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What is a Moxon vise?

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Forum topic by Rob posted 12-17-2014 08:11 PM 1953 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Rob

704 posts in 2537 days


12-17-2014 08:11 PM

Topic tags/keywords: vise

Dumb question, I know, but what is a Moxon vise? I can find all kinds of pictures but the closest I can get to a definition or description is an article by Christopher Schwarz. Is it just a double-screw vise in which the two sides are not linked and have to be tightened independently? Or does the removable/portable aspect also define a vise as a Moxon vise? (I ask because I’ve seen “built-in Moxon vise”) If you were to build or buy a vise, what characteristics would it need in order to be a Moxon vise?

-- Ask an expert or be the expert - http://woodworking.stackexchange.com


9 replies so far

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jakep_82

105 posts in 1772 days


#1 posted 12-17-2014 08:54 PM

Read the answer to question 7 in the article you linked. It’s a Moxon vise because he called it a Moxon vise.

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ElChe

630 posts in 803 days


#2 posted 12-17-2014 09:07 PM

Basically a joinery vise. Recommended by the Scwhartzinator for doing dovetails. Two jaws with either wood or metal screws spaced apart that you screw in to hold the board that you are cutting dovetails on. Simple and effective and totally unnecessary if you have some other sort of vise to hold a board while you cut dovetails. Moxon name I think derives from a plate in an old book. Joseph Moxon? Who knows. It’s like the Roubo bench that is called the roubo because it was in an old book written by some guy called Roubo. :)

-- Tom - Measure twice cut once. Then measure again. Curse. Fudge.

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JADobson

682 posts in 1577 days


#3 posted 12-17-2014 09:17 PM

Here is the diagram of the rise from Moxon’s book:

I suppose a Moxon vise would be anything modelled on this diagram.

-- James

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Dave G

303 posts in 1514 days


#4 posted 12-18-2014 12:24 AM

I’d use my leg vise to make dovetails if it were wide enough for drawers but it’s not (almost). Also it’s too low. So I use a homemade Moxon vise that:
1. elevates the workpiece so my forearm is parallel to the floor when I stroke the saw. Mine is 35”
2. clamps the wood no more than 1” lower than the saw stroke height. Mine is 35”
3. wide enough to securely clamp the widest drawer board for dovetail sawing. Mine is 24”
4. gives me a guide for the paring chisels to clean up a dovetail. Mine is made from 8/4 stock. (purists would probably be snickering at this but it really helps me to use the vise as a chisel guide)

I have a 1 – 1/2” dia screw making jig bought at Woodcraft and made two screws from hard maple scrap for this vise. And that was what the whole thing cost me because I yanked the vise faces out of the burn pile (hard maple too).

-- Dave, New England - “We are made to persist. that's how we find out who we are.” ― Tobias Wolff

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Rob

704 posts in 2537 days


#5 posted 12-18-2014 01:21 AM

Thanks for the answers, everyone. I get that the name is more or less arbitrary, but the one detail I’m hung up on is whether the portable aspect of this vise is critical or if the term applies more generally to a class of vises—say, any vise with two screws.

From the Schwarz article I get the impression that it also must be something that’s only attached to the bench with something like a holdfast or clamp, but it seems that some people with a double-screw vise permanently attached to the front or side of the bench also call that a Moxon vise. Is that technically correct? And if so, is a permanently-attached “twin-screw vise” (with a linkage connecting the two screws) also a Moxon vise?

The diagram James included suggests that perhaps the Moxon vise doesn’t have to be a portable, temporarily-attached vise, but without more context I can’t be sure. It may be at the time the book was written, there was no such thing as a permanently-attached vise. It isn’t clear to me from the diagram, but someone reading the book in the time of Joseph Moxon may have taken it for granted that the vise was not a permanent fixture on the workbench and that it must be temporarily attached with a holdfast or some other manner of sorcery.

To flip the question around, suppose I go to someone’s shop and I’m drooling all over the workbench while I’m trying to identify all the features. Maybe I identify it as a Roubo-inspired bench and I’m admiring the placement of the dog holes when I see a vise that has two screws. Under what circumstances, if any, would I be wrong in calling it a Moxon vise?

Maybe I’m just fussing too much over getting an exact answer but I suppose the practical benefits would be that I can potentially save myself from some embarrassment at some future point in time, and if I hear people talking about a Moxon vise in a podcast or at my woodworking club, I know exactly what they’re talking about.

-- Ask an expert or be the expert - http://woodworking.stackexchange.com

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JADobson

682 posts in 1577 days


#6 posted 12-18-2014 04:51 AM

Here is an exact of an answer as you are going to get :) From Moxon himself (remember he was writing a very long time ago, grammar and syntax has come a long way):

Joseph Moxon Mechanik Exercises Page 64
The Bench-Screw (on its hither side) to Screw Boards in, whilst the Edges of them are Plaining or Shooting; and then the other edge of the Board is Set upon a Pin or Pins (if the Board be so long as to reach the other Leg) put into the Holes marked a a a a down the Legs of the Bench; which Pin or Pins may be removed into the higher or lower holes, as the breadth of the Board shall require: so then, the Bench-Screw keeps the Board close to the edge of the Bench, and the Pins in the Legs keep it to its height, that it may stand steady whilst the other edge is working upon:

Page 65
Sometimes a double Screw is fixed to the side of the Bench, as at G or sometimes its farther Cheek is laid an edge upon the flat of the Bench as fastened with an Hold-fast or, sometimes two on the Bench.

So it would seem that the vise can be fixed or temporarily attached to the bench and still be a Moxon style vise, the main component seems to be the independent twin screws.

-- James

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Dave G

303 posts in 1514 days


#7 posted 12-18-2014 09:23 AM

You’re getting into historical issues and probably Chris Schwarz or Roy Underhill are best qualified woodworking “historians.” They’re quite approachable and you may already find your answer by googling their blogs. I’m personally not motivated to find out for you because I’m quite happy with my Moxon the way it is and I do not want to know if I’m totally FOS.

Modern Moxons (and mine) are portable to get the height right, because Chris has us all making Roubo benches at planing height and the Moxon vise is mainly for sawing. I do not have enough room to make a taller bench with a giant leg vise. For us Renaissance Men, the Moxon is a quick scrap wood project that produces a very useful, portable tool.

-- Dave, New England - “We are made to persist. that's how we find out who we are.” ― Tobias Wolff

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BinghamtonEd

2281 posts in 1836 days


#8 posted 12-18-2014 01:46 PM


Modern Moxons (and mine) are portable to get the height right, because Chris has us all making Roubo benches at planing height and the Moxon vise is mainly for sawing.

- Dave G

On the episode of Woodwright’s Shop where Schwarz was on and they we’re talking about the moxon vise, they actually discussed that while, in one picture it looks like the vise is permanently attached to the top, in another picture you can see it off the bench, hanging on the wall. It was quite interesting.

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

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bondogaposis

4036 posts in 1817 days


#9 posted 12-18-2014 02:55 PM

but the one detail I’m hung up on is whether the portable aspect of this vise is critical

No it’s not. If your bench is high enough for comfortable sawing you can permanently mount one to your bench. But as Dave G pointed out many of us made benches that are the right height for comfortable planing and therefore too low for comfortable sawing so the portable Moxon comes into play to both elevate the work and to secure it. Some jocks have built joinery benches separate from planing benches and are able to have non-portable Moxons because the benches are tall enough.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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