Bench design with woodworking and engineer's vices (vises)

OK, so I've been using an old kitchen unit (from our first house), with a sheet of hardboard screwed to the top, for a bench for 30 years: it's about time I permitted myself a "proper" one. I'm looking forward to making it: laminated top, proper woodworking vice (vise) on the front, flush to the top, holes for dogs, cabinet underneath with drawers instead of the wretched plastic drawers this kitchen unit has ...
Wait, though: although I do a lot of woodworking I am the house maintenance man. My current bench thing has a 4" engineer's vice (like this
http://www.screwfix.com/sfd/i/cat/09/p1123109_m.jpg ) and I use it a lot, for holding metal things while I file, cut or hit them, for holding pipes while I make capillary joints, for squashing metal things flat, and a million other things.
So the question. If I make myself a proper bench, with woodworker's vices (vises) at the front and at one end (with dogs), and maybe a tool tray at the back ... where's the best place to put my engineer's vice so I can still use it, but so it doesn't get in the way of the woodworking space?
Best plan I can think of is about 2/3 of the way back at the left-hand end of the bench, or maybe ditto at the right hand end. That way it won't be in the way too much but still has enough space round it for filing and cutting or whatever. Has anyone else solved this problem?
--

Henry Law Manchester, England

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Sir:
May I suggest the option I have?
I mounted my engineer's vice (machinist's vise here in the Colonies) on a short piece of 2x6, with another piece glued and bolted vertically beneath it. It makes a T when looked at sideways.
When I need the machinist vise, I clamp the bottom of the T in the woodworker's vice, and have at it. When I'm done, I remove it and hang it on a bracket on the side of my bench.
Two advantages: It's out of the way when not in use, and I like the vista of an empty bench, AND I get a short aerobic workout each time I lift it into operating position.
And, as a bonus, I accidentally mounted it so that when the jaws are turned, I can clamp a pipe vertically in the jaws and it clears vise jaws and base and can extend to the floor.
Can't do that on a bench mount.
Old Guy

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I'm not the OP, but thanks for this solution. I've been puzzling over the same thing for the bench I hope I'll have one of these days.
To the OP, my "bench" sounds pretty much like yours. I got it free from a friend, and hesitated a long time before putting it into my garage, for fear that once it got there I'd end up using it for the rest of my life. That might still happen, the way things go, but if I ever get a real bench in there I'll use this suggestion.
Best regards, Tom Dacon

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

"Old Guy" and others replied as above and I agree that this is a good thing to set up. One additional wrinkle is, that if you construct the T piece with some fore-thought, you can also use it in a "Work-Mate". Work-mates are really handy. I have one and I always keep my eye out when driving by yard sales to try to get another one cheaply.
Bill Leonhardt
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Old Guy and others suggested the use of a "t block" like set-up to clamp the machinists vise in your woodworking vise. This may sound obvious, but this is a good feature to clamp that vise in a Work-Mate as well. I find my old series 200 Work-Mate very handy and I'm on the lookout at yard sales for a second one.
Bill Leonhardt
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I like the previous post about making a vise base to clamp in your other vise. One solution I had rigged for a while was to drill 4 holes in my existing benchtop (could be dog holes), where I could run bolts with fender washers through the vise and benchtop, where they could screw into T-nuts (though the t-nuts wouldn't work with dog holes). In general, I'd highly recommend getting a workbench book (I've read and enjoyed both Landis's and Schleining's versions). Lots of photos and ideas I wouldn't have thought of otherwise. Good luck and have fun with your new bench, Andy
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Andy wrote:

Andy, thanks for this suggestion. I too like the idea from "Old Guy" (wonder if he's older than me, though :-) about the T piece. In fact, like all the best ideas, I can take bits from both of these to fit my circumstances more closely. The vice/vise I have is mounted on a base which allows it to rotate, to which it's secured by bolts with handles you can undo easily to loosen and tighten it. I'm thinking (need to work it out on paper) that I could recess this base flush to the surface of the bench and leave it there, and then drop the vice itself onto the base and screw it in when I need it.
Anyway, whatever the outcome, thanks for the replies. I'm not a regular here but I could be from now on - looks like a good community.
--

Henry Law Manchester, England

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Put the engineer's vise on a block of wood that you can clamp in the woodworking vise.
--
Often wrong, never in doubt.

