LumberJocks

An inexpensive way to add vises to a bench?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Hand Tools forum

Forum topic by HarveyDunn posted 162 days ago 1073 views 1 time favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View HarveyDunn's profile

HarveyDunn

286 posts in 332 days


162 days ago

I’m a newbie, setting up workspace on a tight budget – not enough money, not enough space, not enough time!

I don’t have a workbench; I don’t have the skills or the equipment to build a complex one myself. I’m working small – mostly keepsake boxes; nothing larger than an end table in my foreseeable future.

I know most benches have both a face and a tail vise. Do any of you get by with just a tail vise alone?

I’ve recently found two very inexpensive vises. There is this one, called a “pony” light duty vise from Highland Woodworking:

http://www.highlandwoodworking.com/pony-light-duty-woodworkers-bench-vise.aspx

It doesn’t have much travel (4.5”, and I guess by the time you’ve added your wooden jaw plate that is reduced even futher). But it is only $24! I was wondering if two of these side by side would be sufficient for holding boards while planing edges.

There is also this one from Woodworker’s Supply:

http://woodworker.com/fullpres.asp?PARTNUM=165-407&LARGEVIEW=ON

Its on sale right now for $90 with $5 flat rate shipping. It has 9.125” inches of travel – I was thinking that with the addition of a wooden jaw plate with a benchdog hole in it I could use this for a tail vise.

What am I going to attach them to? I don’t know. I thought perhaps I’d get a wood door or a dining room table from Habitat for Humanity, cut them down to the best size for my space with a circular saw, then make some legs of the right height out of 2×4s. Then drill some benchdog holes.

Alternative: buy a bench.

Home Depot has a Sjobergs 53” Pine bench with one vise for $190:

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Sjobergs-Hobby-53-in-Pine-Workbench-995-7100-33225/203977816?N=5yc1vZbsc

Pretty lightweight, obviously, but it could be sandbagged if necessary.

Woodcraft has something similar but in birch and with a second vise for $350:

http://www.woodcraft.com/product/2086091/43459/sjobergs-hobby-birch-bench-1340.aspx

And of course there is always the option of waiting for the next sale and getting the HF bench for around $120 or so, depending upon the coupon.

http://www.harborfreight.com/60-in-Hardwood-Workbench-with-4-Drawers-69054.html

Right now they are $165. The one set up in my local store is a mess – cracked top, very wobbly. But that could be a result of the incompetence of the staff – a few weeks ago I saw a half ton arbor go crashing to the floor because it had been put on the wrong stand and left unsecured.

Or it could be because it is just a piece of junk.

Your thoughts/advice will be greatly appreciated.


16 replies so far

View Tim's profile

Tim

1178 posts in 563 days


#1 posted 162 days ago

There are lots of plans out there for beginner benches that don’t take tons of skill and tools. You can do better than a door on saw horses with very little skill.

You probably want to stay away from cheap vises. They will be a waste of money. Either hunt for used good ones or consider Paul’s ideas: http://lumberjocks.com/projects/70623
He has different wedge powered vises, wagon and leg vises. Take skill to build, but cheap for sure.

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

4749 posts in 1178 days


#2 posted 162 days ago

+1 for Tim’s suggestion.

http://lumberjocks.com/shipwright/projects

View HarveyDunn's profile

HarveyDunn

286 posts in 332 days


#3 posted 162 days ago

I don’t yet have the capacity to shape and glue up those pieces.

View CharlesA's profile

CharlesA

1083 posts in 399 days


#4 posted 162 days ago

You’ve gotten some good advise. I found this front vise from Woodcraft. Regular price is $69, but I got it on sale for less. They have a large vise as well FOR $99. I used it for a tail vise. There are a number of benchtops for sale out there for a pretty good deal. I made my bench out of Southern Yellow Pine per Christopher Schwarz—fairly inexpensive and a great learning experience. You should also check Craigslist.

View Tedstor's profile

Tedstor

1369 posts in 1234 days


#5 posted 162 days ago

I’d avoid the tiny Pony vise as a primary vise. I have a similar sized/type vise mounted to a saw bench. It works ok for the lightest of duties…..but just OK. No way would I want to use it regularly for edge planing. Mounting two of these side-by-side ‘might’ get the job done, but it’d be cumbersome.

I recently got one of these Wilton Corner vises (see link). Its got a fairly robust 1” acme screw, a 7” jaw, and can hold stock vertically or horizontally. And these things were built to last. Probably the last vise you’ll ever need. And only $10 more than you’d pay for the ponies.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/WIlton-Wood-Working-Vice-Corner-Model-USA-made-/121272945818?pt=BI_Tool_Work_Holding&hash=item1c3c6e4c9a

And to add: An old, wooden dresser/buffet with a solid core door on top makes a very good workbench. Your local restore might have both for peanuts. ( ijust re-read your OP and see you already knew this- sorry).

