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All Replies on Whats so good about a leg vise?

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View Tedstor's profile

Whats so good about a leg vise?

by Tedstor
posted 10-25-2013 02:03 PM


33 replies so far

View JustJoe's profile

JustJoe

1554 posts in 1871 days


#1 posted 10-25-2013 02:20 PM

This guy summed up the answer quite clearly in the second line of his blog. (I think leg vises gained popularity when...)

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View unbob's profile

unbob

800 posts in 1736 days


#2 posted 10-25-2013 02:20 PM

Just installed one on an existing bench a few weeks ago.
It has a clear advantage of holding thin pieces as the lower part of the leg is adjustable for jaw angle, where a regular vise tends to want to spit out a thin piece.
It also holds work better for heavy chisel work, slip a block under the leg, makes for a much more solid hold then the regular vise.

View Tedstor's profile

Tedstor

1643 posts in 2465 days


#3 posted 10-25-2013 03:02 PM

Joe- Many tools have become famous lately for THAT very reason. No one even knew what a fore plane was until CS wrote an article about one. The next day, ebay searches for fore planes trended off the charts. LOL.
If only I could get advance notice of his articles…....I could buy futures in obsolete tools and become filthy rich on insider trading.

In all seriousness, that article also pointed out some possible advantages. Accomodating larger workpieces seems like a legit upside. Being able to clamp piece close to the screw might be of benefit, but I’ve never had a piece slip out of my metal vises. In my case, cost would be legit since I got the screw assembly for peanuts. And they do look cool. As Dieon Sanders said “if you look good- you feel good, if you feel good- you play good”. LOL.

View JustJoe's profile

JustJoe

1554 posts in 1871 days


#4 posted 10-25-2013 03:24 PM

Yes, each generation chooses one or two people to annoint as woodworking gods to imitate. I remember the mid-eighties when Norm was at his peak and you couldn’t go to a Habitat For Humanity build – even in central TX in August – without seeing a dozen guys in flannel shirts. I wonder how many sweatshops went out of business when he retired? And the biscuit jointers – the man must have helped to sell 10 million of those things. I’m not knocking any of these guys, but it is cyclic and I’m sure 20 years from now people will have moved on to something bigger, better, and just different enough to demand a whole new set of tools (and boxes to put them in, specialized benches/shops to use them in, classes to learn how to use them…)
But back to your original question – I’ve got two regular wooden-faced vises on my bench, one on the side and one on the end. I haven’t had trouble holding anything thick or thin but it comes down to whatever you’re comfortable with.

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View Loren's profile

Loren

9602 posts in 3481 days


#5 posted 10-25-2013 03:28 PM

It’s a simper technology from another time which does not require
iron parts to hold work well. Compared to a tail vise a leg
vise is simple and it doesn’t have the limits of a shoulder vise.
The jaws can be canted as well.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

14830 posts in 2451 days


#6 posted 10-25-2013 03:43 PM

Practicality of a leg vise?

- Cheap. Dirt Cheap. $5 vise screw and a length of 2x stock and you are in business.

- Adaptable. Need something ‘deeper’ than say, 8” of clamping space? Drop the the screw lower. Try that with a metal vice

- Easy to install. Plan the whole bench around a leg vice? Except for getting the front of the legs co-planer with the front edge of the benchtop, it’s no problem at all. Don W. did a retrofit of his leg vise without that in place, either.

As far as why they’re all the rage, couldn’t care less other than to say there has to be merit to them or folks wouldn’t adopt them. I have one, and love it. Had a wooden face vise, traditional wood screw, thought it to be much less useful than the leg. Can’t clamp boards vertically, from floor to benchtop, and have them supported the whole length. Less wracking. More space on either side of the single screw, etc. etc.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Greg In Maryland's profile

Greg In Maryland

552 posts in 2831 days


#7 posted 10-25-2013 04:01 PM

It is interesting how a single person can be so influential. I am not a blinded Schwartz fan boy, but in general I find what he promotes and how he promotes it to cogent and well thought out. I may not agree with it, but it does not invalidate his ideas. For example, tool chests are great. I have one and may have another, but I much prefer my tool wall. I cannot imagine using a tool chest in my work and constantly pulling this tool out and putting that tool away. I would drive myself crazy. However, I could see in a different situation where I would absolutely need one and a tool wall would not suffice.

I think that the recent evolution of woodworking tools/methodology (say post WW2) is a lesson in marking and influencing by the manufacturers. They constantly need to sell us the latest and greatest and for the longest time the latest and greatest must have tool was electron-based—routers, biscuit joiners, cordless drills, jointers, planers, table saws, compound mitre saws, etc, etc. where perhaps we discarded more ”traditional” methods and tools. The Schwartz, St. Roy, Lie-Nielsen, Veritas, etc, etc are the pushback to this.

