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Roubo style bench with Front Vise??

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Forum topic by Fine Woodwrecking posted 02-06-2015 02:02 AM 2303 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Fine Woodwrecking

7 posts in 715 days


02-06-2015 02:02 AM

Hi all,

I’m in the planning stages of a new workbench and after too many hours on Google and reading lots to workbench books, I’m finally stumped.

For the type of woodworking I do primarily I want to have a 4”ish thick Roubo style top with large legs flush to the face. I will be adding a proper tail vise as I find it much more versatile than the wagon vise but I’m not sold on a leg vise for the front. I (personal opinion, don’t want to start a war here) think they are a bit of a fad and a traditional front vise would be much more useful. I don’t disagree that leg vises are useful and cost effective but I don’t feel like I’ll get the use out of it that I would a front vise. The problem seems to be that there aren’t any front vises that are made to mount to a 4” thick top without chopping into the bottom of it heavily.

Any thoughts or experience that could help here?? (I will be building a separate mini moxon bench vise to sit on top for dovetails)

Thanks in advance

-- My moustache filters wood chips and sawdust out of my scotch - Nick Offerman


15 replies so far

View crank49's profile

crank49

3981 posts in 2439 days


#1 posted 02-06-2015 03:15 AM


Are you talking front vise, like the ones above, or face vise like the ones below? There is a huge difference.

These face vises are great in my opinion.
I have two on my bench. One on a corner and one on an end.

I had a front vise before I knew any better. Took that sucker off and pitched it in the trash.
The front vise will rack and bind up before it could even crack an egg unless it’s perfectly centered.

The face vise does not rack. I can clamp a board entirely on one end of the vise and it holds just as tight as if it was centered perfectly.

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

View ElChe's profile

ElChe

630 posts in 804 days


#2 posted 02-06-2015 03:40 AM

I can’t see where a leg vise would improve clamping other than perhaps more capacity and depth for vertical clamping? If I had my druthers my bench would have the roubo style legs flush with the top, a decent twin screw front vise like the lie Nielsen and either a tail vise or a wagon vise. My bench has an end vise and I rarely use it because I don’t usually work with wide panels. I do like how the leg vise looks. My bench is low for planing and I use a shop built cheapo moxon vise that I made with all thread for sawing dovetails and chopping and paring and cursing at said dovetails.

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

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Fine Woodwrecking

7 posts in 715 days


#3 posted 02-06-2015 05:43 AM

I was thinking of a front vise. I liked that I could buy one for >$100 and make it wide with a double row of 3/4” dog holes on top. The vertical clamping ability for me it taken care of by the tail vise as I only saw tenons vertically from the bench. Nothing wide enough to require a leg vise.

Do the metal face vises mount to a 4” bench? I haven’t been able to find any that say that.

-- My moustache filters wood chips and sawdust out of my scotch - Nick Offerman

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daddywoofdawg

1010 posts in 1043 days


#4 posted 02-06-2015 05:57 AM

crank 49 which ones are you saying are good which bad in the photos?

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crank49

3981 posts in 2439 days


#5 posted 02-06-2015 07:46 AM

The top ones I do not like.
I have a couple like the middle picture.
They were made by Groz and I got them for about $90 each.
The bottom photo is the same style as the middle photo but is a Jorjensen.
The Jorgensen would be nice, I’m sure, because I like many other products from that company.
Here is an image of the installation of the typical face vise like mine.

The wood jaw face I put on mine is 2 1/4” thick by 16” wide by 6” tall.
Mine is mounted on a 4 inch thick bench top. and I shimmed the mount down so the top of the wood jaw is just flush with the top of the bench.
The back jaw face is embedded into my bench top and there is a 3/4 inch thick oak band around my entire bench top that serves as the clamping face on the back side. I made the 16” section of the band replaceable where it serves as the rear jaw face.

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

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Fine Woodwrecking

7 posts in 715 days


#6 posted 02-07-2015 02:37 AM

What is it that causes the DIY front vises to wrack more than the steel face vises? Both would be limited to the precision of the guide rods and holes for them.

-- My moustache filters wood chips and sawdust out of my scotch - Nick Offerman

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Crank50

173 posts in 1044 days


#7 posted 02-07-2015 03:04 AM

The iron face vise has much larger guide rods and they are either cast in or shrunk fit into the face plate of the vise. It just does not move. Mine has remained tight for 5 or 6 years.
I tried very hard to make the DIY front vise work but it just would not.

FWIW, Lee Valley sells a front vise that looks like it has bigger rods.
I would not be afraid to try their version because I know they support their products.
If I didn’t like it they would take it back for sure. but I might have some mounting holes to fill on my bench.

View niftynoel's profile

niftynoel

108 posts in 1014 days


#8 posted 02-14-2015 04:54 PM

So, Wonder Boy, which did you opt for in the end? I’m in the same discovery period as you. I’m about ready to buy the Lee Valley “Large Front Vise 70G08.02”. But, now I’m wondering too, since Crank49 / 50s posts.

-- Noel

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Fine Woodwrecking

7 posts in 715 days


#9 posted 02-14-2015 05:07 PM

I haven’t made a decision yet. I have a large porch and a router table to build this spring as well as keeping an old truck running. The woodworking bench will be a build for this fall through the winter. Something to keep me busy on boring rainy nights.