View CharlesA's profile

CharlesA

1083 posts in 399 days


#6 posted 162 days ago

Two more thoughts. If you have a Habitat Re-Store near you, its worth a visit to see if they have something that would serve as a workbench.

also, I agree on not getting the Pony, but do remember that woodworking vise has at least two major functions: to clamp something in the jaws and to hold fast large pieces with bench dogs, etc. I’ve found the latter to be as big a help as the former. That’s why I went with the two Woodcraft vises in my post above (although there are lots of options out there). By installing them with stout wooden vise faces (mine are two pieces of SYP with some Ash sandwiched between) and drilling them for bench dogs I can control my work much more easily. OTOH, I did a lot of good work with a vise similar to the Pony until I could go this route.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

View Dez's profile

Dez

1113 posts in 2678 days


#7 posted 161 days ago

Have you looked at this Lumberjock’s solution?

https://www.google.com/url?q=http://lumberjocks.com/shipwright/blog/series/5516&sa=U&ei=Qh8BU5jgI831oATT64DQCg&ved=0CAYQFjAA&client=internal-uds-cse&usg=AFQjCNEY7AP3Wkr8YUp3XXj8vguAQPjx4Q

I rather like the simplicity and the cost is quite reasonable. You could add the vices to your “found” bench if you don’t want to build the whole bench!
I plan on using his design one way or another when I replace my current bench.

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View 12strings's profile

12strings

374 posts in 986 days


#8 posted 161 days ago

If you already have 2 pipe clamps and a 2×4, you’re set!

Added to an existing 2×4 bench:
http://lumberjocks.com/12strings/blog/38501

or, incorporated into a new build:
http://lumberjocks.com/12strings/blog/39606

I would agree that if you wen to to HD and bought a sheet of plywood and some 2×4’s you could make something sturdier than those cheap benches, especially the HF one… Although I suppose you could buy it with the intent of imediately bracing it up with more wood so it doesn’t wobble…but no, it wasn’t their assembly…It just wobbles…period. Until you start attaching more wood to brace it.

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

View OasisArt's profile

OasisArt

6 posts in 165 days


#9 posted 161 days ago

I bought the HF bench a couple of years ago, don’t remember why now, anyway wasn’t much good so I built one that has worked well for me. Nothing fancy just plywood and 2×4’s and I’m adding some vice’s from lowes for under 20.00 for now. Am planning to build a much better one when I get settled in the new home and some other projects completed.

Doesn’t have to look great, or be prefect to be functional. BTW I did put rollers on mine as I needed to move it around a lot due to my wife insisting on parking her car in my shop.

-- Sawdust making artesian

View basswood's profile

basswood

255 posts in 221 days


#10 posted 161 days ago

This is how I made my own bench vises. I doubt you could find a less expensive method:

http://lumberjocks.com/topics/56780

-- http://www.basswoodmodular.com/Tri-Horse-Builder-Plans-p/thbp.htm

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9595 posts in 1220 days


#11 posted 161 days ago

Leg vise. Pls consider one. Versitile, cheap, hold is incredible.

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

View Dakkar's profile

Dakkar

297 posts in 529 days


#12 posted 161 days ago

I picked up an earlier version of that Harbor Freight bench some years ago and, while it works fine for the limited use I have for it now, it wouldn’t have right out of the box. Mine had two vises and one was so badly out of alignment I had to re-drill the holes and install a piece of pipe to make it work, but it’s OK now. The overall structure of the bench was unusably wobbly, but I just used a couple of 3/4” plywood panels as end braces and it sturdied up just fine.

In my experience the tradeoff for low prices at HF is to be prepared to either return the item or fix it yourself.

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

4987 posts in 2314 days


#13 posted 161 days ago

Paul Sellers has a good series on making a bench with rudimentary skills and tools.

-- "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 BinghamtonEd's profile

BinghamtonEd

1202 posts in 971 days


#14 posted 161 days ago

I saw Basswood’s vise plans when he posted them, and they’ve gone on my to-do list, near the top. I don’t have a woodworking vise, just a machinist’s vise I put wooden jaws on. My current bench/cabinet setup won’t let me put on a true vise without losing 1 or two drawers of storage. I have a bunch of those clamps and I think I could hack something together.

So yeah, plus 1 to Basswood’s awesome idea.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View JayT's profile (online now)

JayT

2094 posts in 812 days


#15 posted 161 days ago

The vises on my bench were picked up second hand and took a little refurbishing, but it was straight forward.

I found one at a flea market and picked up the other off ebay for cheap. Total initial outlay for both was about $70. With the number of schools closing down woodworking programs, these type of vises can show up very cheap in large batched once in a while.

-- "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money." Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835

showing 1 through 15 of 16 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

HomeRefurbers.com

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

GardenTenders.com :: gardening showcase