Full Chisel Blog

January 9, 2009

The Moxon Workbench

Filed under: Historical Material,Moxon,Of Interest,Proper Tools,Uncategorized,Workbench — Stephen Shepherd @ 5:55 pm

Well here is my take on the Moxon Workbench from The Art of Joinery, 1703.  The bench is rendered correct in the engraving, others such as the plow plane is reversed as does happen with engravings of the time period.  The reason the engraving is correct is the catch is in the proper position for working right handed.

Moxon Work bench

And here is how the vise can also be used.  I think the front vise on the right is for dovetailing and other joinery, not for holding boards when planing, that is the job of the single screw vise on the left.  The double threads don’t need to be that long and are contained within the back chop.

Moxon Bench 2

The twin screw vise can be repositioned as mentioned in Moxon’s text and secured with a holdfast.  I am not sure how the vise is secured to the front of the bench, where it is in the position it is in the engraving.

The perspective is raked in the engraving of Moxon’s workbench and that may account for the direction of the single hand screw on the vise on the left, the first vise that Moxon describes.



  1. Stephen, You put my issue with that table into words.

    The attachment of that vise always bothers me when I see that picture. The only way I can think of that would be close to stable and removable easily would be a dove tail, kind of like a french hook, that the back of the vise would slide down on and wedge into place. Nothing like that is in any of the pictures, so the table seems kind of unfinished to me when I look at it.

    On another note, my brother just gave me some lovely chunks of ancient lighter pine. What would be a good classical use, apart from burning. I have seem pictures of lovely pens turned from it, but it is such a different sort of wood, I would hate to turn it all into pens and pencils.


    Comment by Bob Strawn — January 10, 2009 @ 10:34 am

  2. Stephen,

    It makes sense that putting the vise *on top* of the bench would raise it quite a bit, practical for dovetailing; it appears the boards could be around 6 inches wide. What about workholding from the bench top, too? I cannot even speculate on the rest of the stuff, but I know others, much more qualified than I, will probably provide comments (I hope).

    Comment by Al Navas — January 11, 2009 @ 5:56 pm

  3. Bravo. I think you have it nailed. I couldn’t quite connect the dots, though I tried.


    Comment by Chris Schwarz — January 11, 2009 @ 7:11 pm

  4. Bob,

    There are still unresolved matters with this workbench, and I am confident that this and other issues can be answered in an historically relevant manner. The vise is on my short list of things to make.


    Welcome and thanks for your comments. The movable double hand screw vise could be an extremely handy, non-permanent bench vise. I am not a fan of fixed vises.


    First of all thank you for putting this work into our hands, and thank you for your comment. My initial reaction was a knee-jerk but I came to my senses and began studying the words and examining the engravings. It has been a pleasure to have the text to make a proper comparison.

    Again thank you for making this available and I wish you all the best.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — January 12, 2009 @ 6:44 pm

  5. Not sure how I stumbled onto this post – maybe I’ve been trying to figure out what The Schwarz is doing to his Roubo. I have a feeling it will involve this Moxon bench, especially since he’s just pierced his crochet. 🙂

    I’m still puzzling over how that double-screw vise attaches to the bench. I suppose you COULD attach it with the screws themselves – just cut the threads right into the bench. But that doesn’t make sense – if you had threads cut into the bench you would only need the near jaw, and could remove the far one. (I actually think that might be a good idea.)

    Thanks for this very interesting post – over a year late! 🙂

    Comment by Eric — May 12, 2010 @ 1:43 am

  6. Eric,
    Very good question, I wonder why it took over a year for anyone to ask. I sure wish I had an answer but I don’t. There is a possibility that it has a tenon on the back jaw that fits into a mortise in the edge of the bench, but I just don’t know.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — May 12, 2010 @ 6:12 am

  7. I had a similar idea as I consider how I’m going to build my Roubo (or maybe I should say Moxon) bench. I was thinking that if I incorporate a wagon vise with dog holes, the rear jaw could have dowels sticking out the base that could fit right into the dog holes on the bench, thus rendering the holdfast (or any clamp) unnecessary. I doubt it would wobble if the dowels fit snugly and went entirely through the bench top. If they did wobble at all, I suppose some sort of system could be set up underneath to keep the dowels from budging.

    Comment by Eric — May 12, 2010 @ 9:22 pm

  8. […] it may influence my own plans, I’ve stumbled across a couple of others who are already there. Stephen Shepherd shows Moxon’s twin-screw vise and its excellent potential for dovetailing. Others have chimed in on this discussion; Gary Roberts […]

    Pingback by You Got Your Moxon in My Roubo! You Got Your Roubo in My Moxon! « Adventures in Woodworking — May 13, 2010 @ 7:17 pm

  9. As far as attaching the vise to the bench, how about a system of wooden screws? if your benchtop is thick enough, you could have tapped holes in the face and side, mating clearance holes in the rear chop and two 1.5″ wooden screws, counterbored into the chop?

    Comment by Trevor Walsh — July 19, 2010 @ 10:05 am

  10. Trevor,

    Welcome and that is as good an idea as any so far. Thank you.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — July 19, 2010 @ 11:43 am

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