V8 Degree wedge powered workbench #2: Building the Wagon Vices.

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 09-02-2012 01:37 AM 13607 reads 28 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Some Features and Operational Videos. Part 2 of V8 Degree wedge powered workbench series Part 3: Building the Plywood Bench Top »

OK, lets get started. I will go through the build process in the same order that I built the bench and as a non-working concept of wedge power would have been a deal breaker, the first job was to build a wagon vice or two to make sure they would work. I was fortunate enough to find a small local mill that would sell me some really nice local arbutus (madrone in USA). This is about 50 fbm and I have about ten left over.

After milling up some nice 1 7/8” stock and a bit of 3” I made up the main pieces. For the sake of getting it done quickly and easily ,the slide tracks for the wagon are just strips added on to the side rails with hot hide glue. The attached sketchup shows it as milled out of a single piece. For what it’s worth, I never changed it because it works just fine.

The load bearer here is a modified joint that boatbuilders use to attach headers and jack beams in wooden deck construction. It has great load distributing characteristics and in this iteration I have left a 1/8” space at the front side of each of the “ears” to allow it to move forward and loosen when not under pressure from the wedge. This allows it to pop out very easily but doesn’t compromise it’s load bearing ability. The first photo shows the block in load bearing position and the second in the loosened position, ready to pop out.

The wedge surfaces were just band sawn and smoothed with a chisel.

The wedges and shims are detailed in the sketchup. The important feature is the angle of the wedge. If too shallow you don’t get enough travel (and it will be really hard to drive out) and if too steep it won’t stay in, ei: it will pop back out. My first intuition was to go for 1/2 ” travel in the height of the block. I chose this because I’ve used wedges for years and it looked about right. It turns out that it worked perfectly so I didn’t try any others. That slope expressed as an angle was 8 degrees. Maybe others will work as well. I don’t know because I didn’t try after the first one worked so well.

So far, with my bench dog holes 6” apart and the three holes in the wagons spaced at 2” intervals, I haven’t found any length that I can’t accommodate with the shims shown, one 1” and one 1/2” each vice.

The final key to this simple little construction is a critical one. It is important that the sides of the vice be unable to spread as the wedge base block is pushed back into its seat. To assure that this was solid I let the vice bodies into the solid back member of the bench.

I have made one more little tweak that really helps. It is shown in the video in the first segment of this blog. I made some “eccentric wagon dogs”. Sounds like an application to the Kennel Club is in order I know. What these little guys do is allow you to fine tune the height of the wedge to clear your plane. Here’s a better photo of them.

Here’s the sketchup. You can get all the measurements from it. The only ones that really matter are the angles of the inclined planes. the rest can be modified to suit the size of your bench and the dimensions of your available material.

Because this vice is completely self contained, you don’t need to build it into a new bench during construction. To retro-fit it in any bench, all you need to do is cut out a hole that matches its outer dimensions and drop it in. A little hot hide glue, epoxy or pva will make it a permanent fixture.

That’s it. It’s just too easy.

Next we’ll start cutting up the three sheets of 3/4” plywood (give or take a bit) that make up the entire structure of the bench.

Thanks for looking in

Questions comments and critiques are always welcome.


-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

19 comments so far

View rance's profile


4258 posts in 3159 days

#1 posted 09-02-2012 01:56 AM

Paul, these vises are really a clever design. I’m guessing that the Deck Beam was left loose so you could repair/replace the wagon at any point in the future?

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View DIYaholic's profile (online now)


19620 posts in 2673 days

#2 posted 09-02-2012 02:28 AM

Thanks for all the effort that goes into doing such a thorough blog!!!

Following along anxiously, awaiting the next installment…....

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10097 posts in 4051 days

#3 posted 09-02-2012 03:22 AM

A GREAT design!

Simply Great…

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View Jack Barnhill's profile

Jack Barnhill

366 posts in 3364 days

#4 posted 09-02-2012 05:06 AM

Paul, Great innovation. I need a little help understanding the lower slide track. I can see from the pictures that the upper slide track is, as you explain, a thin strip glued onto the side of the side rail. The lower one looks like it might, or might not, be more than a thin strip. Is is a full thickness strip glued to the bottom of the side rail?

