Bench vise orientation

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14 May 2022
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I'm planning out my bench and all photos I see of benches and their vices, (from my feeling) are the wrong way around...

Like in the image below, to cut a piece of wood in the vice level. It has to project out into the open air, on the left-hand side. If on the right-hand side the bench gets' in the way of your sawing. I am right-handed and prefer to have the cutting line on my side and the waste side away from me. Why are most bences having their vices the other way around?

What am I missing.

That face vise is predominantly to hold work for planing, not for sawing.

In any event, I suspect the issue is not so much being right-handed, but being right eye dominant (as most right handers are). This causes one to have an issue with parallax when sawing to the left side of the line. Practice sawing on the left. After a while it becomes easier.

Regards from Perth

I agree with @Derek Cohen (Perth Oz). The vice position is more about planing than sawing.

Personally I'd rather use a bench hook for sawing as it supports the cut better and can be sacrificial (you can cut into the hook to avoid blowout in the piece being cut).

However, the joy of making a bench is you can make it your own way. If you want the vice on the right do it! If you change your mind you can move it to the other side later.

I've also seen benches with vice cut outs so the vice can be swapped from one side to the other easily.

I think the best bench is one that develops with you. That evolves as your craft develops.
I am right handed and my bench is set up as the picture. If I want to cut a long board in the vice with a handsaw I can support the piece being cut off with my left hand and still cut. Most sawing with a bench hook it doesnt matter where the vice is although some people clamp the bench hook in position. Virtually all my planing is left to right so vice is in the right position.
There is no reason why you cant have a vice at each end of the bench. I used one once with a QR record vice at the left and a removable leg vice at the right end. Second vice can be useful for holding long pieces
The front 200mm of your bench is traditionally where you would put stuff against a stop to plane it. If the vice was on the right it would stop you getting close enough the bench when doing this operation.

For sawing on a bench usually the first apprentice piece would be to make a couple of bench hooks.
In the unlikely event that your bench will be in the middle of the room same as the photo then and if you can access from both sides then a vice (on each side) in the left and right hand side will sort it.
Consider will you be predominately sawing or planing if sawing then like me right hand side is best if planing and not much sawing then the left.
If you can easily get to the right hand side of the bench there is nothing to stop you planing from the right.
So I suppose I am a righty
Just because its more natural to me; I can see the cut (ting) line and follow it.
Plus for e.g If I needed to cut say a 2x4 perched on a sawhorse or two I would cut it from the r/h side, perhaps if I were left handed I would do it on the other end.
If I was using a bench hook (on a bench) I would put it on the r/h side of the bench. A mitre block in a vice positioned anywhere
Nothing scientific about this its just what suits me.
However I can see that the left hand position does make it easier to hold the offcut and avoid tearout on the last few mm
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Across the grain and It’s on a bench hook, with the grain and it’s held down by my knee on an 18” High Sawhorse. The name is a bit of a giveaway.
I know some people stand the wood up in the vice but it looks difficult and awkward to me.
I definitely say do what you think is right for you when you situate your vise & don’t worry about the “norm”
When I built my bench years ago I didn’t want a vise on the right hand end as it would be in the way when I was cutting timber to length & received some flack when I suggested putting a full width vise on the left hand end


I‘m so glad I went down this route as it has been so useful not only utilising it as a planing stop but for holding timber to the bench & I’m definitely glad I didn’t listen to the nar-sayers as it works for me which is the most important thing.
The first bench I ever made has the vice installed on the right hand side. It was a remake of one of the ones we had at college. Being right handed, I discovered very early on that the vice got in the way of my hips when I was using it to hold wood whilst planing. However it never proved inconvenient enough for me to alter it. And, it is still my main bench 40 odd years later.
Plus one for a full width vice on the end. Clap an L shape in it away from the bench front and you have a crotch. Clamp it flush to the front and above the bench top and you have two supporting sides for all sorts of uses (I won't list them, it takes too long). Clamp a hand screw in and have a way of holding pieces that are longer than the bench for planing (did this for the sides of the bed I made for no.2 son). Also useful if you are gluing up something that is too long for all of your clamps (multiple ways to do this as well).
Granted, my bench is in the middle of my shop, rather than against a wall.