As many pointed out, using the latest and greatest electronic tools does not invalidate me as a woodworker, and conversely using “traditional” tools does not elevate me at all. A crappy piece of work, no matter how it is constructed, is still crappy. See the rest of my projects for examples :)

So, even though The Schwartz may have had something to do with the reintroduction of the leg vise to the world, I am thoroughly glad that he did. Since I made my bench and installed the leg vise, there isn’t a project I haven’t used the leg vise on. I find that I can hold a piece far more securely using the leg vise than I can using my tail vise. I can really torque down on the piece using the leg vise in a way that I cannot with my other vise, and it does not move. No matter how big or how small, if it is between the chops it stays. That alone is worth the price of admission.

With regards to adjusting the pin, the times that I have to adjust it are very infrequent and I really find no issue with bending down to insert it. It is such a non-issue that I cannot imagine purchasing some of the fancy hardware (though it sure looks nice) to replace it. The biggest hassle I have is trying to keep my young sons from pulling the pin out and playing with it God knows where. Of course, talk to me in 20 years and I may be singing a different tune.

Since it sounds like you have the hardware (screw), so why not go to the effort and install a leg vise? It could be good for your work or not, but you wouldn’t have a lot invested if it wasn’t.

Greg

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1537 posts in 2308 days


#8 posted 10-25-2013 04:09 PM

I think that in your case, the leg vise is something that it is easily retrofitted to your bench. As opposed something like the shoulder vise on a Scandinavian bench a la Klaus or Tage Fried. Give it a shot, you might like it.

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

View Mosquito's profile

Mosquito

9093 posts in 2125 days


#9 posted 10-25-2013 04:10 PM

I’m with Smitty. I couldn’t care less why others have decided to adopt them in masses. I have one on my workbench, I like it, and it works for me. It is cheap, gives you much more depth (depending on the screw position) and holds very well. There are times when a metal face vise would be nicer, specifically when I’m edge planing pieces with differing thicknesses between pieces. That said, it’s probably more a fault of me using a 6TPI wooden screw I made myself instead of 2-3TPI wooden screw I could buy.

I did read Chris’s book on workbenches, and read through all the different vice options before I made my decision. I also work with hand tools almost exclusively, so why wouldn’t I use a vise that was traditionally used with hand tools when everyone was using hand tools? Made sense to me, anyway.

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - http://www.youtube.com/MosquitoMods - http://www.TheModsquito.com

View unbob's profile

unbob

800 posts in 1736 days


#10 posted 10-25-2013 04:51 PM

This one around 130yrs old.

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2194 days


#11 posted 10-25-2013 05:06 PM

Nothing; it’s superfluous. I don’t know if the leg vise is a Roubo thing, but the current bench craze is all fad and fashion, contributing little, if anything, to the quality of the end product.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View schuft's profile

schuft

123 posts in 2440 days


#12 posted 10-25-2013 05:14 PM

Where are you guys finding vise screws for $5? OP found his at ReStore of course, but I never see stuff like that at the ReStore where I live.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

14830 posts in 2451 days


#13 posted 10-25-2013 05:16 PM

^ I disagree, Clint.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Tedstor's profile

Tedstor

1643 posts in 2465 days


#14 posted 10-25-2013 05:22 PM

Where are you guys finding vise screws for $5?

Thats what I was wondering? The closest thing I’ve been able to find was 1” threaded rod. And the threads were REALLY fine. It would take forever to actuate the chop if I had to spin the handle 50 times to move it an inch. Of course, I’m only talking about the actual screw. I’d still need to find the garters and other parts.

I’ve seen people make them out of threaded rod and plumbing supplies, probably for under $15, but they look kinda cheap/cheezy.

View Mosquito's profile

Mosquito

9093 posts in 2125 days


#15 posted 10-25-2013 05:27 PM

I also disagree Clint. In an all power tool shop that may be true, but try using only handtools on a workmate, or on a “work table” and tell me it’s still true. I can tell you it isn’t, from first hand experience, after using a workmate for a year first.

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - http://www.youtube.com/MosquitoMods - http://www.TheModsquito.com

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

14830 posts in 2451 days


#16 posted 10-25-2013 05:29 PM

To declare a proven work-holding device ‘superfluous’ is silly at best.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Tedstor's profile

Tedstor

1643 posts in 2465 days


#17 posted 10-25-2013 05:32 PM

I think Clint was talking about the ‘old-is-new-again’ workbench renaissance. Not workbenches in-general.
I don’t think anyone would disagree that a workmate (as much as I like mine) is less than optimal for any serious woodworking…...and especially hand tool work. Not to say it can’t be done….it certainly has.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

14830 posts in 2451 days


#18 posted 10-25-2013 05:43 PM

I think he bashed the leg vise in direct response to the OP, then expanded the bashing to include traditional workbenches. But that’s his opinion.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Rick_M's profile

Rick_M

10599 posts in 2213 days


#19 posted 10-25-2013 06:12 PM

It wasn’t too long ago, the late 90’s and early 2000’s, that Shaker benches were all the rage and that’s when leg vises started getting press.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View unbob's profile

unbob

800 posts in 1736 days


#20 posted 10-25-2013 08:26 PM

The old leg vise I pictured above, the screw is 1 1/6” diameter 8 threads per inch.
The extra screw pictured is a dual lead 4 tpi, very fast acting- 1 turn= 1/4” travel.
I do make and cut Acme screws and nuts, and can cut multi lead screws and nuts for fast action.
I may consider making up some if there is an interest in them, but, I would want to make them in multiples to save on set up time.
Here is a table saw sub arbor “left hand” Acme on the Monarch EE lathe. This was to adapt 5/8” arbor blades to a 12”-14” table saw. Cutting those threads is quite easy on that machine.

