So I’ve received and devoured Chris Schwarz’s Workbenches book. I am pleased to find that I have thought so thoroughly about my bench that I have only had to make a few minor mental adjustments to my plans.

I’ve also been following with great interest the thickening plot regarding Schwarz’s Moxonization of his Roubo. It started with him piercing his crochet (ouch!). Where will it end?

As I’ve surfed the web trying to see where Chris is going with this, since it may influence my own plans, I’ve stumbled across a couple of others who are already there. Stephen Shepherd shows Moxon’s twin-screw vise and its excellent potential for dovetailing. Others have chimed in on this discussion; Gary Roberts has provided some linkage so you can follow who’s saying what. In short, this vise appears to be a bench accessory rather than an integral part of the bench. You can have it mounted to the front of the bench (but no one seems to know how that was done); alternatively, you can remove the whole assembly, clamp the rear jaw to the bench top and work a bit higher.

Since I enjoy dovetailing and plan to do a lot of it, I had already been thinking of making some sort of benchtop dovetail station. Moxon’s arrangement seems to meet my requirements: something higher than the 33″ benchtop; excellent clamping surface; easily removable. I might even tap the front of the workbench itself so I would have the option of screwing the front jaw directly onto the workbench. I suppose that would help for planing long boards on edge; I wouldn’t even really need to have the vise exert much pressure on the board as it would be simply sitting on the screws.

I’m not sure where I’d mount the vise at this point (if I tapped holes in the front of the bench), or how wide the jaws should be. In the engravings and drawings, the vise is located on the right front of the bench, but that could get in the way of my wagon vise. I’m considering centering it on my bench. And as to width, what’s the widest you would need for dovetailing – 24″?

Of course, all this talk of proper size of the vise is only necessary if you’re mounting it on the front of the bench. If you are merely clamping it to the benchtop, you can have a vise of any width. If the current one is too big or too small, you can just tap a couple of new holes in a new piece of wood, drill a couple of holes in what would be the front jaw, and you’re in business! If I end up doing this, I think I will also insert dowels into the base of the rear jaw which would tenon into the dog holes to support the vise, perhaps even rendering a clamp or holdfast unnecessary.

My apologies for the abundance of text with the absence of graphics. I don’t want to infringe on anyone’s copyright by showing Moxon’s stuff here, and I can’t run Sketchup on my computer (Linux) so I just have to hope that my descriptions work well with the pictures shown on the links above!