Full Chisel Blog

January 28, 2012

The Moxon Vise

This post is inspired by a recent completion of a tool I made a while back, see here.  I needed to add a cleat and after finding some of the yellow poplar that I used to build the tenon clamp, I cut a 6″ long piece.  In the side of the clamp I cut a full mortise ¾” deep and glued it in place with Fish Glue, I will peg it later.  Now when I use the holdfast to secure the clamp, the hold fast is out of the way.  I then either had an epiphany or thought the whole thing up.

Looking at the cleat as a method of securing this clamp and other planing and sawing appliances, I considered that perhaps this is how the Moxon Vise was also secured to the bench.  The holdfast might get in the way with this interpretation.  Then I also noticed the similarities between the movement of this clamp and the garter to the original engraving from Moxon’s work.






I first illustrated the Moxon Vise here.  I drew two illustrations as to how the vise was used.  However there was one mistake, I failed to draw one more hole on the workbench top.  This hole can be important as I will explain later*.

From the very beginning I have had inquiries as to how the vise was attached to the bench.  Up until now I did not know but I think I may have come up with a possible solution.  The screws need garters as mentioned by Henry Mercer in Ancient Carpenter’s Tools, so extra screw sticks out front and does not complicate things on the back of the vise.  The cleat allows the vise to be mounted on the underside of the bench by inverting the holdfast*.

This looks like a much better method of holding the vise chops.



  1. That is a possible way to fasten the vice to the bench. Especially if your cutting dove tails or tennons. I don’t know how stable it would be for any heavy use for the vice. The hold fast might not hold it without moving around very well. Also wouldn’t you want the vice jawls even with the top edge of the bench. Just my thoughts.

    Comment by Berl Mendenhall — January 28, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

  2. Stephen, not exactly on topic, but I have a question about the Ruobo benches – why the extreme angle on the outside dovetailed through tenon for the leg? And for that matter, why the dovetail at all? I live in France and have seen benches made that way, but have also seen old benches with a single or double through tenon. Maybe I am slow, but it seems kind of a fussy joint to cut, and in my admittedly limited experience, unique to this style of bench (I’ve never seen the joint in furniture, for instance) so there must be a reason for it.

    Comment by Brian Anderson — February 1, 2012 @ 9:26 pm

  3. Berl,
    It is possible the vice had two tenons as some tools from that time period have. I think the tenon clamp works much better in this configuration the square edge keeps it from twisting under the holdfast.

    That is a very good question to which I don’t have an answer, but I will keep looking. I think you are right that this may be the only occurance of that joint.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — February 8, 2012 @ 10:51 am

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