Question about installing a front vise on a bench.

  • Advertise with us

« back to Hand Tools forum

Forum topic by b2rtch posted 11-29-2012 11:23 AM 8365 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View b2rtch's profile


4826 posts in 2561 days

11-29-2012 11:23 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I am, for most things, right handed.
I do not understand why we are told to install a vise to the left end of bench if we are right handed and vise (sorry) versa for left handed.
Being right handed I use a saw, to cut a piece of wood, on the right side of my vise.
If I install the vise on the left side of the bench and I cut a piece of wood all the way trough then I cut into the bench.
If I install the vise on the right side of the bench, as I usually do, then I do not cut into my bench.
What do I miss?

-- Bert

22 replies so far

View b2rtch's profile


4826 posts in 2561 days

#1 posted 11-29-2012 02:04 PM

No answer?

-- Bert

View Don W's profile (online now)

Don W

18069 posts in 2080 days

#2 posted 11-29-2012 02:12 PM

I added this to my watch list Bert. I really don’t have an answer other than to say I have a leg vise and a bench vice across from each other on my bench. That puts the bench vice on the left (I’m right handed) and the leg vice on the right. I don’t see any difference from a left right perspective.

I think I once read it has to do with jointing with hand planes. You joint toward the vice for better control and less board movement. Again I typically joint with my bench vice only because I haven’t got my dead man set up on the leg vise side yet. I’ve tried it the other way and don’t see much difference, but trying is not doing, so iI may find it different once I’m actually using it.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View b2rtch's profile


4826 posts in 2561 days

#3 posted 11-29-2012 02:21 PM

Thank you Don.

-- Bert

View Bluepine38's profile


3344 posts in 2597 days

#4 posted 11-29-2012 02:21 PM

Never thought about this before, but remembering back to high school shop, 1950’s era, our woodworking
benchs, and there were quite a few of them, had the vise on the right hand end of the bench. As it is the
work bench I am using now sets against the wall on the right end. I put the wife’s car in the half of the
garage closest to the house to make it easier for her, so that is the way the bench ended up with the vise
on the left end, and I just live with it.

-- As ever, Gus-the 78 yr young apprentice carpenter

View bondogaposis's profile


4122 posts in 1863 days

#5 posted 11-29-2012 02:28 PM

I don’t use my bench for sawing wood to length much. Generally only small pieces on a bench hook. For most sawing I use machinery, table saw, RAS, band saw. I use the bench for planing, chiseling, drilling, dovetailing, sanding, etc. A lot of hand tool guys use a saw bench for rough sawing then bring it to the bench for final fitting. Like you say a standard bench vise layout does not lend it self well to hand sawing to length. You could of course use holdfasts to hold a board lengthise on the bench and saw it off the right side of the bench.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View JADobson's profile


729 posts in 1623 days

#6 posted 11-29-2012 02:29 PM

Don has it right. A left mounted face vice makes edge planning much easier for a right handed person.

-- James

View woodtools's profile


21 posts in 1801 days

#7 posted 11-29-2012 02:39 PM

I am no expert and my response is merely my understanding from 20+ years of working wood and research on traditional/historical practices. The face vise was designed for holding a board on edge while you planed a finished edge, typically to be at 90 degrees to the face of the board. As a right handed woodworker your right side would be parallel to the bench and face of the board as you worked the edge with the plane. The bench hook was designed for holding a piece of wood while you cut it to length, traditionaly used on the right side of a right handed work bench. Many woodworkers today have jointers for edge dressing a board and the traditional practice of using a hand plane is not required. In my way of thinking, where you mount your vice and the type of vice(s) you use, is dependent on your style of woodworking and your tools of choice. Hope this helps your thoughts.

View paratrooper34's profile


903 posts in 2464 days

#8 posted 11-29-2012 02:40 PM

It does have to do with planing. Right handed people hold a plane’s tote with their right hand and guide it with their left on the knob. Thus, wood holding for planing edges and faces is oriented to the left of the bench. So the vise is there and lots of the other appliances for holding wood are on that side. For left handed people, everything is reversed due to the mechanics of how they use planes.

After doing this for quite awhile now, I see there is no way I could be proficient at any level if the things on my bench were reversed.

-- Mike

View Kreegan's profile


1452 posts in 1659 days

#9 posted 11-29-2012 02:48 PM

In addition to what’s already been said about planing, if you have the vise on the left side of the bench, and saw with your kerf to the left of the vise, then you can hold and catch the waste with your free hand without awkwardly reaching across your body.


View b2rtch's profile


4826 posts in 2561 days

#10 posted 11-29-2012 03:12 PM

“Don has it right. A left mounted face vice makes edge planning much easier for a right handed person.”
Why? I accept your answer but it does not satisfy me.
I personally have no problem planning a piece of wood set in my right end vice.
I do not understand the difference it would make.

-- Bert

View crank49's profile


3987 posts in 2483 days

#11 posted 11-29-2012 03:16 PM

I had the same question when I built my bench three years ago.
My thinking was the same as yours, mount to the right, cut to the right. (I’m right handed)

It was explained to me that in wood working you usually want to keep the off-cut that you remove from a long piece of stock.
Since you hold the saw in your right hand, and you want to see your mark so you can cut beside it, your mark needs to be to the left of the blade, and you don’t want the off-cut to drop to the floor and get dented so you hold it with your left hand.

I put my vise on the left end for those reasons. Now that I have used it this way a couple of years, I can’t imagine why I would have ever considered putting it anywhere else.

In cases where I need to keep the long board and let the off-cut drop I have a bench hook I put on the empty right hand end of the bench. Or, I really prefer to do my sawing on a saw bench which is about 10” lower than my workbench. Much easier to get a good square cut at that level.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

View b2rtch's profile


4826 posts in 2561 days

#12 posted 11-29-2012 03:42 PM

‘Diapers and politicians both need to be changed often; and for the same reason”
I like that

-- Bert

View JADobson's profile


729 posts in 1623 days

#13 posted 11-29-2012 03:47 PM

If you are holding your plane the way Paratrooper says then when you plane from the right hand side of your bench towards the left you are pushing your stock into the vice rather than pulling it out.

-- James

View b2rtch's profile


4826 posts in 2561 days

#14 posted 11-29-2012 03:58 PM

Thank you all for your answers.

-- Bert

View jap's profile


1251 posts in 1566 days

#15 posted 11-29-2012 04:05 PM

it might allow you to put the tools your using on the right side of the vise, where your right hand can reach them without crossing over the vise to the left side.

Just a thought, Why right or left side, Why not put the vise in the middle of the workbench?

-- Joel

showing 1 through 15 of 22 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics