Thursday, September 13, 2012

Moxon vise update

It is not surprising to me that the posts on my Moxon vise have received the most pageviews on this blog.  As soon as we learn of this rediscovered historical gem, many of us are eager to have one.  Particularly if you take the expert advice and make your hand tool bench low enough to be comfortable for planing, having the vise sit above the top is highly desirable.  Portability is a real plus too.

An update is in order.  I was reminded by a recent post by Chris Schwarz of why I chose to use acme steel screws.  The commonly available threadboxes for making wooden screws are of such low quality that they're more aggravation than they're worth.  I keep hoping that somebody will sell affordable pairs of wooden screws sized for Moxon vises.  Until then, I think steel is the way to go.

I made a couple of modifications to mine after using it.  I found that the way I kept the nut from turning was unsatisfactory so I made two inserts that capture three faces of the nut:

These keep the screws straight and do a better job of holding the nut secure.  I also found turning the handles to be somewhat cumbersome because you have to keep ratcheting your wrists.  The solution was easy.  I just installed a half inch dowel through the handles.  Now I can spin the screws with a finger very rapidly and the dowels also make it easy to cinch the vise down tight:

I can't think of anything else I would change.  My version is extremely inexpensive.  I considered the Benchcrafted hardware, which is very nice, but at $149 I don't see the value.  Most of us won't really be spinning the vise open and closed like they demonstrate very often.  Unless you change the thickness of the material you are working on, it's normally about a turn of one of the screws.  Even when I do change thickness, I can now spin the screws in and out in a few seconds.  I am also not that enthusiastic about having those big screws and wheels sticking out the front of the vise where my saw might find them.


  1. I used veneer press screw rods on my moxon. I just don't see the benefit of using wooden threads. I don't have to worry about mine chipping.

  2. Veneer press screws are a very good choice. Using them would take less time to construct the vise than what I did and they are economical at about $20. The only reason I didn't use them is that I wanted wooden handles.