Follow our Board Jack Plan and build your own portable board jack. The portable board jack is designed to hold work along the front edge of a workbench. The board jack works in conjunction with a face vise to hold long boards or panels for handplaning or other bench operations. The board jack is both versatile, portable and self-aligns to the workbench top. It attaches to the underside of any workbench top with a slab top. It is easily adaptable to a workbench top with a thickness between 1 1/2 inches to 3 1/2 inches.
The board jack is easily positioned along a workbench surface. The position depends on the length of board to be supported on edge. The board jack design originated from a need to clamp the opposite end of a board along its edge while handplaning. With a long board clamped in the face vise of a standard workbench, there is no support at the other end of the board. Unless your workbench is designed with a horizontal apron or skirt and dog holes, it is difficult to support the end of a long board along its edge. When not in use, the board jack is quickly and easily removed and stored beneath a workbench.
An alternative is to incorporate a sliding board jack beneath the edge of a workbench top. Although this is an option, it is necessary to design the workbench with this complex feature. The portable board jack is instead designed to attach to the underside of a slab type workbench without any modifications to the workbench. All that is necessary are at least two dog holes close to the front edge of the workbench. You will also be able to easily clamp long, wide panels along the front edge of a workbench using the portable board jack. The portable board jack is designed to be versatile. It can be placed anywhere along a workbench top where dog holes are accessible.
The portable board jack is attached to the workbench top using standard bolts. Quick-connect bolts allow the board jack to be quickly removed or installed, as well as attached to another area of the workbench. Several bench holding accessories can be used with the board jack including bench dogs and surface clamps.
Comprehensive information, board jack techniques, large photos and (16) detailed computer designed diagrams (CAD) included with the board jack plan purchase. Images and illustrations of attaching the portable board jack to a workbench are also included.
Board Jack Plan $14
Follow our Moxon vise plan and build your own portable Moxon twin-screw vise. The portable Moxon vise is designed to hold work above the standard height of a workbench. The Moxon vise design is widely attributed to a Joseph Moxon. Joseph Moxon (1627 – 1691), was the hydrographer to Charles II English printer specialising in mathematical books and maps. Moxon’s 17th century book The Art of Joinery first described the double-screw vise. In this historical publication the Moxon vise was documented – a double-screw held to a workbench top with clamps or holdfasts in order to facilitate certain work.
A regular bench height at 35-36 inches is optimized for handplaning operations. When performing fine sawing and other detail work, a higher work surface is preferred. An elevated height of the workpiece enables you to have a clearer view of the wood that is being sawn. Instead of having to stoop down to a workpiece on a regular height workbench, the Moxon vise raises the height of the workpiece to where it is comfortable to work on without strain. You will also be able to easily clamp long, wide panels to the side of a workbench using this vise. The Moxon vise is designed to be both versatile and portable. It can be placed anywhere on a workbench top where dog holes are accessible. When not in use, the Moxon vise can easily be stored upright against a wall.
A normal bench height is in the area of 35-36 inches. With the Moxon vise clamped on to the surface of the workbench, an increased height of 41 inches is achieved. The additional height is a game changer when performing detail work. This Moxon vise design also has a small table set up as an extension in the rear. The small table can be used for mallet work and to rest tools. This Moxon vise design is attached to the workbench top using holdfasts and dog holes. Holdfasts excel at quickly clamping down jigs and workpieces to a workbench surface. The Moxon vise has been adapted to allow for holdfasts to clamp it down as can be seen in these images. Alternative methods exist to clamp a Moxon vise to a workbench, but this is the quickest, cleanest and most unobtrusive method.
Although the hardware and holdfasts used in this Moxon vise build is off the shelf, the plan can be modified for your own hardware and your own holdfasts. Once you have an understanding of Moxon vise concepts, adapting the design to suit your specific work methods is entirely possible.
Comprehensive information, Moxon vise techniques and video, large photos and (14) detailed computer designed diagrams (CAD) included with the Moxon vise plan purchase. Images, video and illustrations of attaching the Moxon vise to a workbench are also included.
