Whether you are a beginner or an experienced woodworker, you have probably heard of a Moxon vise. It is one of the most used and useful tools in any workshop, allowing you to securely clamp your workpiece in place while you saw, chisel, or plane. However, a high-quality Moxon vise can be quite expensive, making it a luxury that not everyone can afford.
But don’t worry, because, in this article, I’ll guide you through the process of building your own DIY Moxon vise step by step. The best part? It is a portable option that can be attached to any workbench using clamps, making it perfect for those who don’t have a lot of space in their workshop.
For this project, we will be using plywood as our primary material, along with a threaded rod and a few nuts that can be easily found at any hardware store. Plywood is a great choice for a Moxon vise, as it is strong, durable, and able to withstand pressure without bending. However, you can also use hardwood such as oak if you prefer.
If you are new to woodworking, this project is an excellent starting point to build your skills. By the end of this guide, you will know how to build a homemade Moxon vise, how to set it up, and how to use it effectively. So, let’s get started!
Homemade DIY Moxon Vise Video
If you want to build a Moxon vise, watch to video below for a step by step guide.
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Table of Contents
- The Material you will need
- General Questions
- What is a Moxon vise used for?
- Can I use hardwood instead of plywood for a Moxon vise?
- What are the advantages of building a Moxon vise instead of buying one?
- How to Build a DIY Moxon Vise
- Step 1: Cut the Jaws
- Step 2: Drill Holes for the Threaded Rod
- Step 3: Prepare the Jaws for the Screws
- Step 4: Make the Vise Spindle
- Step 5: Finish the Front Jaw
- Step 6: Assemble the Moxon Vise
- How to Use a Moxon Vise
- Jigs Used for the Project
*Safety is your responsibility. Make sure you know what you’re doing and take all necessary safety precautions while working with power tools. Safety comes first!
Always be cautious and careful when using any power tool.
Material you will need to build a Moxon Vise
Front Jaw – Plywood 3x – 12mm x 100mm x 480mm
Back Jaw – Plywood 3x – 12mm x 100mm x 600mm
Moxon Vise Kit
Threaded rod 2x – ⌀10mm x 210mm
Nuts 2x – M10 Nuts
Washers 2x – Flat wide washers for a ⌀10mm rod
Handles – beechwood 2x – 40mm x 40mm x 40mm
Steel Rods 2x – 130mm
Drill bit 10mm, 8mm
Wood Glue, Epoxy, Sandpaper
Forstner bit 10mm, Narex chisels
Wolfcraft Clamps, Spray Laquer
Japanese Ryoba saw, CMT flattening router bit
Dewalt Trim Router
Bosch Hand Drill
Makita Circular Saw
Proxxon small table saw
What is a Moxon vise used for?
A Moxon vise is a versatile woodworking tool that is used to hold a workpiece securely while you saw, chisel, or plane. Unlike other types of vises, a Moxon vise is mounted on the top of your workbench and clamps your workpiece vertically. This allows you to work on your project from above, providing you with a clear view of your work and better control over your tools. Moxon vises are especially useful for dovetailing, as they allow you to hold your workpiece at a comfortable height while cutting the dovetails.
Can I use hardwood instead of plywood for a Moxon vise?
Yes, you can use hardwood instead of plywood to build a Moxon vise. In fact, hardwood such as oak is a popular choice for Moxon vises, as it is stronger and more durable than plywood. However, using hardwood will increase the cost of the project, and you may need to adjust the thickness of the wood to ensure that the vise is strong enough to hold your workpiece without bending.
What are the advantages of building a Moxon vise instead of buying one?
Building a Moxon vise instead of buying one has several advantages. Firstly, it is much more affordable. Purchasing a high-quality Moxon vise can cost hundreds of dollars, whereas building your own can be done for a fraction of the cost. Moreover, creating your own vise gives you the flexibility to personalize it to your requirements and desires. You can adjust its dimensions to hold larger or smaller workpieces and incorporate additional features such as a built-in clamp or dog holes.
Let's start building!
Making a Moxon vise involves making the jaws and installing the threaded rods together with the handles (cast wheels).
In this Moxon vise, the jaws are constructed from Baltic birch plywood. The spindles that adjust the jaws are made of sturdy steel threaded rods and the handles are crafted from steel rods and beech wood. The handles provide a comfortable grip and enhance the overall aesthetic of the wood. While this Moxon vise utilizes handmade handles, it is worth noting that pre-made cast wheels can also be used with great success.
The overall dimensions of the Moxon vise are 120mm x 100mm x 600mm.
Moxon Vise properties:
- Material: Baltic birch plywood, Threaded rod, Nuts
- Total dimensions: 120mm x 100mm x 600mm (4.7 inches x 3.9 inches x 23.6 inches)
- Vise Thickness: 72mm (2.8 inches)
- Jaws opening: 120mm
This woodworking project is designed to be beginner-friendly and can be completed over a weekend. Even if you have limited woodworking experience, you can successfully build this Moxon vise by following the step-by-step instructions.
