Installing a Vise on a Woodworking Bench

What You'll Need
Cast-iron vise
Drillwith wood bit
Lag bolts

Your vise is one of the most important tools on the woodworking bench. It is used for innumerable jobs in the workshop. A vise can usually be installed without much trouble and only a few tools. There are several ways a cast-iron vise can be installed. The instillation covered here is for a cast-iron vise with the back jaw butting against the edge of a top. 

Step 1—Choose Where to Put your Vise

A vise will usually be best situated near a corner as many other places will either be in the way, or will be impractical when working with long- or odd-shaped items. If your bench is located next to a wall, place the vice at the other end so you will not run into trouble when working with pipes or other long items.

The vise should be in a place where it is easy to use, but not where you will catch your clothes on it or where it will be a nuisance. Right handers will usually prefer the vice to be on the left hand of the bench, left handers, on the right. 

Step 2—Position the Vise

If you are installing a bench top vise, place the vise in position and mark where the holes will be. Drill the holes right through the bench top and bolt the vise into the top.

To install an edge cast-iron vise, remove the front jaw, screw and side bars to make the vise lighter and easier to work with. When the vise is installed, the top edge of the jaws should be ½ to ¾ inch below the top of the bench. This space allows room for the wood face which is added later to cover the top of the jaw.

On some vises the dog extends up to ½ inch above the jaws. You need to position it well below the bench top or the dog will stick above the work surface. You are likely to need a filler block between the bench underside and the mounting bracket portion of the vise to to produce the intended spacing. 

Step 3—Bolt on the Filler Block

Install the filler block for the vise. Drill and counterbore the block for 4 lag bolts before securing the block to the underside of the top. Drill the pilot holes while the block is positioned on the benchtop, add glue and thread the lag bolts home. 

Step 4—Mount the Vise

Position the vise on the block with the back jaw against the edge of the bench. Drill the pilot holes and add the lag screws. Make wood faces for the jaws so that pieces you are working on will not be damaged by the cast-iron jaws. Just screw a rectangular piece of hardwood to each of the jaws. Most jaws have predrilled holes which makes the job easier. 

Step 5—Put the Vise Back Together Again

If you took apart the vise while mounting it, put it together again now.