Now that I finally have an outfeed/assembly table to work on I could start to think about vise options. Through the years I have had many different dedicated work surfaces but I have never had a vise. I’ve always just clamped whatever I was working with to whatever was solid and in the correct orientation. Sometimes that worked. Most of the time it was just annoying. Because my work table is just a sheet of 3/4” plywood for the top mounting a traditional woodworking vise to the bottom wasn’t the best option. There just isn’t much support that way. Another option is to spend over $150 for a Moxon vise hardware kit online. Then purchase the hardwood that is required to build it. I’m way too cheap for that so I decided to design my own Moxon vise after looking at a few online.
The design I came up with uses pipe clamps. You can use whatever size you have. I have 1/2” pipe clamps so I used them and they ended up having more than enough clamping power. I also used a leftover piece of 1/2” plywood. So this entire vise will be made from scraps I had in the shop. Not one dime was spent which is always nice.
After cutting all the jaw pieces over sized I glue them up. I glue both jaws in the same glue-up to save time. And yes, watching glue dry is just as boring as watching paint dry. So to stay productive and not waste any time I ate some chips.
After the glue dried and I was no longer hungry I jointed one edge of each jaw with my multi function hold down jig and then ripped them to their final width.
Next I trimmed and cut the jaws to length using my cutoff sled.
For standard 1/2” pipe clamps a 7/8” hole is needed. It’s best to setup a stop block and drill all 4 holes at the same time if possible. If you do not have a drill press you can probably get away with using a hand drill but just try to drill as straight as possible. To make the front jaw slide better and not bind as much you can make the opening a horizontal slot instead of a hole. The back jaw needs to remain a 7/8” hole though. Don’t make it any bigger. The reason a horizontal slot will work is it will allow the front jaw to skew left to right as you pull out the pipe. You don’t want to simply use a larger size hole as this will give more room on the top and bottom of the pipe to allow the front jaw to rack top to bottom when you are only clamping on the top edge of the vise.
To attach the back jaw to the base a rabbet is cut.
The base will be held to the bench with hold down screw handles. A slot is cut by drilling two over sized holes first and connecting them with a jigsaw. I’ve recently found out that a decent jigsaw and decent blades will make a fantastic cut. I’ve been a jigsaw hater for years probably due to the fact that I have always had a really crappy jigsaw.
For the hold down screw handles I cut 2” cubes, drilled an undersized hole, and threaded a 3-1/2” carriage bolt through it. To make them a little easier on the hands I chamfered all the edges on the table saw.
I also chamfered the back edges of the back jaw and the front edges of the front jaw. The back was chamfered out of necessity to give my hands more room to operate the hold down screw handles.
With everything verified by a test fit I glued and screwed the back jaw to the base.
After locating and drilling the two holes in my work bench I threaded the handle down to pull a t-nut up from below.
I initially planned on having a few triangular support brackets to brace the back of the back jaw but thought this was just wasted space. So instead I made a simple box to store a block plane, pencil, or any other small hand tools that may be used often with the vise.
The back jaws of the pipe clamps were held on to the back jaw with double sided carpet tape. This worked well for about a day. Since making this I’ve drilled two holes in the back jaw of the pipe clamps and secured them with screws.
My final thoughts: WOW! This is downright awesome. I am absolutely blown away at how well this works. With the entire assembly slid forward you can clamp vertical panels to do end grain work and with the assembly slid backwards you can chop away at a mortise with all of the weight being directly transferred to the bench below. The four layers of 1/2” plywood offer plenty of support and barely flex. The 1/2” pipe clamps hold everything perfectly without wrenching down on them. With barely any pressure on the clamp screws you can really beat on whatever is clamped down and it won’t budge. Now I made mine out of materials I already had but if someone were to go to a box store I would imagine you could get everything you need to make one of these for about $40 to $50. This would include the options to change up the design and make it even wider if you really wanted to. I see absolutely no need in purchasing an expensive hardware kit for a “professional” Moxon vise when you can make one that performs this well for so much less money.