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Workbenches – FineWoodworking

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Dovetail helper. With a secure grip and 24 in. between screws, the Lake Erie Toolworks Moxon vise can handle wide panels that need dovetails.

I believe Twin-screw vises are the best vise for a woodworking bench. They handle edge-planing with ease, excel at clamping boards and wide panels for dovetailing, and are perfect for planing drawers to fit. However, they are difficult to retrofit to an existing workbench. The perfect solution here is a Moxon-style vise. I’ve been using one made by Lake Erie Toolworks, and have been very happy with it. The vise consists of two jaws and two screws, and is clamped to the top of the bench. The screws are 24 in. apart and the jaws can be opened 4-1⁄2 in., so this vise can hold big boards and panels. Because the vise sits on top of the bench, it’s not well-suited for edge-planing furniture-size stock, but it’s perfect for cutting joinery. I found it very comfortable (and easy on my back) to have my workpiece several inches higher than normal, and when I was paring between tails and pins, the extra height allowed me to see layout lines more easily. The vise’s higher position also proved beneficial when working on small parts, such as planing the edges of small drawer sides and backs. Overall, it’s a great vise, and would be a wonderful aid to any woodworker whose bench has only a cast-iron (or similar) face vise, or a leg vise.

—Matt Kenney is the special projects editor, and co-host of FWW’s podcast, Shop Talk Live.

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