Woodworking workbench vise (creative idea)

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Blog entry by john1102 posted 12-06-2011 06:07 PM 6505 reads 1 time favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I am looking at building a workbench and looking at a less expensive version for a vise. I came across this website and saw this pony clamp version being used as a vise and wondered why i don’t see more of these used on benches. Has anyone used this type of vise and what pros an cons are there. Please use the link below to view the vise/workbench.

Thank you

10 comments so far

View Tedstor's profile


1643 posts in 2654 days

#1 posted 12-06-2011 06:42 PM

By the time you buy quality 3/4” pipe clamps, pipes, and bronze bushings; I’m not sure you wouldn’t be better off just buying veneer presses or vise screws from Lee Valley. You can make pretty much any vise imagineable with such screws, at modest additional cost, and would be less fussy to install (imo).
But the pipe clamps would certainly work, if thats what you want.

View john1102's profile


58 posts in 2690 days

#2 posted 12-06-2011 07:28 PM

I am planning on modifying that portion of the vise. Installing the pipe clamp as fixed and just using different spaced dog holes to accomodate wood sizes. Theres no reason to need that amount of adjustment.

View AndyMcKenzie's profile


18 posts in 2416 days

#3 posted 12-06-2011 09:19 PM

The new-fangled work bench does something pretty similar to this.

I’m also doing something similar for a cheap quick-fix solution on my new bench. Here’s what I did:

1) I used clamps for 1/2” pipe. Harbor Freight clamps seem to be working fine, and the pipe was cheap. That made the process considerably cheaper (and more adjustable!) than a traditional face vise.
2) I attached them to the end of the bench by screwing a piece of 2×4 with four holes in it to the underside of the bench. The pipe gets threaded through the hole and the sliding part of the clamp slips onto it. Since I’m only using two clamps, I can move them around if I want to support a larger piece of wood. I put a piece of scrap (pine for testing—if I keep the system I’ll replace it with something more solid) with some notches cut into one edge on the pipes, and drilled holes in the clamps to screw the wood in place. It’s pretty solid, and allowed me to drill holes for bench dogs.

I think I paid about $12 for the pipe and $4 each for the two HF clamps on sale. The wood and screws I used were leftover bits, so my total cost was around $20.

How does it work?

It’s alright. Adjusting it is a pain—I need to first loosen the screws all the way, then reach under the bench to adjust the pipe to the correct rough length, then tighten the clamps. That’s kind of a nuisance. The holes I drilled in the mounting bracket are close to the right size, but a little loose, so the “vice” tends to droop. That could be fixed by putting in some bushings that are closer in size, but that adds complexity and cost. Permanently mounting the sliding jaw on the underside of the bench would also improve things, but would reduce the versatility—I’d need four sliding jaws to mount the two clamps I’m using. It is a temptation, though. I’ve also considered replacing the sliding jaws with set screws run through the bracket to lock the pipe in place, but that again would add a fair amount of cost and complexity to something designed as a cheap and quick solution.

On the plus side, it’s seriously adjustable—I can open the vise out to 12”, and have 6”, 12”, or 18” between the pipes by switching which hole they’re in and replacing the jaw. They can tighten down quite securely—I used that clamp while cutting my first saw-cut rabbet a couple months ago—and they’re adjustable individually, so I can clamp oddly sized pieces if I need to.

Would I do it again?

In some circumstances, yes. It was quick, it was easy, it was cheap, and it works. At the moment, though, I’m thinking of pulling them off and replacing the whole system with a wagon vise for use with bench dogs and a leg vise for just holding pieces of wood. If people are interested, I can take some pictures of what I have and post them—I’ll watch this thread, so just ask here.

-- More of my rantings:

View Shanem's profile


130 posts in 2488 days

#4 posted 12-07-2011 07:43 PM

So, in a way you have quick release built in? I need to look into this more.
Would bar clamps be better?

View AndyMcKenzie's profile


18 posts in 2416 days

#5 posted 12-07-2011 09:48 PM

Pretty much, yeah.

I wouldn’t like using bar clamps for this. The round pipe is easy to build a bracket for, and you can easily rotate the clamp if you want. That wouldn’t necessarily be true for a bar clamp. Also, the bar clamp would be harder to adjust—having the moving jaw lock in place and the stationary jaw be adjustable means you have the best of both worlds. I’ll go get some pictures and post them this evening so you can get a clearer view of what I did.

-- More of my rantings:

View AndyMcKenzie's profile


18 posts in 2416 days

#6 posted 12-07-2011 10:52 PM

OK, I had time sooner than I expected. I’ve made some changes to the original design. I moved it closer to the front of the bench, which is why the vise jaw sticks out—I’ll build a new one that fits better eventually. I also added a second piece of 2×4 scrap to the mount; the whole thing is a LOT more stable now, and may be worth continuing to use. Or I may decide to replace the whole thing… I haven’t decided.

Here’s the moving jaw, removed from the mount:
end vise 01

Here’s the back of the bracket. note that you just have to reach under the bench to release the sliding jaw on the pipe clamps.
end vise 03

Here’s what it looks like from above. Note that I moved the bracket forward—I need to build a new jaw for the vise, so it won’t stick out in front of the bench anymore.
end vise 02

-- More of my rantings:

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2715 days

#7 posted 12-07-2011 10:54 PM

I would think the problem would be racking due to unequal pressure from the clamps. The quick release function is nice, though. Someone should add a gear to the handles and run a chain, lol.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View AndyMcKenzie's profile


18 posts in 2416 days

#8 posted 12-07-2011 11:54 PM

Yeah, that’s an issue. I suspect it’s not much worse than any other two-screw vise, though. And if all you want is to hold something tightly, it works well. For anything delicate… well, that could be a problem.

-- More of my rantings:

View JimAspin2's profile


7 posts in 2540 days

#9 posted 01-27-2013 10:47 PM

Are you still using this set up? If so, have you made any further modifications? If not, what are you using now?

View AndyMcKenzie's profile


18 posts in 2416 days

#10 posted 01-27-2013 11:14 PM

I’m not, because I sold the house the bench was in, and left it there. It worked fairly well, but it’s not perfect. In the end, what really doomed it was my switch to hand tools. I’ve almost completely dropped my use of power tools—I still use a chop saw and a drill press semi-regularly, but that’s about it. The band saw may get to be used more this summer. For that sort of use, I needed a vise that was simpler to adjust, and having it on the front of the bench would have been better. Also, that bench was way higher than was comfortable; I built a new one (commentary here) which is something like 3 inches lower.

If I needed a cheap end vise, I’d consider doing the pipe-clamp thing again, but it’s not ideal.

-- More of my rantings:

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