I started thinking about the Moxon Vise after doing a bunch of dovetail work and finding myself stooping to saw the tails boards and pin boards. I looked around the Internet and looked at some blogs on dovetailing and found posts and articles on a “Moxon Vise”. The Moxon vise was first written about by Joseph Moxon in 1678. I looked around the Internet to see if there are commercially available ones that I could buy. Benchcrafted sells one for about $400 complete or you can buy the hand wheels and screws for $149. Then I saw another at Tools for Working Wood for about $189. I decided to build one from scratch and selected the features I liked most from the articles I found on the Internet. I patterned it as a hybrid between the one in Tools for Working Wood and Benchcrafted. The cost to me is about $22 for a 10 foot length of hickory and $5 for a piece of beech just for the wood alone. The hardware is just a standard 1/2 inch bolt – 13 tbreads per inch, a square nut and and 2 jam nuts. All told about $7 for the hardware. I glued a piece of suede to the movable jaw. The suede was $5 from Hobby Lobby. I embedded the jam nut in the fixed jaw. I embedded the square nut into the hand wheel. Jaw opening is about an inch and a half since most of what I dovetail is less than an inch anyway. The fixed jaw has a platform for clamping the tail board for when I mark the pin board with a marking knife. I beveled the movable jaw with a 45 degree bevel to allow me to get close to the jaw when sawing the pin board on half blind dovetails. Yes one has to saw up to minimize the chisel work. Yes, I am a tails first kind of guy. It is critical that both pieces be immobilized when marking the pin board against the tail board. One can see the ears used for clamping the vise to the workbench top. The hand wheels are turned from a doubled piece of beech stock. The 4 inch diameter roughed out on the band saw. I enjoy making tools that make my work more precise and easier.
The Moxon Vise that I built turned our really well. The handwheels spin just as easily as the commercial ones sold by Benchcrafted as one can see from the video below:
The handwheels have been turned on a lathe with a half inch square nut glued in place to a slot chiseled out to fit it. Another aid in marking the pinboards is the construction of a t-beam. See the photo below: The t-beams are easily clamped using a 5/8 inch spacer and a tail board which is exactly the same height as the setup of the pin board and tail board for marking. The 5/8 inch height is a reasonable height to prevent the marking knife from gouging the vise if the knife inadvertently slips. All cutting off the waste using a fret saw can be carried out on the Moxon vise including chiseling. A sacrificial board can be placed onto the top platform. The platform is wide enough to aid in chiseling most boards without damaging the vise – approximately 7 inches wide – shown below. I made a storage compartment underneath the platform to store things such as spacers, marking knives, dovetail gages etc.