Work bench vise

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I am considering building a new work bench and wanted to know what advantages there are to mounting a vise out side the legs vs. having the legs closer to the ends of the vise.
I plan to have the vise on the front of the bench vs. either end.
My current plans are for the bench to have a top 3" thick, 72" long and 27" deep made out of MDF. The legs and lower support structure will be constructed of demensional lumber.
Any thoughts?
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Leon wrote:

I think a vise is usually mounted on the corner because: a) it's out of the way of stuff on the bench, and b) it's easier to fiddle with stuff that might need to go down in two dimensions (a chair or table leg still attached to the table or chair).
For those that don't use a vise much, I've seen them bolted to a 2x6 which is then clamped to the workbench when needed.
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I saw this on a bench once. He mounted his vise so that the leg was just to the right of the guides in the botto, of the vise. That way the leg lined up with anything that was put in the vise vertically. He has a filler peice of wood under the bench. If he wanted to put anything vertical in the vise, he would first close the vise gently on it while putting in the filler block underneath. He then would clamp the stockk to the leg. He considered that leg to be an extension of the vise.
I thought it was a good idea. I asked him how often he used that feature. He said not that often, but every time he did, he saved some time and less damage occured to the stock. He also said that this feature came in quite handly when clamping something that was NOT woodworking related.
You have to be aware of where the vise hardware attaches to the bench and work around it. But he did and it worked great.
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I use the 3/4" holes on top of my bench for hold downs. My bench is maple. Will mdf handle the hold downs? I use the Sjoberg Holdfasts from Woodcraft. They have incredible clamping power. I am concerned that the MDF wouldn't hold up with the Holdfasts pulling against it.
My bench top overhangs the legs 16 inches. I would make the overhang a minimum of 24" if I were to build another bench.
I am considering putting the Lee Valley twin screw vice on the front of my bench. I don't have a tail vice.
My legs are made of clear fir 4x4's from Home Depot.
Have fun!
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I plan on making my own wooden dogs, and the MDF top will be 3" thick at those hole locations. If they fail I am out a mornings work and 2 sheets of MDF to replace the top.

That is where I am uneasy. If my over hang was 16" on each end I would have a work bench woth legs that are 3'- 4" apart.

I am considering fir however in the Houston area the HD's mostly sell "White Wood" and SYP. A local lumber yard has fir but they are typically on the pricey side.
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One thought. If done correctly, you will only have ONE workbench for the rest of your life. It's not a big project, so spend what it costs to get some quality lumber. I doubt that holddowns will work in MDF at all, but you might try a load of epoxy or superglue in the hole to give it sokme support. But again... make a top from good 2x4s, laminated together, and sanded at a cabinet shop. Or buy a premade top of maple for $200. Think of the top as a flat reference plane for assembly, a work surface, a surface to pound against, and much more. As you would plan to spend a little for a good table saw, plan to spend what it costs for a good workbench.
My feeling is that a good workbench and some hand tools will produce better products than a few power tools and a B&D Workmate folding bench.
Hope this helps.....
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rich wrote:

Or put in inserts. Can be store bought or made from a few strips of maple or other hardwood. Means a more complex construction but can save bucks over solid maple.

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One thought. If done correctly, you will only have ONE workbench for the rest of your life.
It will be my 3rd in 30 years.
It's not a big project, so spend what it costs to get some quality lumber. I doubt that holddowns will work in MDF at all, but you might try a load of epoxy or superglue in the hole to give it sokme support.
Considering 30 years experience, I cannot really imagine tightening down so tight as to distort 3" deep holes.
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I just purchased a replacement belt for my 70's Rockwell Power Miter Box. The old belt isn't broke yet, but I figure it is a matter of time. I purchased the saw new. :-)
I have the same vintage Rockwell shaper as well.
I'm on my third bench as well I still have two of them. The first one was made of clear yellow pine. I don't think you can buy that anymore. I flattened the top with a Stanley 60 1/2 plane. I didn't have but one plane and really didn't know how to use one anyway.
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Leon wrote:

Got a ShopNotes with a pretty good work bench plan in it that is notable not so much for the bench itself, but a section with an excellent treatise on mounting bench vices, complete with complete drawings.
Remind me next time you're over and it's yours if you want it.
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 10/22/08
  Click to see the full signature.
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I bought my fir at the Fuqua Home Depot. I've seen it at the Kemah store.
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I bought my 4x4 fir at the Fuqua Home Depot. I've seen it at the Kemah store. I normally buy C grade fir at the Kilgores Deer Park Lumber store in League City. It is pricey, but they keep it inside and it is dry and very very straight.
My top is 24X72. I have 7" overhang on the tail end, 16" on the vice end, and the legs are 45" center to center. I also made it the same height as my table saw to provide support when ripping sheet goods. The bench is quite stable.
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"Leon" wrote:

IMHO, "white wood" is NBD if you approach it properly.
Start with 2x8s and rip them in half becuase you will have fewer defects to mess with using larger stock.
Laminate the resulting pieces in pairs, then cross pairs to accept some 3/8-16 all thread at final ass'y.
I'd probably use 4 pieces for a 72" bench. YMMV.
C'Bore what will be the outside pieces to hide the fender washers and nuts for the all thread.
Continue doing glue-ups in pairs until you have a raw top.
Insert all threads, then plug.
Wait a week and head to the drum sander guy in your area to produce a finished top.
Final result will weigh a ton, be low cost, and be "strong like bull".
Have fun.
BTW, if your construction grade lumber is delivered "wet" like it is here in SoCal, stack it outside in the sun for 2-3 weeks before starting.
If kiln dried, NBD.
Lew
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My bench is also made of MDF (1.5" thick). I installed a Groz vise on the side. It's out of the way and there when I need it. I also use homemade dogs from homedepot dowels. Works great. If pushed down too low they will fall through. I need to come up with a system to prevent this.
Mine : http://garagewoodworks.com/gw_blog/?p=36
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wrote:

Correction, mine is 3/4" thick. Works fine.
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wrote:
My bench is also made of MDF (1.5" thick). I installed a Groz vise on the side. It's out of the way and there when I need it. I also use homemade dogs from homedepot dowels. Works great. If pushed down too low they will fall through. I need to come up with a system to prevent this.
Mine : http://garagewoodworks.com/gw_blog/?p6
I suspect you are right. Bench dog, cut a piece of 1x4 into a 1x2, drill a 3/4" hole in it and glue it on to a 3/4" dowel. That is your dog and will not fall through the hole.
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"Leon" wrote

I just use 3/4' bolts for my bench dogs. I cut off the threaded part. If there might be a problem with marking the wood, I just use some waste wood for a spacer on the bolt. What gave me the idea was an oldtimer who used to lose his bench dogs in all the shavings, etc. So he went to the steel bolts and a big magnet to fish the bench dogs out of the mess.
Not that I am messy or anything...
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;~) My biggest fear with a steel dog is a router but coming in contact with it.
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A couple of thoughts.
be very careful bolting stuff to mdf. even mdf that's built up to the thickness you're talking about. size pilots appropriately.
I'm sure you have well-thought out reasons for using mdf. Have you considered all the possible directional torque the vise may put on the benchtop depending on what you're doing to what's clamped in the vise? I may be overthinking the stresses it will put on the mdf, but mebbe not.
I would put the vise wherever it will make it easiest to center any pounding forces directly over the leg of the bench. In your case, I would go with front mount, as close as possible to being in line with the legs.
hope that helps. Have fun with the bench. post progress pics.
jc

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http://www.woodsmithshop.com/episodes/season2/206 /
Check out the link. They had good ideas about the workbench they built.
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