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Flush vice or not?

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David Martin

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So I'm about to start building a new workbench and trying to decide on a few details (code for "there may be more calls for opinions/advice coming). I'm looking at face vices and favouring a record (52/53) or a modern equivalent depending on what's available in the used market. I'm pondering some details and wondered if you kind people might have any words of advice...

1. Mounting with rear face flushed with bench side or fixed onto the side. Advantage of the first is that clamping along the bench side can be achieved but I wondered if there's any advantages to fixing straight onto the side?
2. If I flush mount, should I offset deeper into the bench side than the thickness of the rear face? Seems I'll need to do this to allow for a liner on the face.
3. What's the best material for face liners? The bench will be a largely 2x4 softwood construction (can't afford the luxury of hardwood), with laminated top, legs, stretchers etc. I can probably stretch to some nicer material for the vice jaws but not sure it's useful or even advisable?

Thanks in advance for your wisdom

Dave
 

Steve Maskery

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I used to have my vice proud of the front. It did enable me to slip auxilliary jaws over when I used a router mortice jig.
But I've just built a new bench and the legs, top and bottom rail are all in the same plane, on the sage advice of Chris Schwartz, and the advantages are clear from the very start.
Follow my build here.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Lwcq2A2X-U&t=1s
S
 

David Martin

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Thanks for the input Steve. I'm already starting to watch your workbench build series and part one has also answered my second question! Looking forward to seeing your process and the end result.

Due to limitations in my garage I'm considering a knock-down construction but still need something solid and long lasting. Seriously considering the 'Portable Moravian Workbench' style which I've seen. It looks sturdy and has some joinery I've never used before (the sloped tusked tenon for the long stretchers). I'm also lookiing at using Vths but might consider unsorted for the top. Unfortunately with lockdown I can't select my own timber so may end up paying a premium for better grade so as to avoid too many twisted and dog-legged pieces.
 

Bm101

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Only repeating what I've heard but a brand new vise wont be as good as an old one. Production values dropped over the years. I believe a 52 1/2 quick release is the weapon of choice for many but any older vise made by paramount record etc will work. I have a late record with no qr. And its great really. If I was making furniture for a job I'd go for the quick release. Obviously is better to have it. Heres a compendium of vises:
evolution-of-the-record-52-1-2-quick-release-vice-t106895.htmlhilit=Vices
How you fit it is a personal choice I suppose. Mine is flush fitted because that makes more sense to my tiny brain. Then again I put it on the wrong side of my bench for most people but it works for me like that.
Cheers, good luck
Chris
 

David Martin

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My thoughts exactly. The vintage record vices (52 1/2 and 53) seem to be the 'gold standard', but they're somewhat hard to come by these days.
 

thomashenry

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I built the Paul Sellers bench and have a non flush vice. I have never regretted it or ever wished the vice was flush.
 

David Martin

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Big fan of Paul Sellers who has taught me an AWFUL lot! I started with the idea of following his well known bench series but realised I could really use a knock-down bench.

As for his non-flush vice, I seem to recall him giving his reasons for it at some point, but I can't recall what they were.
 

thomashenry

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David Martin":2lqj87dy said:
Big fan of Paul Sellers who has taught me an AWFUL lot! I started with the idea of following his well known bench series but realised I could really use a knock-down bench.

As for his non-flush vice, I seem to recall him giving his reasons for it at some point, but I can't recall what they were.
The Paul Sellers bench is a knockdown, more or less! I've dissassembled/reassasembled mine several times now, takes less than 10 mins. In fact, the ability to easily knock it down was one of the reasons I chose the design.
 

Orraloon

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Mounting flush is good for long boards that need support further along the bench. Takes a bit more work mounting the vice. Another of those things that depends on the work you want to do on your bench. Over the years I have had both but prefer the vice mounted flush.
Regards
John
 

AndyT

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It really is a matter of preference.
I'd say the answers to your questions are
1. Flush
2. Yes, set back to allow for a liner
3. Rear liner can be softwood or hardwood. Front liner should be hardwood, twice the length of the jaw, so you can hold pieces vertically eg for dovetailing.

That's what suits me and I take comfort that many others agree.

Then I watch Paul Sellers with his vice not flush and not extended and admire the quality of his work.

But it's too late for me to adjust my brain and make crosscuts by slanting the piece in the vice like he does. He argues that the non flush rear jaw lets him hold the wood with one hand while tightening the vice with the other, and have a space behind the wood so his fingers don't get crushed. Fair play, but I seem to be managing ok so far.
 