Larry Wasserman - Baltimore Maryland - lwasserm(a)sdf. lonestar. org
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Depending on the amount of room you have in the shop, consider mounting the vise on a heavy duty base, separate from the bench. The "T" clamping idea sounds good, but I wouldn't want to pound on it since I'd be transferring energy to the woodworking vise. Us blacksmiths use post vises which lend themselves to such separate supporting although they are often clamped to the front of a bench. They all have a "leg that extends all the way to the floor and are designed for hammering on big time. The jaws, however, are not quite paralled, since the movable jaw pivots from several inche below the top of the jaws. If you are interested at all in this approach, you can email me off-list and I can give you more detail. Actually, I have just moved into my new woodshop and am looking for a bench. The style you are getting rid of is just what I am looking for, I think. (But I live in western Wisconsin)
Pete Stanaitis -------------------------
Henry Law wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
The weight is (mechanics vice mounting plate) on the bench. The ww vice is used just for maintaning position. I have an adjustable angle plywood mount so I can scissor the mechanics vice mounting plate at any angle, including flat.
.... but I wouldn't want to pound on it since I'd

-
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I made a bench from a desk. Drilled 3/4" holes spaced about 6" apart both front to back and side to side (just a paddle bit). With 3/4" dowel, 2x4", 3/4" plywood, 1/4-20 threaded rod, nuts, washers, pipe clamps, "furniture nuts?"(the cylinders with a tapped hole through it). I made hold downs, wonder dogs, stop dogs, and edge (clamping) guides. I made the entire front face a plywood jaw woodworking vice. I cut 4 pieces of 3/4" plywood 6" wide ( 3", 6", 6", 7" - totally guessing), and with door hinges, machined slots, and permanently screwed to my swivel mechanics vice to them. So I can put the mechanics vice along the front edge, clamping to the top with a bolt/nut/washer, and clamping also with the ww vice, or anywhere on the top with through the 3/4" holes and bolt/nut/washers only. So the mechanics vice will sit flat on the bench, or at any angle, and anywhere on the bench, but most importantly, it can be removed from the bench when I want it all to myself.
_ _ _ _ to _ /\_ with the vice screwed to the second bar. Pieces 2 and 3 equal lengths - scissor.
-
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
for the wonder dogs, I have the threaded rods cut at about 6" long, and just have 2 nuts tightened to one another at the driving end, and I used a flat bottomed 1/4" drill in some 1/2" x1/2" x 1/2" for clamping pads. These can be [ or { or ( or < or anything, everything in clamping, shape.
a 1-1/2" wide plywood with a 1/4" slot dowmn the center for a bolt threaded co-axially into the dowel can be mounted (also in pairs) straight, normal, or diagonally. The _| 2x4" and dowel holddowns are pounded into the holes of the bench down and are very tough |
dogs will be dogs
-
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
__i_i_______ |__________| | | | | ---
pound down on i with hammer.
Bit of angle, and chamfer clamp area to match
-
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

You can bolt the vice to a piece of 3/4 inch ply and clamp it to your woodworker's bench when needed. Or, you can build a separate mechanics bench. I don't recommend a tool tray--it gathers junk like an open sewer.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I insist on the tool tray
-
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

including bench dogs. It does get dirty quickly though. Depending on what you are doing on the bench, it can quckly fill up with sawdust, shavings or whatever. Even an odd tool or piece of hardware shows up in the tool tray.
On my bench, I have a tool shelf about 8" high just below the bench top. It is the full length and width of the bench. This is incredibly handy. I can just reah under the bench and grab a drill, plane, etc.
I also have a cheapy RTA tool stand close by. It is about 14" square. I use this for tools, drawings, etc. It is small and light enough to move around. The more stuff you can get off of that bench top, the more space you have to work.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

My solution was at one end, near the back corner. But this end of my bench is away from the wall, so readily accessible. Used wing nuts on the underside of the bench so that metalworking vise is readily removable when I need all of the flat surface.
Another solution I have seen is to mount the metalworking vise to a piece of plywood, with a cleat that can be held in your front vise of the bench.
--
Alex -- Replace "nospam" with "mail" to reply by email. Checked infrequently.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.