Bear with me. It’ll make sense eventually.

I’ve got two vise screws. One was generously donated by a “homeboy” from the Porch, Bill Taggart, when I visited his place a couple few years ago. The other was a $10 eBay purchase. I’m trying to decide which one to use in my leg vise. Allow me to present the two candidates, and then leave your verdict in the comments below.

Candidate A is a standard metal vise screw. I dunno, looks like about an inch or so thick, and the screw itself is about 12″ long. The nut might look a little odd to you because it was originally on a plate that was intended to mount to the underside of the bench. Bill Taggart hacksawed it off for me since I was going to mount it into the leg instead. I figured I’d just drill a hole in the leg to receive the nut, and then do a little chiseling to make room for the plate remnant.

Pros: Metal is strong. I shouldn’t have any problems with vise strength.
Cons: The screw is pretty short. Taking into account a 6″ leg and a 2″ jaw, I’ll be limited to clamping stock that is not much more than 4″ thick. I suppose I could bury the nut inside the leg during the glueup, which would give me an additional 4″ or so, but that would mean if I ever wanted to change vises I’d have to take an axe to the leg to hack the nut out, and then I’d have to build a new leg.

Candidate B is an old wooden bench screw (about 2″ thick) that I just couldn’t pass up for $10 on eBay. This thing is in rough shape. At first glance it might not look too bad:

But pick it up (gingerly, now!) and you see that this is a fixer-upper. First the nut. Outside – ugh. Nasty. But the inside is solid and the threads are in perfect condition:

The screw itself is in great shape. There are one or maybe two places where a small segment of thread is missing, but otherwise it’s solid. But the head of the screw…oh my:

Pros: The vise jaw would be able to open about 10″ or so. The threads are huge and in good shape, so the vise is theoretically very strong.
Cons: In order to keep the vise from shedding bits of wood anytime it’s handled, I’d have to plane/chisel/sand about 1/2″ or maybe more off of the surface of the screw head (I’d likely leave the nut as is). Would that affect in any way the integrity of the vise? There’d be very little shoulder to catch the jaw of the vise, but I suppose if the hole for the screw is exactly the right size, I wouldn’t need much of a shoulder, right?

I have now presented the two candidates. For which one would you cast your vote?

P.S. Oh yes. The title of this post. I was looking for a witty title so I went searching for quotes containing the word “vice”. The title above came from Thornton Wilder. Below, for your reading pleasure, are more quotes with the word “vice” that almost make sense with the word “vise”.

  • We do not despise all those who have vices, but we despise all those who have not a single virtue. – Francois Duc de la Rochefoucauld
  • Vices of the time; vices of the man. [Lat., Vitia temporis; vitia hominis.] – Francis Bacon
  • Times change. The vices of your age are stylish today. – Aristophanes
  • There is no vice so simple but assumes some mark of virtue on his outward parts. -William Shakespeare
  • Vices are often habits rather than passions. -Antoine Rivarol
  • Nurse one vice in your bosom. Give it the attention it deserves and let your virtues spring up modestly around it. Then you’ll have the miser who’s no liar; and the drunkard who’s the benefactor of the whole city. -Thornton Wilder
  • It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues. – Abraham Lincoln