Actually I have a lot of vices. What I don't have is a vise installed on my Nicholson bench, which is nearing it's first birthday. This was a carefully-considered decision. I didn't know what vise(s) I wanted and I wanted to really immerse myself in all of the possibilities for workholding that a split top Nicholson offers. Some people spend over $700 for a tail vise and a leg vise, so I thought it important to make sure I understood my needs first.
As I wrote at the time, however, I am a big fan of Moxon vises and hope never to be without one. That was part of the reason I made the decision I did, apparently common at the time Moxon wrote his book. Moxon vises have deservedly attracted a lot of attention: the first year of this blog has just ended and far and away the most viewed post is the one I wrote when I completed my Moxon vise (see the work holding topic on the right sidebar). The vise has more than met my expectations. I have only one issue with it. Whereas standard vises tend to wrack horizontally, Moxon vises tend to wrack vertically if you try to hold a work piece that doesn't extend below the screws. This is easy to control with a scrap of the same thickness, but it is an issue. Overall, these things are great and I am beholden to Chris Schwarz for rediscovering them.
It is now time to decide whether I need to install a vise on my workbench or whether the Moxon vise is sufficient. I am going to post further about my first year's experience with the Nicholson bench and its workholding capabilities so, for now, I'll just tell you my conclusion: there are times when it would be nice to have a vise on the bench but having one in addition to the Moxon vise is by no means essential. I always seem to find things to spend money on that I want more than a bench vise, mainly because I have learned to accommodate most of my workholding requirements in other ways.
What I have decided is that, if I do install a vise on the bench, it will be a twin screw vise installed on the end of the bench. One of the nice features of a Moxon vise is that you can move it around to suit your purpose at the time so I really had to think about this. In part, I view this location as the one most suited for a Nicholson bench and, in part, I think a vise mounted on the end offers the most versatility. That isn't what Nicholson depicted but his vise serves as a vertical planing stop, whereas I have a dedicated one. I prefer to keep the sideboards clear. Why a twin screw vise? Vises rack. Why pay for guides to retard racking when you can install a second screw and get rid of it entirely as well as gaining versatility? I should note that I previously owned a high-end quick release vise, didn't like it and didn't find the quick release feature all that useful. No reason you should agree, it's just what I think will work best for me.
I have repeatedly looked at the Veritas twin screw vise, which I really like, but I am bothered by a purely aesthetic issue. I really don't like the idea of a black aluminum cover dominating the end of my bench. I know this is silly, but, hey, it's a hobby. I have seen a blog post by a woodworker with a similar opinion who replaced the aluminum cover with a wooden one he made and I hope to look at the Veritas vise in person to get a feel for how practical this is before I decide. It is also interesting to me that the Veritas twin screw vise costs $229 vs. $295 for their quick release front vise. The latter has a total of four bars that would have to go through the sideboard.
If I don't go this way but choose to install a bench vise, I intend to either purchase a pair of wooden screws or make steel screws similar to the ones I made for my Moxon vise with wooden hubs and handles.
I return to my main point: After many years of having a premium quick release vise, I am really surprised at how easily I did without one for this year. I kept expecting to hit a wall, but it never happened. I think Moxon was right.