Saturday, August 27, 2011

Wagon Vise Design

Based on sage advice from friends, I bought soft maple for the base of my bench rather than poplar. I wasn't able to get 16/4, so I'll need to glue up some boards, but this is a much better choice in the long run.

In the meantime, I came up with what I think is a good design for a wagon vise. It's one that I can add to the thick-slab benchtop anytime and requires no hardware, just some careful chiseling.

I believe the single wooden screw with handle will provide enough pressure.  I've never had to tighten the vise too hard to keep a board immobile. In fact, clamping too hard can make a board bow.

But I'd like to hear what you think.  I've been known to be persuaded by wise counsel.


upriver said...

Wagon vises look very cool... but I am just sticking with a Veritas wonderdog. Cheaper, simpler, movable. Have you considered one?

mwh said...

I'm intrigued by your wagon vise. Please keep us updated on its construction, and your evaluation after some use.

Kari Hultman said...

upriver, Veritas certainly has some well-engineered products. I did consider the wonder dog, but decided that I wanted something inset and made of wood. No idea why--just personal preference. I may get some Veritas hold-downs for the deadman and benchtop, though.

Kari Hultman said...

mwh, I will definitely do that.

Anonymous said...

Maybe make the groove a slot the width of the bench dog so you can push it up/knock it out through the bottom? Be a lot easier if you only have a quarter-inch of dog sticking up.

Ralph Bagnall said...

Lee Valley makes a very nice flush mount bench vise I reviewed a while back, but I understand the desire to make your own.

My only advice (pun intended) would be to cut the dovetail slot BEFORE laminating the bench top together. You can cut the slot through the top layer before gluing which should be a lot easier than trying to chisel it out.

Be sure to let us see the final product.


mmyjak said...

I looked at this vise and considered it for some time. I liked the setup with the hand wheel .. as shown on the maker's website. But then I realized that the only difference between this vise and the traditional tail vise was the loss of a side clamp, which I'd seen Klaus use effectively to cut dovetails. That said, wagon vise does make for a clean installation.

I like the idea of using soft maple for the base. I was thinking of using something really heavy - Ipe perhaps, as its relatively inexpensive (or some other Brazilian import.)

What ever you choose to build Kari, I'm sure it will be exquisite! If you haven't got it all ready, I would recommend "The Workbench Book" by Scott Lamdis. I've not yet read "The Workbench: A complete Guide to Creating Your Perfect Bench" but its next on my wish list.

Cheers -

Ben said...

I think that looks really cool, Kari. My one reservation is that, with a wooden screw, you might regret the lack of a quick-release or some sort of way to move it in and out quickly.
Of course, maybe being forced to slow down now and then is good for the soul and the craft.

Tom Stephenson said...

Two comments: First, have you considered using bed bolts/regular nuts/bolts/washers for the stretchers/aprons to make it knock down? I'm about to build a new bench and will be using hardware to keep it tight together.
Second, are you going to make your own wooden screw for the vise? I'm very intrigued by Schwarz's Moxon vise and have considered making a double screw vise for my new bench. The double screw kits are very expensive and I've thought about making mine ala CS in his Moxon video. Look forward to your results. Can't wait to see that Cherry top!

will said...

A small detail - perhaps an unsymetrical shape for the handle ... gripping and tightening/loosening would be easier.

Craig said...

I'm not sure this would be an issue but on my wagon vise, the dog causes the dog block to rise (tilt) as it clamps, which may cause a wedging action with your dovetail shape. Also, having something you can spin is really nice (I have a wheel on mine).

Hand Made Matters said...

I think I sent you some photos of my bench and the square, wooden dogs with side springs I made a few years ago when the subject came up.
Glad to see that it’s on the agenda again. On the subject of dogs, I dislike metal dogs in the vicinity of cutting tools. I would prefer to damage a wooden dog than an expensive cutting edge and believe me, my wooden bench dogs have the scars to prove it!

Just one additional point.
Looking at the sketch of the screw vice, I’d counsel not permanently gluing the stationery block in place. Instead, I would hold it in with recessed screws and a slotted key for alignment so that the whole thing can be taken apart for repairs. The reason is that being wooden and relocated on occasions, it is bound, in time, to get dented, swell, shrink …. You name it.
On further thought, while I was at it, I’d make two sets that are quickly interchangeable for running repairs.

Keep it up.

Howard in Wales

Stephen Shepherd said...

The concept is alright however those dovetails in the bench are going to get clogged with shavings and sawdust.


Unknown said...

Kari, I think Maple was an excellent choice for your base. As for the wagon vise - is it going to be a wooden screw and handle? With it protruding like that I know I'd end up bashing my hip on it repeatedly and I'd be afraid of snapping it off.

Kari Hultman said...

As always, I'm very appreciative of your thoughtful responses and suggestions. You guys come up with stuff that never occurs to me. I may just wind up building a regular end vise from wood, including wood screw. I'm not wild about metal on a bench or metal fasteners, so I look for ways to use wood instead. Fortunately, this is something that can be added after the bench is built so there's time to think it through. Thanks again for your comments!

