Installing a Quick Release End Vise

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After adding an inexpensive leg-vise and sliding deadman, I wanted to finish our Roubo-inspired workbench by adding a quick-release end vise. With the help of a pair of wood, plastic, or metal bench dogs the vise makes it possible to quickly secure boards to the top of the bench for hand planing and can be used to hold small boards for edge planing and other sawing tasks. The vise I used weighs just over 35 pounds, but luckily it separates into a few pieces which makes installing it fairly easy without having to flip one's workbench upside down.

Since the bench was also starting to get pretty heavy at this point, I thought that it might be a good idea to add another set of quick-release caster plates so that I could share the casters from our large outfeed table in case I needed to move it around the shop.

Step 1: Preparing Boards for the Jaws

The vise came with a nice wooden handle, but a pair of wooden jaws need to be built to match the workbench's depth and extend down roughly 3" below the bottom of its top. For my jaws, I used a 2" x 8" southern yellow pine board and marked off and cut two knot-free sections that were roughly 6" longer than the depth of my bench to account for any planer snipe. I then ran the boards through my jointer and planer to surface them before ripping them at the table saw to what will be their final height.

Step 2: Trimming Jaws to Final Width

After trimming off the snipe from one end of each board, I then marked off their final width and cut both together at the miter saw to ensure that they'd end up the same size.

Step 3: Attaching the Inner Jaw

To make attaching the inner jaw to the bench easier, I took it to the drill press and made a few counter-bored mounting holes about an inch and a quarter from the top. Then at the workbench, I secured the jaw to the end by running a clamp across the edge of it and the bench top since I didn't have a clamp long enough to run down the length of the top. And after aligning the jaw, I pre-drilled and temporarily attached it to the top.

Step 4: Disassembly the Vise Hardware

Before mounting the vise hardware, I went ahead and cleaned up some of the old oil and applied a new light coat to the screw and rods. Once that was done, I removed the bolts on the rear plate with an 8mm Allen wrench and then removed the vise front and rods.

I made sure to note which way the quick-release mechanism was oriented. (Note that it will also be flipped upside down when mounted.) I also marked the front face of the rear plate and the vise mount to avoid any confusion later when the parts are mounted.

Step 5: Mounting the Vise Plate

Back at the bench, I made a few marks on the bottom of the top to help position the vise in the center of the bench. Then, while holding the vise plate with its front face up against the back of the jaw, I marked the locations of the four outer mounting holes and pre-drilled each of them.

To mount the plate to the bench, I used four flat-head (HeadLOK) lag screws in the outer mounting holes, and then came back later and used four more 2" #14 wood screws on the inner holes.

Step 6: Drilling the Guide Rod Holes

Next, I used a 1" Forstner bit to mark the screw and guide rod locations on the back of the jaw. I then removed the inner jaw and took it over to the drill press to drill holes through both jaws using a 1-1/8" bit. Using a slightly larger bit leaves a little wiggle room to make sure the vise screw and rods won't bind on the jaw.

Step 7: Adding Dog Holes and Reattaching the Inner Jaw

While at the drill press, I also went ahead and drilled a 3/4" dog hole into the top of the outer jaw on both sides. (One day I'll likely add another row of dog holes along the back of the workbench for clamping larger panels.) Then I headed back over to the bench and reattached the inner jaw making sure the holes lined up with the vise plate.

Step 8: Mounting the Vise Handle Plate and Outer Jaw

After inserting the outer wooden jaw onto the screw and guide rods, I carefully inserted them into the vise while holding the quick-release mechanism in place. This probably would have taken a bit less time with a helper, but it's possible to balance the rods a little inside the jaw and then hold the quick-release mechanism open so that the outer jaw can be slid into the vise.

With that done, I reattached the rear plate and then lined up the outer jaw flush with the inner one and clamped it in place using the vise. To attach the handle plate to the outer jaw, I pre-drilled and used four 1-1/4" #14 screws.

Step 9: Finishing the End Vise

Finally, I sanded down the edges flush with the workbench and applied a coat of boiled linseed oil to the outside of the vise jaws. And after attaching the wooden handle, it was time for a few tests.

Step 10: Testing the Vise

To engage the quick-release mechanism in this vise, you simply turn the handle counter-clockwise a 1/4 to 1/2 a turn and then slide the outer jaw in or out. Once the handle is turned clockwise, it will re-engage the quick-release mechanism which makes it possible to clamp down a workpiece.

For securing boards along the top, I've found that the metal bench dogs work well in the bench as the top is thin enough to easily move them up from underneath. But since the outer jaw is quite tall, I found that using a short plastic bench dog there worked best.

Step 11: Adding Quick Release Caster Plates

To finish up with the workbench, I attached another set of quick-release caster plates which will let me share the same set of casters between this bench and my outfeed table whenever I need to move things around in the shop.

Step 12: The Completed Workbench

Well that will (finally) wrap up this series of articles for our hand-tool workbench! I've had the opportunity to use it for a few smaller projects, and so far it has come in incredibly useful. If you have any questions about the vise or bench be sure to leave a comment below!

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    3 Discussions

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    theMarvelousMarv

    Question 3 months ago

    First of all: Very nice demonstration! I got a question though. I'm planning to upgrade my Workbench. At the moment it is a wooden plate on two saw-bucks. I still want to use the plate because it's very large. I want to install a vise, too but the problem is that the plate is way thinner than the one on your workbench (about 1/3 of the thickness). Would it still be possible to install and use a vise or should i rather get another plate? Thank you very much!

    1 answer
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    AroundHometheMarvelousMarv

    Answer 3 months ago

    It's mostly a matter of the top being able to support the weight of the 35 pound vise. My bench top is roughly 3-1/4" thick (~82mm). So 1/3 of that might be a little thin. Depending on how you want to use the vise you could also get a smaller and lighter "front" vise and still mount it on the end.