Sunday, November 13, 2016

Wooden Machine Vise

How to make a wooden vise? Clamps and vises are great for any shop and if you can make your own that is even better. Having many tools in your shop is a good thing. You never know when you need that extra vise and you can work on more than one project at a time.

I will show you how to make this wooden vise, actually it looks and works like a machine vise so I will call it a wooden machine vise.  

There is no shortage of different types of vises or how to make them online. I made this wooden vise   and it has over 900,000 views. I get many comments from people who say they want to build it.

This vise was one of the first ones that I made and I still use it regularly. It works great for clamping and gluing larger pieces.



To start with I will be using a piece of engineered flooring, it is multi cross layered plywood and 1/8" oak layer on top. This piece is cut 7 1/2" x 6"  and will make a solid base for the vise.

The Handle

The handle is made at this is time so I will be able to determine the length of the vise. I will use a 10" carriage bolt and modify it, first I will cut the head of the bolt and then put on a wooden handle. 

The bolt is placed in a vise so I can cut part of the head of the bolt. I used my  vise jaw liners to protect the thread. I used an angle grinder and shaped the round part of the head and made it square.

The head will be cut square so it will fit a 15mm socket.

The next part is to drill some circles, I used spruce and oak to make a nice contrast.

They are stacked and glued onto the bolt. You can use a nut to clamp them together.

I put the bolt in the drill press and sanded the handle smooth. Sanding this will give you a clean and good looking handle.

For more details about sanding round handles see my video making wooden pipes.

Making the guides and jaws

The guides are for the jaws to slide on. I did not pull out my sled but used my miter gauge and stop block to quickly cut a couple of pieces the exact length.

This will be the fixed piece is for the handle and it has to be strong so I used 2 pieces of oak and glued them together.

The pieces are put together roughly to see how things will fit and how it looks. So far so good.

A hole is drilled in the handle support for the threaded bolt, special care is taken when marking and getting the right size drill bit. You want things exact and to make sure there is no play.

This is the fixed support for the handle. The nut outline is traced and then chiseled out. After I got the right depth for the nut it is epoxied in the wood.

The sliding jaw

The sliding jaw has 2 pieces which will be glued together. On one piece a Forstner bit is used to enlarge the hole for the nut. The depth of the hole is only slightly larger than the nut.

This time you will epoxy the nut to the threaded rod, this will be set aside overnight and tested the next day for strength.

The two parts of the jaw can be glued together making one jaw. You can use a washer on one side to help the nut turn smoother when turning clockwise or clamping.

A plate is made from some scrap metal, this will slide under the guides and screwed into the bottom of the sliding jaw. This will help keep the jaw from wandering under pressure.

The large hole in the base makes it easy to put in 2 screws. Also it will be easy to get at later when they need to be adjusted.

The last part is the front jaw, it is clamped predrilled and screwed together with  large 3 inch wood screws.


A vise is a woodworker's best friend.

This vise has a solid sliding jaw and a quick open and close handle. There will be many uses for this vise.  Making them is fun and will save you money since they can be costly. 

Having more vises in your shop will come in handy and they are similar to clamps so don't forget the the old woodworking adage " you can't have enough clamps." 

How many vises do you have in your shop?

See Also:

    large clamp                   Angle drilling jig         Upright table clamp



  1. I'll do it! Real pretty; very useful.

    1. I hope you can make one, I am getting a lot of use from it.

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