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I am greatly in need of a workbench. Currently, I have cabinets in my garage which are being used as my workbench. Unfortunately, between the benchtop drill press and small lathe and other various tools and jigs, I have no actual work space left. Plain and simple, I need a real workbench. I'm going to build it, obviously, and plan to include a few built-in vices. Unfortunately, that's where my current vice plans end. The base/frame will be cheap construction grade pine. The top however is likely to be hard maple. I'm thinking 2" thick is heavy enough to remain stable while working, right?

On to the real questions. What kind of vices do you use the most? Are front vices far more useful than leg vices? Would it be worth drilling dog holes to accompany a vice so to not be restricted by material width? Basically, if you could rebuild your workbench, what vices would you have?

Most of what I do is small. Jewelry boxes, ornaments, and small toys are the most common items right now. Down the road, I plan to build some models and small furniture items like end tables. FYI, I tend to prefer overbuilding things rather than building just enough for what I need. If you know you need one, you really need three.

Thanks in advance.
 

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No one can honestly tell you that a leg vise works better than any other kind. If you are building a showpiece bench, use a leg vise. Otherwise, a quick release vise with a pop-up dog, and suitable wooden faces for what you are working on, will hold your workpiece as securely as anything else, and be quick and easy to use.

I can't say whether I use the front vise, or tail vise more. I wouldn't want to be without either.
 

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A good number of bench thread builds on the site. Many have used Southern Yellow Pine for the frame and the top.

I think 2in thick hard maple should be more than sufficient.

I have a front vise. The Large version from Lee Valley.

http://www.leevalley.com/US/Wood/page.aspx?p=31137&cat=1,41659,41661&ap=1

I find this very useful. I made the jaws 1 1/2in thick with the intention of eventually drilling 3/4in holes for bench dogs. I finally got around to doing so when I saw these inexpensive bench dogs from Kreg. The plastic is not heavy duty but fits my needs for use in the vise.

http://www.woodcraft.com/Product/2084048/36688/KREG-4-Piece-Bench-Dogs-Kreg-KKS1070.aspx

I wanted to be able to hold a piece between the jaws for sanding or planing without the piece slipping in the jaws. Having the workpiece on top of the jaws is working for me.

I do not presently have a workbench with dog holes.

Jaws_vise_2270.jpg
 

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a quick release vise with a pop-up dog, and suitable wooden faces for what you are working on, will hold your workpiece as securely as anything else, and be quick and easy to use.
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Ditto on the Quick Release. After using one going back to the screw is like going from a automatic tranny back to 3 on the tree.
 

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A good number of bench thread builds on the site. Many have used Southern Yellow Pine for the frame and the top.

I think 2in thick hard maple should be more than sufficient.

I have a front vise. The Large version from Lee Valley.

http://www.leevalley.com/US/Wood/page.aspx?p=31137&cat=1,41659,41661&ap=1


View attachment 89070
I have two of these vises, one bought at woodcraft (paid $100) and one from grizzly(paid $52). They are identical, but grizzly has the best price. Im pretty happy with them, using one as a front vise and one on the tail.

http://www.grizzly.com/products/H7788
 

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A heavy top on an inexpensive frame is fine - especially 2 inch thick - but it will still need to be tied down or secured to a wall to prevent it from rocking when you're applying side way pressure.

As for workbench vices - face vise and end are both very useful... depending on what you are trying to accomplish. Considering you are going to be making boxes, toys and end tables, consider T-tracks for your bench. That's what I did and instead of an expensive end vice, I use pipe clamps... they work great. It's a rather long thread but it might be worth your trouble to check out my bench. Here is the link

http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f2/versatile-small-shop-work-bench-unique-40361/
I did upgrade the bench to make it height adjustable.
 

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No one can honestly tell you that a leg vise works better than any other kind. If you are building a showpiece bench, use a leg vise. Otherwise, a quick release vise with a pop-up dog, and suitable wooden faces for what you are working on, will hold your workpiece as securely as anything else, and be quick and easy to use.
Ditto on the Quick Release. After using one going back to the screw is like going from a automatic tranny back to 3 on the tree.
If I were building from scratch, I might consider going with a quick-release vise, but I'd have to think about it. I love my leg vise. For my purposes, it works better than any modern vise I've ever used. The screw is huge -- 1.25" across and 18" long -- and is cut to about three threads per inch. It probably takes less than 30 seconds, maybe less than 20, to bring the chop out to full extension (which gives me about 15" of capacity), and going back in is usually faster. I can clamp a 3' long board vertically over basically its entire length, which means it just won't move. I've got 8" of capacity above the screw, which makes clamping wide boards for edge planing really simple. For that, I drilled some holes in the right front leg so I an either stick a peg in or use a holdfast to clamp down the end of the board. Anything wider than about 12" can either stick up further or be put to the right of the vise.

Now... Tom King says "No one can honestly tell you that a leg vise works better than any other kind." Despite my liking for the one I have, I'll agree with that. But I'd modify it to say "No one can honestly tell you that any type of vise always works better than any other kind." For me, the benefits of my vise (clamping capacity, versatility, and so on) outweigh the somewhat slow (compared to a quick release) screw. You might disagree. But the fact remains that a leg vise IS a practical vise, and has is good as more than just a show piece.

As to an end vise... I've considered adding a wagon vise to either the bench I have or the next one I build. I've yet to encounter a situation where I actually needed it, but there've been a few times when it would have been convenient.
 
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