John Cashman said...

Is that wooden screw handle both octagonal and tapered? Very sexy. I would have to say I would go out of my mind every time I had to turn that screw very far in or out. I don't have that sort of patience.

Anonymous said...

Two comments.
First, unless you want to retrain your brain, you need to make this a left-handed thread.
Second, I would use a garter to hold the end block in place rather than glue, what happens when you strip a thread or need some other repair?

Fred Blotnic said...

Its already been stated but the only comment I have is that the handle needs a different design so that you wont wear your arm out moving the clamping part back and forth. either a wheel or off center handle. other than that it looks great.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kari,

Love the drawing--you are so talented! I like the vice but I worry about the end-grain holding the threaded block for the screw. Tapping end grain will not hold, in my experience.

I think you should add an "end-cap" that screws or bolts on so that you tap side-grain. Otherwise I love the dovetail key shape.


St.J said...

Lovely design Kari.
Are you going to try to make the end of the thread captive in the dog hole block?

Cody C said...

Like previously stated when clamping pressure is applied this is just going to cause the dovetail to bind. You could instead just create a stepped shoulder to capture the sliding dog block. I really like your simple design. Also, I would thread the dog block and use a garter where the handle enters the top so that when the vise is retracted the handle doesn't stick out. This is what benchcrafted does with their vises.

Superhero!! said...

Wagon vise!!
I added a wagon vise to my workbench and I can tell that little block is very very handy.
Mine is builded with very basic stuff:
threaded rod
standard nuts
steel leftover
some help from a blacksmith
and a lot of DIY attitude!!! :)
Your design looks fine, but...
isn't going to be slow?
I added a big wheel to my own wagon vise, it looks silly but it moves almost alone... you'll see, just a hard push to the wheel and the inertia does the most of the work.
You can see my workbench here:
Sorry, it's in spanish because I'm a spanish speaker but you can click on the pictures to see them in full size.

Superhero!! said...

oh, one more thing:
Why just one hole? Add a second hole in the dog block and there is no need to travel a lot

Anonymous said...

I made my bench over 15 years ago and have used wagon vise countless times so my suggestions are based on experience not theory. Two holes will serve you better than one. Overtime you find it faster to move the bench dog than to wind the screw. Locate the handle of the screw as close as possible to the end of the bench (it's a real hip bumper that can be a real pain), and I'd think twice about the handle will be to slow and your wrist won't like it after a long day. Last, I'd cut dados in the block and bench then put a different species of wood as a runner. You'll be able to create a little wiggle room with the block and a waxed runner will allow the block to glide faster. Hope that helps. Been following your blog for a while. Thanks for your posts. Len

Superhero!! said...

It's me, again.
Now I have a post with some details of my wagon vise construction.
I think it may be usefully.

Aaron said...

I'd echo some of the other comments, Kari. That handle looks fragile, and you might want to make the whole thing removeable for when you travel so it doesn't break. It will likely be slow, even with a 6 tpi thread box which is standard - but so are the Wonder Dogs, which is what I use.

Come to think of it, how will you attach the moveable clamping block to the threaded screw? The stationary block will be tapped so the screw moves in and out, but you won't be able to permanently affix the moveable block to the screw - or else it won't turn. I guess you could just have a shallow hole in the moveable block which works on the "push" stroke and on the "pull" stroke the thread pops out. But how about a small groove in the end of the threaded screw and a pin driven down through the moveable block to act as a garter?

Maybe I'm over thinking again. :)

S. Graham said...

Could you dome the bottom of the dovetail slider and anchor so that crap is easier to blow out?

Kari Hultman said...

I can't begin to tell you how glad I am that I ran this by you guys. You've come up with things that would never have occurred to me. I'm going to bag this altogether and either build a wooden vise that matches the ones on my antique bench and which work great, or have no vise at all. I heard from several people who don't even use an end vise. And come to think of it, I've probably used the one on my existing bench half a dozen times in 20 years.

I came up with the design for this wagon vise from a miter jack. It might look nice, but it does not translate well to a functional design.

Thanks again for your insightful comments.

PABLO said...

Been lurking fo awhile!
Now my 2 euros worth. May I suggest the use of a hexogonal wooden nut(ergo 3” benchtop= 3” across the flats hex, this will allow chips to drop through). Droll or chop dog holes on forward angle(the jaw will tilt slightly becauuse of clearence). Large 2 ½” screw with 2 or 3 TPI, tooth form should be flatter 45 degree rather than 60Deg. Make the screw first, it can be used to make nut. The movable jaw should be long enough for 2 or 3 dog holes.

I have been trying to design a vice where the screw is captive & counterbored into the bench as to be flush with end or face of bench.

Best of luck on youe endevour,


Anonymous said...

Your idea will work. Use an end cap to resist the backwards force of the vise. That will be much stronger.


August 8, 2012

Unknown said...

So how did it turn out? :-)

Kari Hultman said...

I opted to not add an end vise at all and have not found a need for one. Instead, I've been using a wonderpup from LV. Works great.