More explanation of the bottom slide track and/or pictures of the bottom and each end of the wagon vices would be most helpful.

Thank you for sharing your innovation.

-- Best regards, Jack -- I may not be good, but I'm slow --

View shipwright's profile


7980 posts in 2796 days

#5 posted 09-02-2012 05:41 AM

Jack, On mine the lower rail is just like the upper, leaving a gap at the bottom where the side notch is. I did glue a little wedge in at the back. Doing it the way you are suggesting would be better. Things like that happen when you are making it up as you go along.
As I said, I haven’t changed it because it works but if I made another, I would do it more like you suggest.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3711 days

#6 posted 09-02-2012 01:13 PM

Thank you very much for these excellent instructions! You are an incredible asset to Lumberjocks!

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View Mauricio's profile


7144 posts in 3150 days

#7 posted 09-03-2012 01:57 AM

Very interesting, especially the load bearer joint, thanks for sharing.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View Schwieb's profile


1857 posts in 3460 days

#8 posted 09-03-2012 11:38 AM

After pricing what a set of vice screws cost, this is really really looking good. I too appreciate all you bring to this site for us wannabe woodworkers.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View Jack Barnhill's profile

Jack Barnhill

366 posts in 3364 days

#9 posted 09-04-2012 12:22 PM

Thanks, Paul. I understand about mid-production designing. It happens all the time. Thanks again.

-- Best regards, Jack -- I may not be good, but I'm slow --

View funchuck's profile


119 posts in 3056 days

#10 posted 11-22-2013 11:59 AM

I stumbled across your vise about 6 months ago, and keep coming back to it. Currently, my workbench has a leg vise, which I made using a pipe clamp. I do a lot of hand planing, and keep putting off buying the parts for a tail vise.

This vise is cheap, looks great, and the construction doesn’t seem too difficult. Not only, that, I can build 2 for the cost of a little bit of wood. I think this will be my next project.

Thanks so much for the detailed videos and explanations. I can’t believe this vise isn’t more popular.

-- Charles from California

View bigJohninvegas's profile


448 posts in 1460 days

#11 posted 01-05-2015 07:34 AM

Paul, I was able to get that sketch up file to work, Thank you. And in the last 24 hours I think I have read everything you have wrote on your bench. I am just about to get started on my own bench and stumbled upon your wagon vise just at the right time. I am going to get started on the wagon vises later in the week, and had a question about how you installed them in your bench. I see where you set the vise bodies into the end rail, the rest you just Hot glued in?
I should add, I am going with a solid top on my bench. up to 4” thick. I was thinking about a rabbit that the vise could cradle on. Never used hot glue in that sort of application. If it works for you then I’ll give it a go too.
Thank you for all the detail you have put into this post.

-- John

View shipwright's profile


7980 posts in 2796 days

#12 posted 01-05-2015 02:53 PM

I epoxied them in John. See part seven. You can fit them any way you like as they are completely I dependant modules. The important thing is that the end is trapped so that it can’t separate when the wedge block pushes back into it. This isn’t a great place for HHG. The assembly time is a little too long and it is not a gap filler like epoxy.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View Sanderguy777's profile


176 posts in 1200 days

#13 posted 04-06-2015 03:13 AM

I want the sketchup model but the link doesn’t work for me. Am I supposed to search in google or the extension warehouse? Thanks

View shipwright's profile


7980 posts in 2796 days

#14 posted 04-06-2015 04:31 AM

It used to work but I think it was posted back in the day when LJ accepted “frame” codes. I don’t seem to be able to find a plain link in SU 3D Warehouse.
Do a search in the 3D Warehouse for “8 Degree Vertical Wedge Powered Workbench”

PM me if you still don’t get it.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View Woodknack's profile


11626 posts in 2378 days

#15 posted 04-06-2015 05:17 AM

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