MikeG.

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David Martin":3p2f556p said:
Big fan of Paul Sellers who has taught me an AWFUL lot! I started with the idea of following his well known bench series but realised I could really use a knock-down bench.

As for his non-flush vice, I seem to recall him giving his reasons for it at some point, but I can't recall what they were.
Because for some reason known only to him he chooses to hold work in a long clamp and then hold the clamp in a vise. Bizarre behaviour, which shouldn't be encouraged.

As to the OP's question........no, keep it flush unless you've got a damn good reason not to. Just mentally plane the edge of a 5 foot long board in a vice which isn't flush. You've just given yourself a whole heap of unnecessary difficulties. The one and only downside of a flush inner jaw that I can think of is that when the edge gets worn out you either have to replace the whole apron, or you have to cut in an insert piece. If you are building from scratch, then building it with a replaceable insert would seem like a sensible approach.
 

Doingupthehouse

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I had the same conversation here when I built my bench a while back. I was persuaded by the good folks on here to go with a flush fit. I can honestly say, that was the correct decision, as it’s so easy to hold long workpieces etc. I also fitted the rear liner by using machine screws screwed into threaded inserts, so I could always change to a non-flush vice just by fitting a thicker rear liner - or fit accessory jaws if needed.



Simon
 

Phil Pascoe

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Flush. Inset rear liner. It's easy - if you have a vice flush and need the work away from the front of the bench, you can pack it off. If you have the rear of the vice outboard of the front (apron, which I haven't got) and you need the work held in tight to the bench, it can't be.
 

That would work

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Not flush for me, and have been for a long time.
While you could say that the whole apron acts as a long jaw I never found that it added any appreciable added grip. Holding a long board is simply carried out by supporting it on a series of holes for a peg in the apron/leg which you may well end up doing anyway. A 5 or six foot board can easily be planed just held in the vice. I'm with P.S. when he says it's easier to be able to hold work on both sides as you position it. Also I like to keep the vice jaws in nice condition which is easier if one jaw is not the whole bench. It also means that you are able to hold a sash cramp in the vice which does add a further useful holding technique.
At the end of the day, it's swings, roundabouts and personal preferences though.
 

MikeG.

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That would work":2oengk8w said:
.......Holding a long board is simply carried out by supporting it on a series of holes for a peg in the apron/leg which you may well end up doing anyway. A 5 or six foot board can easily be planed just held in the vice..........
Each to their own, of course, but the counter-argument to this (above) is that with a flush vice the back end of a long board is easily clamped to the edge of the bench, whereas with your arrangement it is flapping around in mid-air. I'm working on longish boards constantly, and not being able to clamp to the bench, or even just push against the bench, would drive me nuts.
 

That would work

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Ye that is one of the swings/roundabouts. I make my bench hooks so they protrude from the front edge by the same amount as my back jaw is thick. So I pop that into the gap in those circumstances.
 

MikeG.

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That would work":35xn8f3z said:
Ye that is one of the swings/roundabouts. I make my bench hooks so they protrude from the front edge by the same amount as my back jaw is thick. So I pop that into the gap in those circumstances.
Now that's a good idea. =D>
 

David Martin

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Thank you all so much for the ideas and experiences! I think I've made a few decisions...

1. Definitely a flush vice mount. As was pointed out, this can be converted to non-flush with a simple spacer (but the opposite can't be converted). A replaceable liner seems perfect and I like the idea of using threaded inserts and machine screws for mounting this.

2. I'm reconsidering my idea of the 'Portable Moravian' in favour of the PS since Thomas reminded me that the PS is a knock-down (although I'll have to revisit the video series for this).

3. I will probably still add long stretchers front and back since I really want to try my hand at those tusked tenons and it gives me the option for a sliding deadman and also some easily removable shelving underneath. The latter also removes the need for aprons which I prefer as I often sit at the bench and require the knee room.

Time to get some plans drawn up and a cutting list prepared. Then I can wrestle with the problem of sourcing decent affordable timber with lockdown stopping me from selecting my own pieces.
 

xraymtb

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I’m in the process of building my new bench as well (the old one is something of a mongrel and better suited to a bonfire than woodwork!!). I went for flush mounted by chopping a substantial mortise for the vice into the bench top. So far I’m only using it for light work whilst I finish building the frame but no regrets.
 
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