent update, and great phoography. This series could be submitted for publication – everyone could benefit from your journey.


View Karson's profile


35152 posts in 4634 days

#7 posted 07-01-2007 03:36 PM

Good looking vise.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

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