Sunday, August 10, 2014

Why I Don't Need No Stinking Tail Vise :-)

You folks please correct me if I'm wrong. The major function a tail vise, wagon vise or what ever serves is to hold long boards flat on the bench between dogs for face planing, cutting rebates, or grooves. Here is how I hold boards for two of the big three:

Here it is with the groove for the bottom partially cut:

Once I finish with thse bottom grooves I will drill the holdfast holes for the "bird's mouth" batten I use with a stop and a holdfast to secure boards for face planing, taking care of the rest of the big three jobs for a tail vise.

I think for each of these jobs, holdfasts, battens, and stops will do the job as fast or maybe faster than using a tail vise and with little chance of bowing thin stock.

BTW, notice my row of dog holes are slightly more "inboard" than they would be if the bench had a tail vise.

Photos of a face planing set up to follow.


  1. You don't need a stop at the front for this op? It looks like this would slip due to the planing force.
    I have a tail vise and it's what I learned on. I have hold fasts too but my preference is to use the vise and dogs.
    The only hard spot I have with it is the handle sticks up above the plane of the workbench at the 12 o'clock position.

  2. Ralph,

    Not with the grain like this is, for cutting grooves across the grain I will sometimes use a stop. The holdfast will put a surprising amount of holding force on the subject board. End vises and dogs were the way most of us started, in fact I worked a long time before I discovered holdfasts. Once I did and I moved to a hand tool shop, except for the rough truing and dimensioning of stock, I started looking at the way the ancients worked wood and many of the early benches did not have end vises. Anyway long story short I started using holdfasts, battens and stops instead of dogs and end vises. It works for me but everyone has a different way of working.

    Having room for the forward holdfast is the reason the dog holes are a little inboard from the standard as close to the edge as you can place them. There is plenty of room to plane a groove or a rebate, I don't even notice the holdfast is there.

    Like I posted, after I finish cutting the grooves for MsOK's box I'm going to drill the holes needed for the holdfasts to hold the battens for face planing boards. I've been putting it off because it is a job in the heat, about two holes is the limit between core cooling tea breaks. I'll post some photos once done.


  3. When I built my Nicholson split top bench, I didn't have any vise on it at all for a couple years, though I did have a Moxon vise. I found the experience very instructive and could have continued indefinitely quite happily. The key to it is to have a good planing stop and a crochet. I learned from Bob Rozaieski to make a board that fit in the split and stuck up a quarter of an inch or so to act as a side stop.

  4. I've spent some time reading and looking at woodworking forum threads on bench building. From that experience I have to question why most are building the bench they build and if they plan to work wood or is the bench just a toy, a gadget with as many features as they can add. I think I have called them Swiss Army Knife benches.

    OK, I'm back on my meds....I find it more enjoyable working on a simple bench. I have to say I like my Paramo #52 face vise (it has been with me almost as long as I've worked wood) so I might not be able to work with no vise but then you did have a Moxon ;-). How has your bench evolved or did you build another one?

    BTW, my other bench has a adjustable split fill that can serve as a side stop. I haven't made one for this bench, maybe latter.