Are you spending time trying to figure out how to install woodworking vise to your workbench? If you do, you’re not alone, for when I was just kickstarting my woodworking career, one of the things that challenged me most was the installation process of my woodworking vises. Since the muscle of your workbench depends on these woodworking vises, you need to install them right.
The woodworking vise, of course, allows you to clamp your wood projects to your workbench. It is designed to support and hold both large and small wood pieces. Moreover, it is usually wrought in durable metal with wide jaws. It can also withstand a tremendous amount of pressure, making your woodworking tasks easy and safe.
Facts About Mounting a Woodworking Vise
Since the woodworking vise carries an excellent clamping ability, manufacturing industries and professional woodworkers often use it. They use it for completing different woodworking tasks. They also use it when filing, gluing, drilling, sawing, and planing.
The woodworking vise is usually mounted to the workbench and secured in place. You’ll find this vise attached to the back, front, and close to the left and right ends. Once mounted, it can provide tremendous clamping power, securing the workpiece to the workbench while you work on this workpiece.
However, if you don’t correctly install the woodworking vise, you might damage your workpiece and the vise itself. Woodworking vises, of course, come in different varieties. As such, they sport different mounting positions.
Factors to Consider Before Installing Woodworking Vise
If it is your first time installing a woodworking vise on your workbench, you might be at a loss as to how to do it. It will help if you familiarize yourself with the following important factors to consider before installing a woodworking vise to your workbench:
Vise Selection and Location
You will learn that there are two different types of vises based on where you mount them. These types include face vises and end vises. Face vises get attached to the front of the workbench. End vises, however, are installed to the end of the workbench. The most flexible and complete workbenches usually come with both these types of workbench vises.
If you’re a right-hander, you should mount your face vise at the front edge’s far left. Meanwhile, if you’re a left-hander, you should mount your face vise to the right-hand corner of your workbench’s front. Another thing is that when you retrofit your workbench, you should ensure that the vise mechanism will not get in the way of the workbench legs. Shift the top when needed to accommodate your woodworking vise.
Another thing is that you should invest in a larger face vise because this face vise gets used for general purposes and planing edges. You would also use the face vise with the bench dogs for securing boards.
It will suffice to have a smaller end vise. Choose an end vise around 7-inch model, considering its dog will only be 3-1/2 inches from the bench’s front edge. This can make the clamping of workpieces for face-planing convenient and easy.
Determine the Mounting Method
Installing a woodworking vise might entail creating spacer blocks for setting the metal jaws’ tops below the surface of the workbench while you screw the vise to the bench’s underside. Drive from the vise screw’s end its roll pin. Then do away with the connecting bracket as well as the front jaw. Afterward, you should degrease the vise’s protective coating.
You can figure out the spacer blocks’ thickness by placing, upside-down, the rear jaw on the inverted benchtop. Measure the projection of the jaw’s top beyond the underside. If you’re using a 7-inch vise, you should add a quarter of an inch to your measurement. Add a half-an-inch if you’re installing a 10-inch vise.
You can calculate the cheeks’ size by measuring the bearing of the rear jaw and adding to the cheek width to allow it to extend 1/8″ over the bench surface once installed. Afterward, you should ensure that both cheeks are as the rear cheek’s size, utilizing a 3/4″ hardwood.
Countersink your rear jaw’s holes. Afterward, attach, using flathead wood screws, the rear cheek, and the front cheek utilizing roundhead washers and screws.
Then create your spacer blocks. To provide dog clearance, ensure you use two spacer blocks. Make sure they suit the mounting hole surfaces on the bracket of the rear jaw. Then, sandwich your blocks between the bench and the bracket.
Figure out the mounting holes’ locations and begin drilling clearance holes through the spacer blocks. Then screw or glue the spacers in position. Afterward, you can attach your vise to the top, utilizing the longest lag screws you have (3/8″).
Then, install the connecting bracket, roll pin, and washer. Turn the benchtop upright and plane the wooden cheeks’ top to level it with the workbench top.
