Saturday, February 23, 2013

Carver's Vise First Look

This past week we finally finished up the last parts of the Benchcrafted Carver's Vise. It's been a long road since the seeds for this project were planted back at WIA in 2011 and after a few hiccups, we're really pleased to be hitting this milestone with this tool. So after work on Friday I took enough parts home to build the first complete version.

Late last year we took delivery of about 600 board feet of 16/4 American beech, and its from that stock that I'm building this vise. Most of the billets we have are around 5-6" wide, so they are all either rift, or dead quartered. This piece is quartered.

On the original vise the front half of the chop is joined to the base with giant through dovetails. The front chop is 2-1/2" thick, and the base in 2-1/8" thick. I used the same technique that I use for joining end caps to front laminates on benches. This joint is a tad easier though since they are not half-blinds. Working with the American beech is a ton of fun. It's not the most cooperative wood, but its close. There is something about beech that just says "hand tool".

The base of the vise features an access hole for the mounting screw and two steel wear plates for durability and smooth repositioning under the head of the mounting screw.

To mount the vise to the bench, the square head of the mounting screw passes up through a square mortise in the base. This allows the mounting screw to stay in place on your bench at all times (recessed flush in another square mortise in your benchtop), and makes the vise quick and easy to mount and dismount.

The head of the screw slides smoothly on the steel wear plates as you pivot and reposition the base.

A cover plate of thin wood protects the mounting screw mechanism and prevents it from fouling with chips and shavings.

A shallow ramp at the end of the cover plate's mortise allows the cover plate to be removed quickly and easily with a simple press.

Like this.

The mounting screw passes through a 3/4" hole in your bench (or in this case a dog hole) and engages with a nut in the form of an iron handwheel. A large and thick steel washer provides a substantial bearing surface for the handwheel.

The screw length is generous, and long enough to accommodate very thick workbenches.The thread pitch is such that the wheel holds the vise very securely without having to crank down on the wheel.

For demonstration purposes we filled the logo with white enamel.

Stock vises will most likely be supplied with unfilled logos (above), although that's not set in stone.

We haven't quite figured out pricing on this vise yet, but we're close. Unlike our other vises, we're offering this vise in a limited run, so once this batch is gone we may or may not make another batch, depending on how these sell.

A limited number of 16/4 beech billets (enough to build one vise) will be available for purchase.

Update: We've been getting a lot of emails in response to this posting. Right now we don't have a wait list, or pre-ordering. When we have details about pricing and availability we'll give a head's-up here. If you have technical questions about the vise itself, feel free to post them below in the comments section and we'll be glad to answer them.

If you'd like to see this complete vise, we're planning on bringing it to the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event next weekend (March 1-2) in Kansas City.


  1. If you're compiling a list of potential customers, put me on it! I can't get to KC to see it, but I don't need to - I know I want it! It looks awesome, even just as parts. Please post photos of the completed vise, I have a towel to wipe the drool from my monitor :-)

    David Taylor

  2. Looking forward to this since checking out the vise you had at WIA 2011. The way this post reads, this will be a build at home vise with billets available? Will there be any completed vises available for purchase.



  3. Why is it that your condor tails fit so much better than mine? Anyway, since I will be at Connecticut Valley this coming week-end, do you think that you could send me a care package from Arthur Bryant's?

  4. What am missing when I look at the vise. I understand how the vice clamps to the bench, but how does it then hold the work piece so you can carve?

  5. ShawnR,

    Go to the previous post below to see a mock up of the finished vise. What you are seeing here are just parts of a whole.



  6. Jameel,
    That is a great looking vise! I can imagine all sorts of uses for that gadget. As always, your attention to details is over the top. I will look forward to getting one of those.

    Jon Fiant

  7. I saw the completed vise in the recent Lie-Nielsen newsletter. What a fantastic addition to add virtually anywhere on your bench. However, having built two benches in the last year, I am bench and vise building done. Finished. That said, I would absolutely buy this vise in completed form. I think you should offer it in kit and completed form. I think you would sell a crap load of these. Dare I say possibly your best selling item. CNC the wood parts. I know, I know... but not all of us wants to make our own tools. I'd rather buy them... then use them. :-)


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