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I'm making a cedar workbench for permanent outdoor use. Should I use metal or wooden vices?

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Forum topic by TheCouleeCraftsman posted 07-24-2017 04:55 AM 2568 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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TheCouleeCraftsman

4 posts in 147 days


07-24-2017 04:55 AM

Topic tags/keywords: outdoor workbench vices cedar rust rot padauk threads question

Hey all! I’ve been struggling with a dilemma for a few weeks now and would really appreciate suggestions and thoughts from other woodworkers. I’m building another workbench out of cedar that is going to be permanently outdoors. I live in a northern climate, so I expect to protect the bench as much as possible from the elements and I’m fairly sure I can manage it successfully given that all of my other finishes on cedar have held up. The thing I am struggling with the most is whether to use a metal vice (cast iron body with metal threads) or a wooden vice (most likely padauk jaws with 1 1/2” inch threaded oak screws. The biggest issue with each of them is: metal is stronger, but will almost certainly rust without consistent oiling, and even then it is just bound to rust and become stiff/in need of a good wire brushing frequently. Then in regards to a wooden vice; finding wooden screws that are rot-resistant and in a large enough diameter for a leg vice seems to be impossible. I’d hate to drop $150 on a 3” diameter maple screw only to have it rot and become unusable in the vice since repairing the damage from rot while maintaining the integrity of the threads would be very challenging. So, does anyone have any ideas on how I can manage this? I’m mostly concerned with the leg vice, given that it’s the diameter of that screw that is the most challenging to meet when it comes to rot-resistant wood, and the metal hardware for a leg vice is so expensive that letting it rust outdoors seems like the equivalent of literally burning money. I appreciate all suggestions and thoughts! Thanks!


8 replies so far

View HTown's profile

HTown

79 posts in 1026 days


#1 posted 07-24-2017 07:33 AM

Seems like wood would shrink and swell causing binding problems. I agree about not wanting to put an expensive vise out in the weather.
You might make your own hardware. Wooden forming for concrete sometimes uses coil rod. That thread can handle some surface rust and work with a little lubricant. A construction supply store or amazon would likely have it as well as the nuts you would need.

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TheCouleeCraftsman

4 posts in 147 days


#2 posted 07-24-2017 08:20 AM

Oh man, great point! I didn’t even consider the issue of a wooden screw binding because of the changes in shrinking and swelling it’d face outside. The bench has all those considerations though so I’m glad I considered that at least. And yeah, I’m considering making my own hardware seeing as that seems like the cheapest and most replaceable route. I knew going into this that an outdoor bench would be challenging in regards to maintenance, but I didn’t think it would be THIS challenging! haha. However, I’m wondering if a fairly regular application of paste wax, along with a good couple coats of BLO would help maintain a pretty consistent moisture content within the wooden screws? That way, the expansion or contraction would be negligible?

View Gilley23's profile

Gilley23

395 posts in 221 days


#3 posted 07-24-2017 11:29 AM

I’d go metal vise and keep the screw with a coat of grease on it. My favorite is Lucas Red N Tacky grease, it’s amazing. Shoot I’d actually coat the entire vise in it, let it soak in for a good while then wipe it all off leaving the thinnest of thin coats on it, hardly noticeable. You could use plastic jaw covers, too.

Cover the whole bench with a tarp or extra large grill cover and call it a day.

https://www.amazon.com/LUCAS-10574-TACKY-GREASE-12X1/dp/B0049SUK5Y/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1500895466&sr=8-3&keywords=red+n+tacky+grease

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Kazooman

870 posts in 1791 days


#4 posted 07-24-2017 11:30 AM

You can get stainless steel threaded rod, but it is going to cost you an arm and a leg.

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TheCouleeCraftsman

4 posts in 147 days


#5 posted 07-24-2017 05:16 PM

Yeah I’m thinking the metal hardware is the way to go for my leg vice. And I’ll most likely do some kind of wooden vice, but maybe I’ll just make a moxon vice and/or a simple face vice with the wooden screws. And thanks for the suggestions about the grease and stainless steel rod! I’m definitely going to coat the hardware as well as I can with that stuff (looks great), and that stainless steel threaded rod isn’t TOO bad in price. I’ll probably pick it up just to be on the safe side. I don’t know if you guys watch any YouTube tutorials, but Dema Gamayunov did a great one on putting together a leg vice with makeshift hardware like that. I’m thinking I’ll use the rod in the link that you suggested instead of the one he suggests, as well as this cross brace like the benchcrafted one made out of simple angle iron! Here’s the links if you guys were interested in the rod or the instructable about the cross brace for the leg vice.

https://www.grainger.com/product/10W687&AL!2966!3!166592851629!!!g!262041134080!?gclid=CjwKCAjwtdbLBRALEiwAm8pA5dB63VPtgGLNwMpAX-BuYM3i0DAdOLCZH6gfXkIwjo2B4IENhRHJTxoCBRwQAvD_BwE&cm_mmc=PPC:+Google+PLA?campaignid=719672375&s_kwcid=AL!2966!3!166592851629!!!!262041134080!&ef_id=WR4tqAAABawdVdLi:20170724170547:s

http://www.instructables.com/id/Parallel-Leg-Vise-with-St-Andrews-Cross/

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shipwright

7783 posts in 2637 days


#6 posted 07-25-2017 03:30 AM

This just might be the answer to your question. I’ve been using it on my bench for several years now and I love it.
It’s low tech, cheap to build and a beast for clamping power.
http://lumberjocks.com/projects/70623

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees. http://thecanadianschooloffrenchmarquetry.com/

View TheCouleeCraftsman's profile

TheCouleeCraftsman

4 posts in 147 days


#7 posted 07-25-2017 12:27 PM

Just when I was certain I had found the answer you hit me with that awesomeness!!! Haha! that thing is very slick and I love the design. I looked at the link you left and it gave me a lot of answers. My legs are 4×4 so I may have to use a 3×3 as the piece which the wedge goes through, and then a 2×2 for the wedge. I’m thinking that’d give me enough meat on the side of everything to prevent splitting. So it’d be smaller than yours in the final dimensions but proportionately it’d be the same, so hopefully it’d have enough clamping force. I’ll post some pictures of the bench I’, working on so you guys can see what I mean.

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shipwright

7783 posts in 2637 days


#8 posted 07-25-2017 03:11 PM

Have a look at the blog links that go with the vice and bench builds as well. There is a little “upgrade I added later that makes the leg vice more useable.
Also there is a standing offer to anyone who builds the leg vice. Send me a picture of it and I’ll send you a V8 logo.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees. http://thecanadianschooloffrenchmarquetry.com/

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