Simple Steps on How to Mount a Wood Vise
Before mounting your wood vise, you need to figure out the design of your workbench and plan carefully where you will install it. Below are the simple steps you can follow to install your wood vise on your workbench:
Step 1: First, You Need to Select Which Side of the Workbench You Will Mount the Work Vise
Select the bottom point where you will be comfortable with your wood vise. Your aim at this point is to attach your wood vise onto the workbench securely.
Step 2: Set Up the Wood Vise
Position the wood vise on the place where you want to bolt it. Please make sure that its jaws’ top edge must be at the same surface level as the workbench top when you mount it. Ensure likewise that you got enough room for screwing full-length screws and positioning guides if ever you close the wood vise’s jaws.
Step 3: Measure Accurately
Mark out the point where you will make holes for bolting. The holes setup will depend on which wood vise type you will use. Ensure that you consult the manual and guides.
Step 4: Drill the Holes
After marking the holes, you can drill the holes to bolt the vise to your workbench. Follow your marks. Then, select the correct screw size, matching the table width. You can use your power drill to drill these holes.
Step 5: Start Bolting
Once done with the drilling process, you can position the wood vise’s jaw to the holes. Set the bolts into the holes. Use the lock washers between the mounting bracket and the pins to ensure proper load distribution of your fastener.
Step 6: Install the Wood Vise
After attaching the stationary jaw, insert the screw and guide bars connected to the sliding jaw. Insert the screw on the hole. Afterward, rotate to adjust the handle.
Steps on Mounting a Wood Vise with a Base
You will also find wood vises that come with a base. You should install these wood vises on the workbench top. If you happen to have this type of wood vise, you need to follow the mounting instructions below:
Step 1: Position the wood vise!
First, you need to set the wood vise where you would mount it. Ensure that the stationary jaw is facing a bit past the table edge. In this way, you can clamp longer pieces of workpieces without the workbench getting in the way.
Step 2: Mark your Measurements
Measure the point where you will drill holes and mark the points where you will drill the holes.
Step 3: Drill the Holes
You should select the right drill bit for drilling the holes. Start drilling holes on your marked points. Do not put excess pressure when drilling on materials like plywood. Otherwise, the plywood will splinter at its bottom.
Step 4: Screw the Wood Vise
Check if the wood base’s holes match the drilled holes. Align your wood vise and set the bolts tightly. You can use modified washers onto the hole to get additional toughness. Put a washer underneath the hole likewise. Also, place a lock washer and nut while you tighten the bolts.
Step 5: Mount the Vise
Utilize a socket wrench to tighten the bolt and a standard wrench for holding the nut. Make sure you lock the bolts tightly.
Steps on Mounting a Portable Wood Vise
You will also find portable wood vises. With these vises, you won’t need to drill holes anymore. You only need to clamp them onto the workbench edge wherever you need to use it. These vises also come with a built-in clamp for securing the wood vise. Below are the simple steps on how to do it:
Step 1: Select a Side Where You Will Install It
The thing about the portable vise is that you can install it anywhere as long as you got enough space for clamping it.
Step 2: Position the Vise
Set the vise onto your chosen point and rest its mounting bracket onto the workbench. Vise clamp underneath.
Step 3: Clamp Tightly
Then, secure the vise as you turn the clamping lever. Keep the lever rotating until you have clamped the vise firmly onto the workbench.
Providing your workbench with the best woodworking vise will give it the holding power it needs. Without a vise, the workbench is simply an assembled table, sans the required muscle for adequately securing the workpieces. With a properly installed woodworking vise, however, you equip your workbench with its needed force to make woodworking easy for you.
The installation of woodworking vise might seem tricky for beginners. So, if you’re a beginner, you need to plan how to install it carefully. With the right plan and knowledge on installing it properly, you will surely breeze through the installation process without any issue or problem.
Jason is a 40-year-old woodworker, carpenter and author who have been involved in the woodworking and woodcraft industry with 17 years of experience. He is expertise in technical aspects, woodcraft and furniture building projects.