Moxon Vise Plan $14
The Moxon vise build continued and the vise was completed a couple of days after beginning the project. There was a considerable delay in determining the optimum length of the vise. This actually held me back since making it too short is essentially non-correctable later. Too long and there is a weight penalty as these Moxon vises tend to be heavy, especially with the Benchcrafted solid iron handwheels. Although the extra mass and weight can be your friend when clamping boards down, portability of the unit is also a consideration. I would need to determine the size of panels I most often worked with. In my work, I never go over about 20 inches in width so I set this as optimal distance between the screws. Then, using guidelines on screw hole placement provided in the Benchcrafted instructions, a final length of 28 inches was decided on. I did follow the suggested screw hole placement in the Benchcrafted instructions, this saved some time. Next was to mark the 3/4 inch screw holes and begin drilling, careful to have the holes in the front and rear jaws perfectly aligned.
Mortising for the captive nut in the rear jaw inside face was performed using bevel-edge and mortise chisels. Hard maple is well.. hard! In this case, the mortise chisels excelled at hogging out material from the 3/4 inch deep mortise. With a softer hardwood, lighter bevel-edge chisels would have been sufficient. I also oriented the nut so it would align well with the long edges of the rear jaw, mostly an aesthetic consideration.
After test-fitting the Benchcrafted hardware and ensuring it worked smoothly, the next step was to attach a large block of wood to the rear. This block of wood would both stabilize the vise assembly and allow holdfasts to be used to clamp the Moxon vise to the workbench top. Several other intermediate steps were performed, always careful to get alignments exactly correct. There is almost no room for error in making these vises since replacing either of the jaws is both time and material consuming. A more in-depth article on how I made this Moxon vise will be available at the web site soon.
A table extension and vertical support was then added after ensuring the stabilizer was effective at clamping down the Moxon vise to the workbench. The table allows me to extend horizontal boards for marking..i.e. dovetails. I customized the design to use an extra row of dog holes in the center area of my workbench. I have two of these workbenches set as my primary workbenches, so the Moxon vise will be completely portable between benches. The vise can also be located almost anywhere on the workbench surface as the holdfast locations are optimized to clamp the stabilizer block of wood at rear of the vise. I am using Gramercy holdfasts but any holdfasts can be set up for use with the vise.
More detail of the handwheel, screw, and captive nut can be seen above. The table is reinforced below both long edges for maximum support, this to allow for any mallet work. i.e. chopping out dovetails. A large design consideration was to not make the Moxon vise too heavy as I would often be removing it from the workbench top and/or moving it between workbenches. The table size was optimized for this vise and the type of work I do. When designing your own Moxon vise, you will need to determine the size of boards and panels you most often work with. The overall length of the Moxon vise is the most important consideration in its design, it is best to get it right the first time!
I am in the process of writing a more extensive article on this Moxon vise build and will publish it soon at the web site.
So I decided to build myself a Moxon vise over the holidays. Business slowed and I had the time to get going on this project. A Moxon vise was something on my mind for quite some time, it was simply a case of finding time to make it. Some time was spent on research to determine which version best suited my work methods. It is essentially a straightforward build, but critical to get it right to ensure the time and material investment is put to good use.
I’m not 100% sure of the origins of the Moxon vise design, but it is widely attributed to Joseph Moxon. Joseph Moxon (August 1627 – February 1691), hydrographer to Charles II English printer specialising in mathematical books and maps. Moxon’s 17th century book The Art of Joinery first described the double-screw vise. In this historical publication was documented the Moxon vise – a double-screw held to a workbench top with clamps or holdfasts in order to facilitate certain work.
The main criteria for me was to be able to hold work above the standard height of a workbench. Rather than piece together the hardware for the vise itself, I opted for the Benchcrafted Moxon Vise hardware kit as it includes everything mechanical. I would need to supply the wood and shape the vise jaws (chops). This would be for the basic vise. A more complex version with an additional work table behind the vise would involve several more steps. The overall length of the Moxon vise I decided on will be in the 28 to 32 in. range.
So after deliberating on the design, I simply went at it and worked on the front and rear jaws. Not having 8/4 stock available to me, I opted to laminate some 4/4 maple pieces instead. In the past, I have had success with the strength and stability of 4/4 boards laminated together. In selecting the boards, I mixed the grain orientations up so each of the laminated boards would counter the grain of the other board. This, in my opinion, balances out the internal stresses of the woods and keeps it all straight and stable. Laminating one of the jaws here with 4/4 boards. As they say, one never has enough clamps. In the pic above, this was almost the case, but it worked out. I do have other clamps, but for the most part, they are lighter.
To be continued…