The Main Vise

My main vise, aside from all the little ones.

A Wilton Rapid Action Vise, #79A, their big one, with a front jaw that pivots 12° to accommodate irregularly shaped pieces, and a front jaw that moves vertically 9/16" to act as a full-width dog. The back face of the vise is buried in the bench under wood; the front face is wood screwed to the metal vise face. The Rapid Action part: 2 spins of the handle counter clockwise, and the vise can be pulled open or pushed closed to it's full extension.

Showing the vise face raised, and the dogs raised.

The Dogs are brass, and have cushions that slip over the ends to prevent marring work, though I hold frames in a slightly different manner.

Photo showing a molding being held.

I use a piece of plywood as a wide dog, held by the brass dogs, and caught between the raised face of the vise. This keeps the frame flat, so it can be clamped at the opposite end. I work on frames that are assembled, and with this method I can carve a complete corner, and well towards two other corners.

Carving tools, files, rifflers are in a cabinet and racks just to the right of where I stand, at the far corner of the vise, though I do move around, quite a bit.

I designed and built this bench with this vise in mind. A good source of ideas and info on benches is "The Workbench Book" by Scott Landis. There are many different methods of holding work; my way being just one of many. One aspect of bench construction that is very important is the surface height; mine is 39 inches, which allows me, as someone who might hit 5'9" on a very good day, 5'8" mostly, to be able to work standing straight. Good for the back. A traditional wood working bench, where a lot of hand planing is involved, might be as much as 3-4 inches lower, so more force can be applied to the plane. I do far more carving, etc. etc., than planing, so I have a high bench.

Next post I'll explain how I hold stick stock, for planing and shaping.