DIY Moxon Vise Concept

I use to explore the internet for woodworking sites and other things that interest me (technology, conspiracy theories, extreme sports, alien technology, etc…).

A few days ago I stumbled across this:

First I thought: “COOL!”

Then I tought: “Holy Crap that’s expensive!”

And then I inevitably thought: “I can make that.”

After a bit more research I found I was not the only one with this idea; there were several instances of people buying ACME threaded rods and nuts, and making hand wheels and essentially replicating the vise for about $50.

But I thought better of that. I thought, I know of something cheap, with ACME threads and nuts incorporated that I can modify to suit my needs:

TaDa! C-Clamp!

But you may be wondering, “what is the purpose of a Moxon vise that is not served by a regular vise?” Supposed you have a 4-foot long board, and you want to sand, cut, plane, or otherwise modify one end of the board. With a regular vise, you would have to put the board horizontally into the vise, and work sideways on the end grain. Because a Moxon vise is open in the middle, the board can be placed vertically in the vice, with the majority of the board below the vise, and the end you want to work on kept securely at a comfortable working height. That’s why you would want a Moxon vise.

I haven’t gotten around to making the vise yet (I just thought of it yesterday), but rather than make you wait to see what I intend to do, I made my Moxon vise in Sketchup.

Step 1: Purchase two (2) 8″ industrial C-Clamps:

Step 2: Cut the majority of the “C” off to make it look like this:

Step 3: Cut slots and drill holes in a 2×4 to hold the “nut” portion of the modified clamp:

Step 4: Drill holes and place washers on a piece of wood to make the face piece (I suspect something stronger than a 2×4 would be good here):

Step 5: Drill corresponding holes in the front of your workbench (which happens to have a 2×4 frame), attach the base piece and thread the clamps into their corresponding  “nuts”:

One key difference between my design and Moxon’s, is that my threaded rods are movable, and are threaded into the base to tighten the vise, rather than having them statically mounted into the base and tightening the vise by screwing a threaded hand wheel onto it.

I suspect this allows the tradition Moxon vise to be mounted to the face of a solid wood workbench because the threaded rods do not need to extend beyond the back of the vise. But since by workbench is not solid wood, but rather plywood on  a lumber frame, I can extend the threads beyond the vise.

The advantage of my design is that it will not have long threaded rods extending out from my workbench when the vise is closed.

I’m not sure when I’ll get the chance to actually build this vice, but I will build it, and I will write about it when I do.


6 thoughts on “DIY Moxon Vise Concept

  1. I believe that the original Moxon vise did have threads that turn into the bench (like yours) but Benchcrafted modified the design. But I’ve been wrong before.

    What size of C-clamps did you buy? I know that the larger ones often have coarser Acme threads than the small ones.


    • I think you’re right. I read the description on the BenchCrafted model, and they designed it the way they did so that you can quickly tighten down the vise by freely spinning the heavy cast-iron hand wheels; spinning the screw itself (as in mine and the original Moxon design) causes too much friction for things to spin freely.
      I’m building my vice using 8″ clamps, which are the biggest ones I could find at Harbor Freight. The threads are coarser than some of the smaller clamps, but honestly I wish they were more coarse, because I’m a little concerned that the vice may take too long to open and close with the threads as fine as they are.
      Another thing I’ll be doing is using the extra hand wheels from the second table saw I purchased, which are about the right size for this application.

  2. Pingback: DIY Moxon Vise « GarageSandals

    • These are a clever idea too! My only concern with them is that the threaded region of the bar seems a bit short. By the time you added the vise jaws, would there be enough clamping capacity?

      • In the picture it makes it look like there is only threaded steel on each end of the grip. In actuality it is a completely solid piece of threaded steel with a rubber grip/sleeve over the top in the middle of it. The sleeve only needs to be cut or twisted off. Most people I have seen make a Moxon style vise end up thinking 12 inches might be too long instead of too short.

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