The Etaux from Old Salem’s Shop (Article from Woodworking Magazine)

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Blog entry by Tinnocker posted 02-25-2011 02:44 AM 3319 reads 2 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was reading my RSS feeds the other day and came across this article in Woodworking magazine. As soon as I saw it I knew that I had to make one for myself! I have a Bessey vise that I got for a few dollars at the Columbus Flea market here in NJ. You know the old saying, you get what you pay for? Well I did! Needless to say it still served some kind of purpose for me, I tuned it up and made the best of it.
When I looked at the article in WW online zne I started to get excited and went happily scrounging in my offcuts for some nice wood. I still had some nice oak from the futon I salvaged, I had some 3/4 all thread and couplings, nuts and hardened steel washers from a machine that was being scrapped and went to work.
This was a seat of the pants design for me. No sketches no drawings, just the picture from the magazine. A lot of my tools are built this way.
I am ashamed of my self and apologize for not taking any progress pics but I was so exited to get this done that I didn’t bring the camera to the shop. I worked on this sucker all day, I started at 5 AM and finished at 4:00 this evening, (just in time to make dinner, it was my turn!).
So here are the finished pics, if any one wants to build one for themselves I will be happy to do a sketch with dimensions for them.
The first shot is poor old Bessey, She’s a poor substitute for a real vise but she’s all I had the dough for! all the other shots are of my new beautiful Etaux Vise! Hand made by yours truly

-- Ted, Browns Mills, NJ Darn! I cut it 3 times and it's still too short! I get ideas for things that I can make to make things easier for me to make!

9 comments so far

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 2835 days

#1 posted 02-25-2011 03:25 AM

Very nice, very nice indeed.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View Splinterman's profile


23074 posts in 3356 days

#2 posted 02-25-2011 04:07 AM

Nice strong job…well done.

View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 2883 days

#3 posted 02-25-2011 04:14 AM

Nive job, nit I’d add a comment about the side slides. Of you tapered the edges and did a dovetail type cut where they go through the uprights, it would make it sturdier.

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3110 days

#4 posted 02-25-2011 04:31 AM

that is a great applience to a workbench both yours and the original Ètaux
and speciel the Skandinavien/europe bench can use the one from the first picture
thank´s for sharing them

take care

View DylanC's profile


204 posts in 2669 days

#5 posted 02-25-2011 05:03 AM

Let me see if I understand this…

You adjust the lower rod to the approximate width of the clamped material and then use the upper rod to tighten the vise? What did you use for the “nuts” and how do you keep them stationary in the wood, epoxy?

I like the idea of a DIY vise over store-bought….another project for my To-Do list.

-- Dylan C ...Seems like all ever I make is sawdust...

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4241 days

#6 posted 02-25-2011 02:57 PM

Very cool vise. I like the fact you can take it off. You sure made it look sturdy. Nice idea, great job.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Tinnocker's profile


107 posts in 2996 days

#7 posted 02-25-2011 03:09 PM

Thanks for the nice comments guys! Big Tiny I wish I had thought of that before I made the slides! (Where were you when my brain needed a nudge!) I think I will add that feature to the vice, Rats! Now I can’t say that it’s a finished project!
DylanC that’s exactly how the lower mechanism works, It is used to adjust the camber (?) of the vice so that there is less racking. I used 3/4-16 all thread for the 2 main screws, and for the handle and the back chop I used 3/4 coupling nuts The coupler goes all the way through the back chop. I drilled a 1 in. diameter hole and then used a chisel to make it the same shape as the nut. I then ground 3 sets of groves around the coupler, moistened the wood and used gorilla glue (great stuff!) to hold every thing in place. I did the same thing to the adjusting screw at the bottom of the vise only using a regular 3/4-16 nut. I used hardened steel washers (Scavenged from a machine someone threw away) and cotter pins I’ve had since working in a machine shop over 30 years ago (I save everything, you just never know when you’ll need it!) I used a piece of 3/8 rod for the handle and made 2 knobs held on with cotter pins for the handle. The main body of the Etaux is actually from the futon legs which were 2 1/3 X3 1/2 which I jointed and held together with 3/4 in dowels and my fave, gorilla glue. 3 pieces of oak made the jaws and the clamp base. The only thing I would do different would be (and will be) is to use Big Tiny’s suggestion to make the slides a dovetail. After I assembled everything I noticed that that was the only problem with the vise. There was enough play side to side to keep the jaws from coming together square until there was enough pressure to firmly clamp the objects. I will probably do a Sketchup of my vise and post it later.

Thanks for reading!

-- Ted, Browns Mills, NJ Darn! I cut it 3 times and it's still too short! I get ideas for things that I can make to make things easier for me to make!

View DylanC's profile


204 posts in 2669 days

#8 posted 02-26-2011 03:19 AM


You can fix the alignment of the existing slides by adding another block of wood or thin metal strap to each side. That should hold them in place. A Dovetail would need to be loose anyway because the “chops” are rarely parallel. Also, you may want to think about using regular hex nuts instead of full depth couplers. That would allow you to drill a 3/4” through hole for the threaded rod and then chisel out the 1-1/8 counterbore. Then your nuts would have a bearing face to sit on rather than rely on the shear strength of the Gorilla glue. A washer of some type on the bearing face would be good, but I don’t think it would be easy to do or even necessary. I’m not much of a SketchUp guy, but I work with Solidworks at work, so I worked up a quick drawing of what I am thinking…

Come to think of it, a dovetail probably would work well. Because of the way the coupler nuts are used, it would be a bad idea to turn either rod too much and get the chops too far out of parallel.

-- Dylan C ...Seems like all ever I make is sawdust...

View Tinnocker's profile


107 posts in 2996 days

#9 posted 02-26-2011 05:54 AM

Hi DylanC,
I used the full 3/4 coupling because I wanted a full thread in the back chop. I chiseled out the 6 corner hex shape the full width of the chop, I put the groves in the coupler because I knew it would add to the strength of the joint. It works great. I changed the slides today to the dovetails and there is no, none, nada racking to the jaws! Thanks again to Big Tiny coming to my rescue with the dovetail idea! I just finished up my Sketchup drawing for the Etaux vise and I will post for all to use.
Link to share this”

-- Ted, Browns Mills, NJ Darn! I cut it 3 times and it's still too short! I get ideas for things that I can make to make things easier for me to make!

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