Moxon Vise/Bench on Bench

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Project by Greg In Maryland posted 02-16-2014 12:46 AM 3090 views 20 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

In May I am taking a class where I have to cut something like 120 dovetails in five days. I don’t think this is an easy task for anyone—whether they are experienced or not. To make my life easier and perhaps increase the chance for success, I built this Moxon vise and bench on bench platform.

The entire unit is made of hard maple. The chops were 8/4 maple jointed/planned down to 1 3/4 inch. The platform was 4/4 maple jointed/planned down to 7/8 inch (or so) and then laminated. It is about 1 1/4 inch thick. Overall the platform is 33 inches wide by 21 1/2 inches deep and is 5 3/4 above the bench.

The finish is an oil/varnish mixture described on the Wood Whisperer’s forum: link. Cliff notes version, it is 1/3 Pratt & Lambert 38 Varnish, 1/3 Pure Tung Oil and 1/3 Mineral spirits. I combined the ingredients, mixed up and liberally applied it with a foam brush. After a few minutes I wiped it off and ta-da it’s finished! Because of the oil there is a slight yellowing, but not much. It has dried nicely and I am pleased with the process. It is easy and pretty idiot proof. For how I intend to use the appliance, it should be plenty durable. I used this finish on all the parts except the inside face of the fixed chop.

The vise pretty much follows the standard outline using BenchCrafted hardware and plan, except for a few enhancements:

The first is I added some ‘tabs’ on the end of the vise for the clamp and a 1/4 round cutout. I first saw these in CL10’s build: link and subsequently read that using a 1/4 round strengthens the transition. I like the way it looks and works, and would not hesitate to recommend this approach.

The second is that I made it 25 3/4 inches between the screws. I anticipate building a 24 inch chest, so this gives me a bit of wiggle room.

The third and biggest is that I made a ‘portable’ bench on bench platform. The platform is 33×21 1/2 inches and attached to the Moxon Vise via four bolts.

The bolts are countersunk and screw into a coupling nut: link and there are screws from the bottom ensuring that the coupling nut doesn’t go anywhere.

On the back there is a cleat to which the coupling nut is screwed into

I drilled holes for each nut and then smashed them in with a hammer (I only missed twice). By the time I was done, it was apparent that I did not need the bottom bolt. The fit was so tight that the nuts are not going anywhere.

The platform is simply held up with a scrap piece of wood placed under the back.

The point of making the platform detachable is so that I can easily store and transport it to my class. Most likely I will attach some sort of handle to the platform portion so I can carry it with one hand.

Finally, the BenchCrafted plans: link suggests that a mortise should be cut for the nut in the fixed chop. That seemed like a bunch of work to me and instead I drilled a slightly smaller hole and used the two nuts to screw the nut into the fixed chop. It worked perfectly and it isn’t budging at all.

Here is the requisite semi-action shot

Thanks for looking!


13 comments so far

View SPalm's profile


5007 posts in 2702 days

#1 posted 02-16-2014 01:07 AM

Nice one Greg.
I want to build one of these so badly. Thanks for the inspiration.

Very nice build,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View PioneerRob's profile


41 posts in 432 days

#2 posted 02-16-2014 01:42 AM


I have the problem of a non-functioning table saw in the middle of my shop, and no bench yet. Although a roubo workbench is high on my priority list, I just won’t have the time, tools, or money to make one in the next long while. This is a great idea, and should be relatively easier approach to fill the void.

-- Rob, Ontario

View Oldtool's profile


1984 posts in 1010 days

#3 posted 02-16-2014 01:43 AM

Nice work on this vise. Now start practicing your dovetails. Have fun.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View siavosh's profile


542 posts in 691 days

#4 posted 02-16-2014 02:22 AM

Pretty sweet, the benchcrafted kit is on my wishlist…

-- -- Discover the most interesting woodworking blogs

View Rick's profile


7826 posts in 1853 days

#5 posted 02-16-2014 03:18 AM

Very Nice indeed Greg! Thanks For Sharing!


-- Deodorant is like Common Sense. Those who need it the most, never use it.

View CL810's profile


2633 posts in 1808 days

#6 posted 02-16-2014 03:18 AM

Well done Greg. I really like the detachable platform.

Have you given any thought to an additional set of holes so you could move one the screws closer to the other? Say, 10” closer so there’s a 15” spread instead of 25”? Mine is 21.5” and there are times when I wonder if it would work smoother if closer.

-- "It's amazing how much can go wrong when you think you know what you're doing."

View JayT's profile


2901 posts in 1031 days

#7 posted 02-16-2014 04:27 AM

Nicely done, Greg. You’ll get a lot of good use out of it. I’m constantly using mine and don’t know what I would do without it.

-- "My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right." Abraham Lincoln

View CJay's profile


133 posts in 2051 days

#8 posted 02-16-2014 09:49 AM

Fantastic. By some strange coincidence i added something like this to my dream workshop list only yesterday. I love the look of the Benchcrafted stuff, i wish they had a UK outlet.

-- Chris Boreham, Oxfordshire, UK - -

View Andygulfcoast's profile


27 posts in 657 days

#9 posted 02-16-2014 12:41 PM


One question, though. How much does that weigh? Can you lift it by yourself?

View blackcherry's profile


3212 posts in 2643 days

#10 posted 02-16-2014 05:24 PM

Great blog on this unit, it should inspirer plenty to take the plunge. I build one similar a couple years back, its a handy unit. Enjoy your new workmate….BC

View kiefer's profile


3572 posts in 1487 days

#11 posted 02-16-2014 10:41 PM

That is a helper that anyone can use no matter what kind of bench .
Great looking Moxon Vise and the portable feature is a great idea ,have fun with this at the class .
You will be the envy in the class .

-- Kiefer 松

View Greg In Maryland's profile

Greg In Maryland

448 posts in 1818 days

#12 posted 02-17-2014 11:36 PM

Thanks for all the kind comments.

Andy, I am not sure how much it weighs, but each component should be easily carried. As I mentioned in my post, I am going to put a handle on the platform so I can carry it with one hand. Otherwise, trying to get my arms around a 33×21 1/2 inch somewhat heavy object is a bit difficult. The vise portion is very portable

Keifer, I suspect that any envy of my classmates will completely evaporate once they evaluate my dovetails :). I have far too many tools and far few skills to really be envied. I wish it were the opposite.


View mafe's profile


9880 posts in 1909 days

#13 posted 02-19-2014 12:52 PM

Wauuu Greg.
It’s a beauty.
Lovely extension to the work bench.
Best thoughts,

-- Mad F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

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