A bench vise is a very handy tool to have in your workshop, as it can act as a spare pair of hands to hold a piece of material steady while you cut. It can be used to exert pressure on 2 pieces of material that you want to join together. Commercial bench vises can be expensive, but it's possible to make a simple bench vise yourself. Follow the steps below and you'll have an incredibly useful and versatile tool in no time.
Step 1 – Position the Bench Vise Surface
Place the 12 by 18 piece of wood or metal on your workbench in the area you want your vise. This will offer some protection to the surface below when you're working, and provide a flat area to lay the materials on. The 18 inch side should be facing the edge of the workbench and you should allow 2 to 3 inches of the wood/metal to overhang the surface underneath. Clamp this piece into place using two of the small metal vises. For maximum stability, place the clamps an inch or two from each edge of the board and make sure they are securely tightened.
Step 2 - Make the Vise Jaws
Cut the 24 inch piece of 2 by 4 into four equal pieces of 6 inches. Take two of the pieces and place one vertically and the other horizontally to form an "L" shape. Use the wood glue and press them securely together. Add the metal brackets to the inside edge of the "L" to provide additional strength. Repeat this process with the other two pieces of wood to form the second part of the vise jaws. Clean up any glue that escapes from the joint for a tidy finish.
Step 3 – Complete the Vise
Place the two pieces of wood onto the surface with the vertical sides facing each other. Use the two remaining small metal vises to secure the jaws to the overhanging section of the surface. Don't secure the vises to the workbench underneath. One of the benefits of making your own bench vise is that you can remove it if you need to use the space on your workbench for something else.
Step 4 – Use Your New Bench Vise
To use the vise, loosen the metal clamp holding one of the jaws in place and move it to the far edge of the surface board before clamping it securely in place. Loosen and move the other jaw to the other edge of the board, but don't secure it. Place the material that you want to clamp onto the surface up against the jaw that is secured. Bring the other jaw flush against the material. Making sure that the material is held tightly in place by the jaws, clamp the second jaw in place. Before you being cutting, make sure that the piece of material is held firmly in place.