Front vise with hand wheel?

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Forum topic by connortn posted 07-13-2015 07:38 PM 2917 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View connortn's profile


5 posts in 1015 days

07-13-2015 07:38 PM

t I have been trying to find answers to concerning workbench vices. I think what I’m looking for is a front vise which is all metal except for the inset jaws… not sure what name it goes by. All that I have saw use a dowel of some sort to crank the vise in and out. I would prefer to have a hand wheel but do not know enough about the vise types to know if this variation is available or not. There is a vise similar that some call a “piano makers vise” aka Studley vise, but these are rare as chicken teeth. Is it possible to take a normal front vise and modify it to take a hand wheel instead? I also see tail vises with hand wheels. Could these be used as a front vise in some manner?

I have worked many years in woodworking but my present bench does not have a woodworking vise on it. I repair string instruments (luthier) for a large music company and have had several occations where a front vise would have been handy to say the least. I have and operate a mill and lathe also so I can make some parts if needed.

Thanks for your replys.

12 replies so far

View rwe2156's profile


2881 posts in 1447 days

#1 posted 07-13-2015 09:38 PM

I checked out some pics. Is this similar to a wagon wheel vise?

If so, would something like this work?

Check out the installation link for more clarity.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View connortn's profile


5 posts in 1015 days

#2 posted 07-14-2015 12:38 AM

Well, I guess some call the style a wagon wheel since the hand wheel is shaped like a wagon wheel, but all I see that use this style wheel are end vices or… not sure what to call them, but they look either like a leg vice or a horizonal clamp with two of the hand wheels on them. Someone needs to help me out on the terminology here :-)

I’m looking for a normal face vice that mounts on the face of the bench top, usually with two metal plates for the faces, but with the “wagon wheel” hand wheel type adjusting instead of the usual baton looking crank.

I can remove the baton end with my lathe and fit a hand wheel to it, I just don’t know if there would be a problem Im not seeing by doing so, such as maybe the handwheel would be too heavy and cause the vice to sag, or some other quirk. I don’t think anyone makes a face vice with a hand wheel anymore, so I’m stuck with moding a normal face vice.

View TheFridge's profile


9249 posts in 1452 days

#3 posted 07-14-2015 12:47 AM

Horizontal piece (chop or jaws) with 2 hand wheels is a moxon. Anything is possible. Especially if you have a metal lathe. Many of the face vises I’ve seen have a drift pin in the handle that pins the tee for wooden part of the handle to the shaft so it looks like an easy swap.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View connortn's profile


5 posts in 1015 days

#4 posted 07-14-2015 01:34 AM

Thankds TheFridge. Moxon huh? Wonder where that name came from? That’s good to know about the drift pin. I guess all I need to do is find a decent face vice and get to work. I’ll be a while so if I can remember I’ll post an update on how it went.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15281 posts in 2585 days

#5 posted 07-14-2015 01:49 AM

Several on the workbench smackdown thread modified their leg and face vices with handwheels.

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

View bondogaposis's profile


4683 posts in 2318 days

#6 posted 07-14-2015 01:49 AM

Are you talking about a leg vise w/ hand wheel? Like this.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View JayT's profile


5589 posts in 2177 days

#7 posted 07-14-2015 02:41 AM

Studley bench

No reason you can’t modify a standard iron face vise. On the ones I have, the handle is just attached with a pin, like Fridge mentioned. Drive out the pin, pull the handle and replace it with a handwheel. Grizzly has a pretty good selection at reasonable prices. On the iron wheels, you’ll probably have to have a machine shop drill and mill out the recess to fit the shaft of the treaded rod on whatever vise you get, but that’s a pretty simple operation and shouldn’t cost much.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3052 days

#8 posted 07-14-2015 04:22 PM

As others have mentioned, it should not be too difficult to change from the handle to the wheel, and
considering the vise handle is made to be tightened with leverage and weight, I do not think the weight
of the handwheel will affect the vise.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View MrRon's profile


4718 posts in 3210 days

#9 posted 07-15-2015 06:36 PM

I was thinking of a car or a boat’s steering wheel attached to the screw of the vise. It would have to be modified so the wheel could be removed while working at the vise.

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2937 days

#10 posted 07-15-2015 07:17 PM

All the hardware you could ever need to make anything is availabe by tomorrow from McMaster Carr. they also have the best search engine and web site I have ever worked with.

View connortn's profile


5 posts in 1015 days

#11 posted 07-17-2015 04:11 AM

Thanks for the replys guys. Bondo, no, not like that, but a normal face vice. The pic that JayT posted of the Studley bench has one on it, but it’s what some called a piano vice. Internally it works a little different from our normal face vice but from the front shown with the hand wheel is what I’m after. I’ve looked thru 200 pages of the Bench smackdown but nothing like I’m thinking. Sure are some nice benchs there! Works of art, some of them. My bench isn’t modeled after these styles, but a flat bench with tall shelves in the back. I’ve saw some smaller versions of my bench that they seem to sell for reloading ammo, but mines decked out with luthier…. stuff, if you know what I mean.

I’ll keep looking through the 100+ more pages at the smackdown post. I”ve saw a few things I’d like to add to my next bench if I build again.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15281 posts in 2585 days

#12 posted 07-17-2015 05:44 AM

Biggest challenge with hand wheel on a face vice is elevation; top of the wheel can’t sit higher than the bench top, for obvious reasons. The Studley piano vice shows that clearly.

Connor, looking forward to pics of what you ultimately go after, and ‘done’ pictures when it’s in your shop and working. Strive, and you’ll get there! We’ll help any way we can.

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

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