Saturday, May 11, 2013

An Etau for You

With Handworks only a couple weeks away, we wanted to bring something special to the event.

So we dusted off our old French tool catalogs and set to work designing an etau.

What is an etau? The word simply means "vise" (plural "etaux") in French. It's pronounced kind of like "hey-tow" but don't pronounce the "h". Say it without the southern drawl. (thanks to Louis Bois for the French lesson)

Sharing its basic form and function with French carver's chops, this etau clamps to any surface via two wooden C-clamps scabbed onto the sides of the rear jaw. This serves a couple purposes, in our opinion.

First, it allows a screw (serving as a fulcrum/parallel mechanism) to pass through the rear jaw down low, and be clear of the two C-clamp screws.

Secondly, it allows two points of contact with the bench, reducing the tendency for rotation that would normally happen with single-point clamping.

As you can see in the etau drawing above (from the La Forge Royale catalog) the jaw is kept parallel via a St. Peter's Cross instead of a screw.

Since the St. Peter's Cross eliminates the need for space behind the rear jaw, we thought we'd also trim off the C-Clamps. They serve no functional purposes beyond holding the vise to the bench.

A trimmer, more compact vise would also mean greater portability.

In our version we used a single mounting screw from below, coupled with two "arms" from above, which provides three-point clamping, reducing the tendency for rotation. Suede on the bottom of the arms and at the back of the rear jaw eliminates any movement. The vise is as rock solid as the surface its clamped to. The upper and lower arms are dadoed into the rear jaw.

Right now we're just enjoying the classic appeal of this vise. We'd like to make a run of them at some point, but we have several other new products we're working on at the moment that are ahead in the queue.

We'll have this vise in our space at Handworks.

To read more about the etau at the Chris Schwarz Blog, click here. 


  1. Hi Jameel,

    You just might've out-cooled yourself with this one! I love it and I'll be sure to keep my eyes open further down the road.

    Cool Daddio!!!


  2. Hmmm.. Now I can clamp this to the shave horse and carve windsor seats everywhere I go. Another home run Jameel. Wish I could be at "Handworks" but it falls the same week I go to Kelly Mehler's with Peter Galbert. I know you will have fun up there.

  3. Jameel.

    I really like the black screw and handle. The contrast it creates with the beech is really sharp.
    Will this be the same with the production Etau's? I hope so!

    Thanks again,


  4. Great idea Greg! Wish you could be there too.

    Michael, we're not sure if we'll even offer this as a product at this point. Chances are good, but probably not until sometime in 2014.

    1. Jameel, Well every time you come out with a new product you make a whole bunch of woodworkers
      very happy. If this makes it into production, I'm sure it will do the same, I know it will for me.

      If you want to sell it after Handworks (unfortunately I don't think I can swing it) I'd be more than happy to purchase it from you. Heh, heh, heh. Shipping? Not an issue.

      Take care my friend,


  5. Is this the St peters cross you currently sell on the website, or a scaled down version? The vise looks great.


  6. Replies
    1. Thanks! What is the length of the Crisscross members of this one?



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