I still think that I will go with the large front vise DIY style. This is purely based on what I want my bench to look like. I plan to go to Lee Valley one of these weekends and ask if I can check out both vises. As a final option I may try a hybrid of a single tail vise screw and two hardened steel rods with linear bearings similar to what one of the wood whisperer guild members did for a leg vise. I am resigning myself to the fact that I will have to rout out some clearance for the vise either way which will be better than trying to auger 15” deep holes for the guide rods.

-- My moustache filters wood chips and sawdust out of my scotch - Nick Offerman

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niftynoel

108 posts in 1014 days


#10 posted 02-14-2015 05:26 PM

Ahhh. Thank you. I think I will go ahead with the large Front Vise and call it a day. The bench I am building will double as my outfeed table. But I do want a vise on it – my bench will not be especially fancy, though it is mostly all hard maple. The top was one of those available from Woodcraft – my wife gave it to me for Christmas. So, it is nice and flat. I’ll build a skirt of hard maple surrounding the entire table top. Legs will be 3 1/2 inch hard maple. Most of the other support system may be another species – walnut maybe. Those need not be as strong or dense as the top pieces.
I’ll likely post a photo when it is done in a week or so – unless I’m ashamed of it. Life is great.

-- Noel

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Fine Woodwrecking

7 posts in 715 days


#11 posted 02-14-2015 05:50 PM

Hi Noel,

One thing to mention as I am just finishing up a build for butcher block legs using rock maple is that it is a complete pain in the ass to plane. If you have any concerns about that you may want to opt for a slightly less dense wood or you will definitely be getting a shoulder workout with your scraping plane. “Soft” maple or walnut would look awesome as a skirt. I plan to build my entire bench out of western maple as its easier to plane and will be more forgiving on my projects. Plus, you can still get the nice curly or striped maple look with it.

Definitely post a picture of your bench when it’s done, I’m using MDF screwed to old kitchen cupboards right now so don’t be ashamed of your bench!

-- My moustache filters wood chips and sawdust out of my scotch - Nick Offerman

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

489 posts in 1148 days


#12 posted 02-14-2015 05:59 PM

With a front vise you will need to either build up the underside of the bench to clear the skirt or drill holes in the skirt so it can bolt to the bottom of the bench top.

I have a front vise on my current “temporary” bench and it works well but I have used leg vises enough that I will probably go with one of those in the future. The extra capacity is really nice.

I think most people end up doing it this way but I would suggest you mount the front vise on the outside of the leg if the top is thick enough to support the overhang. The reason is you can overlap the leg with your wooden face and use rest larger boards against it or even drill holes in the leg for support pins and just clamp the end of the board in the vise.

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Fine Woodwrecking

7 posts in 715 days


#13 posted 02-14-2015 06:44 PM

That’s about what I had planned for my vise. Have it about 20” wide with the outer 5” flush to the edge of the bench and the inner 5” straddling the leg for vertical clamping. (Middle 10” is the guide rods) If it’s a Roubo style top I would rout clearance in the bottom of the bench to accommodate the vise or if I have a skirt I would drill through it to mount the vise.

Can I ask what it is you like so much about the leg vise? I haven’t been able to visualize myself using it that much.

-- My moustache filters wood chips and sawdust out of my scotch - Nick Offerman

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

489 posts in 1148 days


#14 posted 02-15-2015 04:35 PM

A lot more capacity between the top and screw and a lot more torque because your leveraging in 2 points against the work means the vise is a lot less likely to rack which a front vise will do even with a thick block. Adjusting the pin at the bottom of the vise is a bit of a pain but not something you have to worry about to much as most of the time you are working with similar sized pieces. A wood screw also turns a lot faster than metal ones do. A wood screw is something like 1” thread pitch meaning you will move the vise a inch a turn where metal screws are much finer requiring a lot more rotations to move the vise. It’s a small thing and hardly worth worrying to much about I admit. Then there is the cool factor of wooden vises but that’s a personal thing. My next bench is going to hopefully be my last bench build (I am currently on number 3) so a leg vise is a luxury I am willing to put the money and time into doing.

A Front Vise does work just fine. It’s easier to install and you don’t have to bend over to the ground to move a pin. If you overlap your bench leg and drill some holes in the legs for support pins I can’t imagine you will have any issues. You can always retrofit a leg vise into it in the future if you really want to as well. I wouldn’t worry about it at this stage as it seems like you have a good plan. The important thing is to get a solid stable bench you can work at for a time and find out what you like and what you don’t like about the bench so you can fine tune it to your needs. There really isn’t one perfect bench for everyone as we all have different quicks to how we work.

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pjr1

26 posts in 682 days


#15 posted 02-15-2015 04:51 PM

I have Jorgensen # 40709 on the end and a Veritas large (non quick release) front vise. Both are fantastic for me. You can get a nice wide jaw width with the Veritas with minimal racking. Personally I like the idea of a leg vise mounted at an angle for one specific purpose – resawing long stock that’s too tall to saw comfortably on a saw bench. I’ve just about got myself talked into one…

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