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Thread: Leg Vise Question

  1. #1
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    Leg Vise Question

    One of my plans for a bench is to include a leg vise.

    My design uses a parallel bar at the bottom of the vise to set with a pin. Most of these have three rows of holes for inserting the pin. Part of my plan is to build a pin setting system so a person doesn't have to reach down to set the pin.

    My question is what is the distance between centers from row to row?

    From looking at images on line, one showed 2cm or just a mm over 3/4". That seems like it could cause vertical racking at times.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  2. #2
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    Jim, my parallel guide has two rows of holes. The distance between the two rows is 1 1/2 on center. The holes on each row are centered 1 apart. The rows of holes are staggered 1/2 from each other.

    0565D021-C5F8-460C-8079-D357DDBC8007.jpg

  3. #3
    Jim,

    I've never known vertical racking to be a problem with leg vise parallel guides. The most important factor for holding power is the chop needs just a slight toe-in, that is the main advantage of the crisscross (other than no pin)the toe-in can be adjusted and remains pretty constant through the chops travel.

    I have both types of leg vise in my shop, a wood screw with pin and parallel guide and a metal screw with crisscross. Both can hold very well but the one with the parallel guide will sometimes need a little fiddling to find the correct pin placement for proper toe-in. The metal with crisscross just works, when it clamps down ain't nothing going to move.

    ken

  4. #4
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    When building my second bench I put in a Criss Cross with the leg vise. It became clear to me that I would never use the leg vise in the older bench as long as I had the option of the leg vise in the newer bench. I immediately converted the older bench. Long story short, put a criss cross in it and be done.

    Ron

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Brese View Post
    When building my second bench I put in a Criss Cross with the leg vise. It became clear to me that I would never use the leg vise in the older bench as long as I had the option of the leg vise in the newer bench. I immediately converted the older bench. Long story short, put a criss cross in it and be done.

    Ron
    Thanks Ron, You said what I wanted to say.

    I agree, I will never build another bench using a parallel guide. In fact if there were room to fit a crisscross, the old bench with the parallel guide would be converted instead it is for sale so I can build a new bench with the screw and crisscross that is already on the shelf.

    ken
    Last edited by ken hatch; 03-28-2020 at 8:44 AM.

  6. #6
    Parallel guides can for some users be overrated. My leg vise in fact has NO parallel guide, but just shims on the floor. I am not saying it's more convenient than a system that requires no manual setting, but in reality a given setting will work for a wider range of work thickness that we probably consider. A 3/4" space at the bottom will hold pieces from 7/8 - 1/4".

    Where I notice it is on pieces over 6/4". However, even with that, I'm usually working on 4 legs of a chair or table, so set it once, and it doesn't need resetting.

    Jim, if you do not want to bend down more than you have to, make sure to put your screw as high as possible... Working the screw every 5 mins at a low height is more fatiguing than the guide reset every couple hours.
    Last edited by Prashun Patel; 03-28-2020 at 9:12 AM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Mueller View Post
    Jim, my parallel guide has two rows of holes. The distance between the two rows is 1 1/2” on center. The holes on each row are centered 1” apart. The rows of holes are staggered 1/2” from each other.

    0565D021-C5F8-460C-8079-D357DDBC8007.jpg
    Quote Originally Posted by Prashun Patel View Post
    [edited]
    A 3/4" space at the bottom will hold pieces from 7/8 - 1/4".

    Jim, if you do not want to bend down more than you have to, make sure to put your screw as high as possible... Working the screw every 5 mins at a low height is more fatiguing than the guide reset every couple hours.
    Thanks Phil & Prashun for the helpful information.

    A question to myself this morning was how many were going to suggest a Criss-Cross. It seems a fine solution and it seemed it wouldn't be difficult to make one. However, an idea came to mind on how to avoid bending over to set a pin. My curiosity and determination has a need to see it through.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  8. #8
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    I use a leg vise with parallel guide right now. It works fine for me though yes I do tire of reaching down to move the pin. It is more of a slight nuisance than any kind of limitation and I love things to be simple which the parallel guide is.

    When I originally made this vice, instead of a parallel guide, I had a lower screw with a wheel. I could operate the lower wheel with my foot. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but spent much more time pushing the thing with my foot than it takes to just move a pin.

    Mine are spaced 1-1/2" apart on each row with the the second row offset, so 3/4" resolution which has been fine enough for my needs.

  9. #9
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    Mine has no guides. There is a 3/4" spacer where the end of the chop rests on the bench's foot. A little adjustment, and the end of the chop rests on the floor, for anything 3" thick.

    Usual working thickness for the leg vise is up to two 3/4" thickness boards.....usually I just do one board...
    Tool Cabinet build, jointer in use.JPG
    I also include a c clamp at the far end ( don't have any holdfasts)

    Leg vise also is a 3rd hand during panel glue ups...
    Tool Cabinet build, top panel glued up.JPG

    The leg vise screw is an old 1/2" Pony Pipe clamp....with a 2' pipe attached.....moving part of the clamp presses against the inside/back of the leg. Chop was rived from a 6 x 6 Sycamore beam.

