Tag Archives: 21stCentury

Benchcrafted’s Moxon Vise: A 17th-Century Design with 21st-Century Design Upgrades

After Christopher Schwarz wrote an article on how to build a Moxon vise, untold numbers of people tried it. But a sticking point for some was that one of the design elements in Schwarz’s rendition are handscrews made from wood:

Creating these requires turning blanks and cutting threads into them, a process some found difficult. People began reaching out to Benchcrafted, an Iowa-based manufacturer of high-quality vise hardware. “Soon after the [Moxon vise] article appeared,” they write, “we received numerous requests for hardware to make a vise similar to Schwarz’s version, but without having to buy a tapping kit and deal with the frustration that many have experienced with these kits.”

Benchcrafted looked at the design of the Moxon vise and brought it into the 21st Century. The wooden screws were jettisoned, replaced by carbon steel Acme screws, which can withstand a tremendous amount of force. (Acme screws have trapezoidal thread profiles; this makes them exceptionally strong and the go-to thread profile for power machinery.)

Acme threads
Acme threads

Rather than requiring the user to twist handles with octagonal cross-sections, as in Moxon’s 17th-century version, Benchcrafted added a much more ergonomic touch: Their signature cast-iron handwheels, which have enough mass that once you get them going, they practically spin themselves.

Next they made this interesting design choice: The handwheels do not drive the screws, but rotate on the screws. “Instead of the handwheel rotating the screws and being restricted by the weight of the movable jaw, we’ve fixed the screws to the vise itself (they don’t move) and tapped the handwheels, allowing them to move in and out on the rigid screws. The mass of the wheels and the polished acme threads allows the hand wheels to spin freely and do the work of drawing the jaws together effortlessly.”

Finally they’ve lined the inside of the front chop with Crubber, a material made by grinding cork and rubber and combining them under high pressure. Cut into sheets and used to line a vise, the material provides excellent grip yet will not mar the workpiece.

If you don’t understand any of the descriptions above, watch the following demo and all will be clear:

Benchcrafted manufactures and sells the Moxon vise hardware (for $ 149) only; the end user is meant to provide the wood and knock it together.

Benchcrafted’s design improvements to the Moxon vise are apparent. But next we’ll look at how a couple of ingenious fellows pushed the design even further with some clever hacks.