Sep 212018
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I have been hearing about Joseph Moxon and his book Mechanick Exercises for several years now.  Christopher Schwarz of Lost Art Press writes about Moxon all the time and was able to find some details of the Moxon vise in Andre Roubo’s L’art du Menuisier, including a detailed drawing at Plate 280 of a twin screw wide clamping vise.

Over the years there have been several iterations of the Moxon vise. Benchcrafted in particular has a wonderful version of the vise which includes screws and hand wheels. Highland sells the hardware and you furnish the lumber. Lake Erie Toolworks offers another version through Highland and their version comes with the lumber included.

A new kit by Acer-Ferrous Toolworks just came on the scene at only $99.99. I got a kit from Highland to put together and give you my opinion. Included in the kit are two wooden screws and two wooden nuts made from lovely hard maple and beautifully machined with wooden threads. You will have to furnish your own wood for the jaws, recommended at 4 inches wide and 1-1/2 inches thick. The length can be whatever you want it to be depending on what kind of work you plan on doing. The instructions recommend 32 inches long which should give you about 24 inches or so of clamping room between the screws.

I have had some rough sawn walnut drying in my basement for several years, so I pulled out some of it to make the jaws. I only had enough inch and a half material for one jaw so I glued up two thinner pieces to make the other. I milled them both down to the dimensions recommended on the plans and then set out the holes for drilling on my drill press. As recommended, I used a 1-1/2 inch spade bit which moved right through the walnut jaws. It is critical to have the holes perpendicular to the face of the jaws, so the drill press is the best way to go. Once the holes were drilled, the next task was to glue the wooded nuts to the back of the rear jaw. The trick is to get them in exactly the right spot so they line up with the screw holes in the jaws and let the screws run true. The way to line the screws with the rear jaw holes is to wrap the threads with a shim to keep them centered. The instructions recommend cardboard from a cereal box, though they did not say what brand you had to use.  I only had Honey Nut Cheerios and since I wasn’t sure that would work, I found some thin cardboard in the shop.  

I wrapped the threads with the cardboard and added painter’s tape to get close to the diameter needed to slide snugly through the drilled hole in the rear jaw.  By setting the nut in place on the outside and turning the screw tight through both jaws, I was able to clamp the nut to the outside of the rear jaw while the cardboard shim centered the screw in the rear jaw hole. When I was sure it was all in the right place, I loosened the nut and spread some glue on it, carefully avoiding the threads so it was not one big piece of expensive fire wood. When the glue dried, I screwed the vise apart, saving the tape and cardboard, and then put the other nut on and glued it the same way.

After the glue was dry, I put the whole thing together and checked it out. I realized I had made the jaws slightly shorter than the nuts, so I planed and sanded all the pieces to the same height. I broke all the sharp edges on both jaws to make it pleasing to the touch and it was ready to try out.

When mounted on my bench it certainly works as advertised. Clamping pressure is strong with very little effort. The increase in working bench height due to the height of the jaws is very pleasant when you are trying to do any kind of cuts on the end of a  board. Obviously, this thing lives for making dovetails on the end of long wide boards like a blanket chest or a tool chest. Anything up to about 24 inches wide and maybe 40 inches long would work without any problem.  The whole thing is very sturdy and easy to use.

If I were to make another one of these, (and you can look for this one at the store in the next few days if you want to try it out), I would probably make two changes. While looking over the literature to write this article, I saw where some recommend dropping the bottom edge of the front jaw say half an inch below the rear jaw. That way, the rear jaw sits on top of the bench, and the front jaw is used to align the vise to the front face of the bench. As built, any board clamped into the vise aligns it to the bench, a solution which works nicely for small boards but would be awkward for larger boards.

The second change would likely be a small clamping piece attached to the rear of the back jaw. If you notice in the photo above, my bench dogs are set in from the edge of the bench just a little too far to let the bench dogs grab the vise directly.  If the vise had a clamping piece or was mounted on a flat base that extended onto the bench, then the bench dogs could grab, or two hold downs would catch. In addition, if the front jaw were made shorter than the back jaw, clamping would be easier.

Several articles I saw recommend making a beveled top on the front jaw, so if you are making blind dovetails and need to tilt your saw to the ceiling to keep from cutting the face of the finished dovetail piece, it could be more easily done.  I think it would be easier to simply raise the workpiece.

I have not put finish on the vise yet, though I think I will do so. Several articles recommended not finishing the clamping faces to make it easier to hold the workpiece.

All in all, a good piece of equipment. With a little adaptation to your particular workbench, and if you do the kind of work this vise lends itself to, then the Acer Ferrous Moxon Vise Kit is well worth the price. Stop by the store and get your hands on it and see how you like it.

Sep 192018
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With comfortable pivoting handles, large jaw capacity, and much more, Highland’s new Non-Slip Parallel Bar Clamps will be versatile workhorses in your shop. The sliding jaw incorporates an anti-slip system to prevent it from free fall sliding on the rail when used vertically, yet the jaw slides quickly into position by pushing the handle slightly towards the rail for sliding it closed and pulling it away from the rail to slide the jaw open. These clamps will ease the stress of time-sensitive glue-ups and make life easier for you in the workshop.

In the video below, Justin Moon takes a closer look at these clamps.

Click to find out more information about the Non-Slip Parallel Bar Clamps available at Highland Woodworking.

Sep 122018
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If you are looking to give your shop a bit more flexibility, we’ve got the perfect tool for you. The Rikon 10 inch Bandsaw 10-305 is compact and well-made. It is an excellent starter band saw for those on a budget and useful to owners of larger bandsaws who want to reduce the hassles of blade changes […]

Sep 052018
September Woodworking Poll: How Do You Finance Your Woodworking?
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Let’s face it: Almost no one is giving away free tools, free wood and free fasteners. You need money to feed your woodworking obsession. If you’re like most of us, you like the finer things in life. In woodworking life, anyway. Sure, you can make pretty shavings with a $5 vintage plane, but isn’t that […]

Sep 042018
Cheap Floating Shelves - Tips from Sticks in the Mud – September 2018 – Tip #2
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No Southern-fried Southern boy wants to be called a Yankee, but we share the characteristics of shrewdness and thrift. Thus, each month we include a money-saving tip. It’s OK if you call me “cheap.” Before I made the Domino-supported shelf in this month’s other tip, I had a different foray into floating shelves. Brenda and […]

Sep 042018
A Domino Variation On The Floating Shelf – Tips from Sticks in the Mud – September 2018 – Tip #1
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Welcome to “Tips From Sticks-In-The-Mud Woodshop.” I am a hobbyist who loves woodworking and writing for those who also love the craft. I have found some ways to accomplish tasks in the workshop that might be helpful to you, and I enjoy hearing your own problem-solving ideas. Please share them in the COMMENTS section of each […]

Aug 312018
Interview with Woodworker Terry Chapman (by Terry Chapman)
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Nobody ever interviews me so sometimes I interview myself. Plus even if someone did interview me, they would never know the right questions. I love that show called “Best Thing I Ever Ate”. What’s the best thing you ever ate? My Mother-in-Law’s chocolate pie. She could make the fool out of a chocolate pie. What […]