    Been using this "system" for a LONG time....second bench for this vise.
    Tool Cabinet build, glue up done.JPG
    Seems to work..
    Tool Cabinet build, door panels jointed.JPG
    Joint 2 planks at the same time...then glue them up, without moving the one board very much..

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post
    One of my plans for a bench is to include a leg vise.

    My design uses a parallel bar at the bottom of the vise to set with a pin. Most of these have three rows of holes for inserting the pin. Part of my plan is to build a pin setting system so a person doesn't have to reach down to set the pin.

    My question is what is the distance between centers from row to row?

    From looking at images on line, one showed 2cm or just a mm over 3/4". That seems like it could cause vertical racking at times.

    jtk

    Jim,
    Back when Benchcrafted was selling parallel guide hardware, they had a diagram for this. Three rows with 15/16" between holes, thus there is a hole every 5/16".
    However, I've never seen this arrangement on an older bench. What I've seen, and what I've done myself, is two rows of holes 1" on center, so there is a hole every 1/2". I've never regretted this. A benefit most people might not consider is that it's very easy to count off the holes and put the pin in the right hole without guessing. Harder to do this with the three hole system.
    In response to my friends Ken and Ron, I have to say: I always chuckle at those hand tool woodworkers who think nothing of spending tons of time resawing or planing by hand, yet they somehow find the five seconds it takes to adjust a parallel guide to be a dealbreaker.
    The crisscross is a nice piece of kit; by all means get one if it floats your boat. But the parallel guide is a sturdy, effective solution that has worked for centuries. I have no plans to replace mine.
    "For me, chairs and chairmaking are a means to an end. My real goal is to spend my days in a quiet, dustless shop doing hand work on an object that is beautiful, useful and fun to make." --Peter Galbert

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Voigt View Post
    Jim,
    Back when Benchcrafted was selling parallel guide hardware, they had a diagram for this. Three rows with 15/16" between holes, thus there is a hole every 5/16".
    However, I've never seen this arrangement on an older bench. What I've seen, and what I've done myself, is two rows of holes 1" on center, so there is a hole every 1/2". I've never regretted this. A benefit most people might not consider is that it's very easy to count off the holes and put the pin in the right hole without guessing. Harder to do this with the three hole system.
    In response to my friends Ken and Ron, I have to say: I always chuckle at those hand tool woodworkers who think nothing of spending tons of time resawing or planing by hand, yet they somehow find the five seconds it takes to adjust a parallel guide to be a dealbreaker.
    The crisscross is a nice piece of kit; by all means get one if it floats your boat. But the parallel guide is a sturdy, effective solution that has worked for centuries. I have no plans to replace mine.
    Steve,

    It isn't the moving of the pin. I've had at least 3 maybe 4 benches with parallel guides and all have worked well. BTW, I've done two rows and three rows there ain't much difference functionally other than the two row parallel guide is easier and quicker to make. Where the biggest difference is is in holding power, with a well set up crisscross the toe-in can be easily adjusted and when set correctly the holding power of the vise is unbelievable with little need to crank that sucker down. None of my leg vises, metal screw or wood, with parallel guides have the holding power of this latest vise with a metal screw and crisscross. The other advantage is the crisscross will hold that adjustment through its full range of travel. It just makes a better vise. The lack of a pin is the cherry on top. As always YMMV but building a new bench with a parallel guide is a mistake.

    ken

  12. #12
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    Jim, our Wheelwrights vice (a leg vice that extends above the bench) had three rows of holes. It was fixed to one end of a long bench (about 5 meters) that was built against a wall. The bench was a tool well and a 350mm wide worksurface with some drawers below and tool racks above.

    At the other end of the bench was a large quick release vise. I always reverted to the quick release vise. Even as a child the quick release vise suited my workflow.

    As Ken always points out, different things works well for us. I'm not intrested in having a leg vice anytime soon.

    Hope you're keeping well over there.

  13. #13
    I have used a slanted leg vise. for over forty years. The slant enables you to have a board vertical in the vise without racking pressure. I also have two rows of holes in the guide each with one inch spacing (so 1/2 inch increments). One advantage to this system is that it enables you to adjust the leverage on the vise. For some things you want the vise so that it grips tightly at the top, so it is actually quite cocked; for other things you want to have the vise and leg closer to parallel.

  14. #14
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    Hope you're keeping well over there.
    Yes Graham, it is fairly easy for me living on 5+ acres. Being a hermit comes easy.

    I also have two rows of holes in the guide each with one inch spacing (so 1/2 inch increments). One advantage to this system is that it enables you to adjust the leverage on the vise. For some things you want the vise so that it grips tightly at the top, so it is actually quite cocked; for other things you want to have the vise and leg closer to parallel.
    Thanks for pointing this out Warren. This sounds like a good argument for the parallel guide.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  15. #15
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    Jim, I made a leg vise that has a parallel guide at the bottom that has a toothed steel bar that goes click-click-click as the vise is wound open, and catches to hold the bottom of the vise when you release the pivoting steel catch bar.

    I got the idea online somewhere, it might be from Will Meyers.
    It works very well, and was not difficult to make.

    I'll be to my shop on Monday and I'll take some photos.

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