View unbob's profile

unbob

800 posts in 1736 days


#21 posted 10-25-2013 08:32 PM

Try again to get a more viable photo of acme screw.

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2194 days


#22 posted 10-25-2013 08:38 PM

I have no idea what a “workmate” is.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View Tedstor's profile

Tedstor

1643 posts in 2465 days


#23 posted 10-25-2013 09:10 PM

Clint- you can’t be serious :) LOL

Can you??

View Ron Harper's profile

Ron Harper

133 posts in 1749 days


#24 posted 10-25-2013 09:12 PM

A good one that is set up right is very quick and provides enormous holding power. In process of building my own

-- Ron in Kokomo

View Don W's profile

Don W

18518 posts in 2400 days


#25 posted 10-26-2013 12:39 AM

I added my leg vice and changed the traditional handle for a wheel.

With or without the wheel, its my most used vice in my shop.

-- http://timetestedtools.net - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Ron Harper's profile

Ron Harper

133 posts in 1749 days


#26 posted 10-26-2013 01:46 AM

Wow Clint…..really. .?? If you are a hand tool woodworker, you quickly learn that the bench is the most iimportant tool in the shop

-- Ron in Kokomo

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2194 days


#27 posted 10-26-2013 01:49 AM

Tedstor, unless I know it by another name, I am serious.

Ron, my shop is for making stuff, and all the stuff in my projects tab has been made using the 86×32 bench, pictured, over the last 20+ years. A bench is necessary, but it ain’t something to obsess over.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View Rick_M's profile

Rick_M

10599 posts in 2213 days


#28 posted 10-26-2013 02:21 AM

Time to quit huffing lacquer thinner.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View unbob's profile

unbob

800 posts in 1736 days


#29 posted 10-26-2013 02:36 PM

The bench above would be a struggle “For Me” for hand planning and other hand work, that is perhaps a missed point in this thread. The need to solidly hold various shapes and sizes of work.
—The bench-not the workmate.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

14830 posts in 2451 days


#30 posted 10-26-2013 03:18 PM

Hopefully the tirade against traditional workbenches didn’t obscure the responses from several that the leg vise is a very viable workholding tool. The point I didn’t mention is on the parallel guide. It’s not that often it needs to be moved / adjusted in the first place. Most of the stock worked at the bench is at or near 3/4” or 4/4” in thickness, meaning the pin doesn’t move. There are mechanisms being marketed that eliminate the need to bend and adjust, and that is where some retrofit ‘hassle’ comes in, but it also boils down to how bad you want to avoid bending.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Mosquito's profile

Mosquito

9093 posts in 2125 days


#31 posted 10-26-2013 04:02 PM

Mauricio used a woods crew on the bottom of his chop, with a wooden nut that he can just spin with his foot, instead of adjusting a pin. I did the same on mine. As long as you figure out what you want before you implement it, it’s not so bad. I’ve been very happy with mine so far, though if I were to do it again, I’d put my vise screw a little higher.

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - http://www.youtube.com/MosquitoMods - http://www.TheModsquito.com

View Charlie's profile

Charlie

1100 posts in 2119 days


#32 posted 10-26-2013 07:01 PM

In the end, a bench is just another tool. And the tool should support the work. How that’s accomplished is up to the person doing the work. I know a guy that’s about 85 years old and is a WONDERFUL wood worker (still). He has no vise at all on his bench. Never has. He uses pegs and wedges and he uses clamps. He does have a hook on his bench.

I asked him once why he had no vise. He told me he found them limiting. If the vise is there, you feel like you have to use it. :) He said his bench is basically a big clamping jig. He can put a clamp anywhere (and does). His bench has peg holes all over the place. Top, legs, aprons, you name it. A peg can either support the work while he holds a clamp to place it or it can support a clamp while he holds the work while clamping. He can clamp any size piece, of any shape, in any position he wants. And he is so used to working this way that he’s quite fast at deciding where to put a peg and which clamp to use.

So, in essence, I think Clint has it right. The bench is a tool. It’s used for making stuff.

On the other hand, if you WANT a piece of art as a bench, that’s your prerogative as a woodworker. You’re making your own tools and YOU decide which ones have to be pretty.

View Ron Harper's profile

Ron Harper

133 posts in 1749 days


#33 posted 10-26-2013 11:25 PM

Clint. Your bench looks perfectly serviceable. A bench must be able to hold boards securely when you work on the face, edge, or end. And must withstand force generated when planing. Lots of different ways to get that done. But, it must be done or it is very difficult to work wood with hand tools. A bench is not shop furniture. It is a tool.

-- Ron in Kokomo

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