NOTE: When constructing a Moxon vise, the crucial step is to drill the holes for the threaded rods and screws. This process requires accuracy and attention to detail, as the alignment of the holes will affect the functionality and effectiveness of the vise. If you can, use a drill press to ensure the holes are straight and evenly spaced.
How to Build a DIY Moxon Vise
Step 1: Cut the Jaws
When making a Moxon vise, the first step is to make the jaws. Start by cutting 6 plywood pieces, with 3 pieces measuring 12mm x 100mm x 480mm for the front jaw and 3 pieces measuring 12mm x 100mm x 600mm for the back jaw.
You can use a circular saw straight-edge guide to make the cuts as I did, but a table saw would make the process much easier. Once the pieces are cut, glue them together and wait until the front and back jaws are fully dried before moving on to the next step.
If you want to add a decorative touch to your Moxon vise like I did, you can create a herringbone pattern plywood layer for the front jaw. To make this pattern, cut several plywood strips and then cut them into 50mm pieces.
Arrange the pieces so that the edge of the plywood faces upward and glue them together in a herringbone pattern. To ensure a regular pattern, use a simple straight-edge jig with clamps to fix the pieces in position.
Wait until the panel is fully dried, and then cut off the edges to fit the front jaw.
What is a herringbone pattern?
A herringbone pattern is a decorative pattern that consists of a series of parallel lines that are arranged in a zigzag pattern. It is commonly used in woodworking and flooring to create a visually appealing effect. The name “herringbone” comes from its resemblance to the bones of a herring fish.
After the herringbone panel is fully dried, it needs to be flattened to achieve a smooth surface. This can be done using a router flattening jig or a thickness planer. Cut it to size and then glue it onto the front jaw of the vise.
Step 2: Drill Holes for the Threaded Rod
Align the front jaw with the back jaw, and use a square and a marking gauge to mark the positions of the holes. It’s best to mark the holes either from the bottom of the jaw or the top so that the holes are perfectly aligned.
Next, use a drill press stand to drill the holes in the back and front jaws. After that, use a chisel to clean out the remaining material from the front jaw to create an oval shape. This oval shape will allow you to tighten pieces in the vise at an angle.
Step 3: Prepare the Jaws for the Screws
Put the threaded rod through the hole in the back jaw and mount a nut on the rod. Use the nut as a reference to mark a hexagon shape on the jaw and use a chisel to cut it out. Make sure the nut fits cleanly in the hole.
After that, cut out a square on each side of the back jaw. These cutouts will be used to clamp the Moxon vise to the workbench.
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Step 4: Make the Vise Spindle
To create the vise spindle, preferably use a solid piece of wood (40x40x40mm). I did not have one so I had to cut and glue several pieces of wood together.
Then, mark the center of the wood piece and drill a 10mm hole for the threaded rod. The depth of the cut should be around 20mm. Rotate the piece and drill an 8mm hole through for the steel handle. Sand the edges to ensure a smooth finish.
Next, apply epoxy on the threaded rod and insert it into the drilled hole (10mm). Allow the epoxy to fully cure before inserting the 8mm steel rod (handle). Optionally, you can add protective wooden caps on the ends of the rod.
TIP: Optionally, you can apply epoxy to fix the steel rod in position
Step 5: Finish the Front Jaw
To finish the front jaw, round the edges of the plywood and apply a coat of varnish or other protective finish to enhance the herringbone pattern’s aesthetic appeal and add an additional layer of protection.
I am using spray adhesive which not only adds protection to the surface but also leaves a glossy finish once it dries. (Yes, spray adhesive. It may sound weird, but it does the job)
Step 6: Assemble the Moxon Vise
To assemble the Moxon vise, begin by inserting the nuts into the holes in the back jaws. Next, take the spindles and insert them through the holes in the front jaw and screw them into the nuts in the back jaws to tighten both the front and back jaws together. This will create the clamping mechanism of the vise. Make sure to tighten the spindles firmly to secure the workpiece in place.
This is what the finished Moxon vise looks like
How to Use a Moxon Vise
Using a Moxon vise is simple and it can be a great help in the workshop. Follow these steps to set up and use a Moxon vise:
- Place the Moxon vise on a workbench and use hold-down clamps to securely fix it in position.
- Open the jaws using the spindles.
- Insert the workpiece and tighten it in the jaws. Make sure it is securely fixed but don’t overtighten the vise as it may cause damage to the workpiece and the vise.
- Depending on where you place the workpiece in the vise, you may need a counter piece to ensure it is well secured and the vise is not skewed.
NOTE: When tightening the workpiece in the Moxon vise, depending on its size and shape, it may need a counter piece to ensure that it is well secured and the vise is not skewed. This can be achieved by using additional wooden blocks or clamps to provide support and keep the workpiece in place.
In conclusion, building a DIY Moxon vise can be an affordable and rewarding woodworking project that provides a versatile tool for any workshop. With readily available materials and a relatively simple construction process, even those with limited experience can successfully complete this project in a weekend.
The ability to customize the vise to fit specific needs and preferences, as well as the option to use pre-made cast wheels, make it a worthwhile addition to any woodworking setup. Overall, a DIY Moxon vise is a must-have tool that can enhance the quality and precision of any woodworking project.