How to Build a Workbench Vise

Written by chris baylor
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How to Build a Workbench Vise
(John Howard/Lifesize/Getty Images)

A workbench vice on a woodworking bench can be one of the most valuable tools in your wood shop. There are many different types of workbench vices, but the basic premise is the same in all of them: one piece of hardwood is attached to the bench, while another is attached to vice hardware that pinches the second piece of hardwood toward the first, clamping the object in between the jaws. A workbench vice can be installed in about an hour with just a few basic tools.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Bench vice hardware kit
  • Power drill with drill bits and screw bit
  • 2 evenly-sized hardwood blocks for jaws (oak, birch or maple are good choices)
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil

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  1. 1

    Disassemble the rear brace from the centre screw and guide bars of the vice assembly kit.

  2. 2

    Remove the rear jaw bracket from the vice assembly hardware kit.

  3. 3

    Measure the diameter of the centre screw (at its widest point) and the two guide bars. Set aside drill bits that are 1/8 inch larger than the diameter of each.

  4. 4

    Position the rear jaw bracket against the edge of the workbench and mark the hole locations for the centre screw, the two guide bars and the mounting screws.

  5. 5

    Drill holes at the appropriate locations with the drill bits you chose in step 3. Drill appropriately-sized pilot holes for the mounting screws as well.

  6. 6

    Attach one hardwood block to the rear jaw bracket, and another to the front jaw bracket. Position the hardwood blocks so that they will protrude about 1/8 inch above the table top when the jaws are installed.

  7. 7

    Mount the rear jaw assembly onto the edge of the workbench. Insert the centre screw of the vice assembly into the centre hole in the rear bracket, and turn the screw clockwise to engage the threads. Continue turning until the screw threads are about halfway engaged, all the while aligning the guide bars into their prescribed holes.

  8. 8

    Reach under the workbench top and reassemble the rear brace to the centre screw and guide bars.

  9. 9

    Assemble the handle through the large hole in the front of the screw.

  10. 10

    Turn the handle clockwise, turning the screw until the jaws are tightened against each other. Then, loosen the jaws by turning the handle counterclockwise to move the jaws to their widest point, checking the travel along the way for any impingement. Should the jaws need lubrication, apply a light oil to the screw.

Tips and warnings

  • When working with power tools, always wear appropriate safety gear, including safety glasses.

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