How can I use a vise in the city, the no-bench blues

//How can I use a vise in the city, the no-bench blues
How can I use a vise in the city, the no-bench blues2015-12-03T13:53:16+00:00
  • Creator
  • #2028073

    Tomas B
    Post count: 8

    First off, this is my first post on here, nice to meet everyone!

    I am for all intents a beginner. And of course my interest in hand tool woodworking chose not to surface itself in the first 30 years of my life living in Oklahoma, but chose to develop after moving to a 1 bedroom 3rd story apartment in Chicago. So here i sit, no chance of scoring a real workshop (my mean old wife wants use our bedroom to sleep in…) and will find myself without a workbench until we move to the burbs in a couple years.

    So the big question, can anyone think of a way i could have a vise? or at least something close? i really want to do chisel work, and am currently investing in my initial purchases of chisels, planes, saws, and the like. but i don’t know how i am going to be able to work on things like dovetails with out a vise of some sort. as far as a bench goes i could see myself finding ways around it, but the vise thing? no clue…

  • Author
  • James Wright
    Post count: 108

    When I first started I used a Table clamp metal vice I fit with wooden jaws to do the work on the kitchen table. the first thing I mad was a jewelry box for my wife and that made her OK with me using it.

    If you are ever in Rockford 1.5 Hours West let me know I would love to say hey and share shop stories. I am in RFD a few times a month.


  • Tomas B
    Post count: 8

    Thanks for the idea! clamps might be the best way to go, our current table is a bit of a flimsy target special, but i might be able to rig something i am working on to a kitchen counter overhang… serious inspiration here!!!

    I don’t find myself in Rockford often, but my wife has an aunt there i think!

  • Mike in TN
    Post count: 284

    Hi Thomas B,

    Welcome to the group. Believe me, you are not the first to have deal with these issues. Hand tool woodworking is probably the best option available to apartment dwellers because it is so much quieter and requires less space than power tool woodworking. There are numerous references on the internet on the use of different devices for work holding particularly for Nicholson type benches. You just need to look at the options to find what will work best for your particular situation. You may want to look at taking a piece of lumber ( a 2X12 maybe) that you flatten, drill dog holes in, attach devices to, that you can clamp to a table or between saw horses, to use as a portable bench surface. You can use clamps, pegs and wedges etc. for the work holding and will help to keep tools away from the table surface. To help offset the lack of weight you can place one end of the board against a n object or a wall (protect the surfaces) to act against the push of tools At the end of the work you can stand it up in a closet or slide it under a bed.  The other good news is that many of the devices can be made by the craftsman so you don’t have a lot of out-of-pocket expenses.

    Have fun

  • Mike in TN
    Post count: 284
  • Sides
    Post count: 53

    Hi Tomas

    If you look at the ideas Mike and James posted, both are good.

    To start cheap is just buy a bunch of clamps. If you need to stand something on its side to plane edge grain. Clamp a length of 4×4 to the table, then clamp the work piece to the 4×4. If the piece is long, work at the edge of the table and let the piece hang off the side of the table.

    Another way to start is make a simple moxon vise and clamp it to your kitchen table. You don’t need expensive clamps either.

    If you have a little extra room, the portable bench Mike posted is an awesome way to get started

    Just remember where there is a will, there is a way. Be creative and have fun.

  • Tomas B
    Post count: 8

    Thanks for the good ideas everyone! I don’t think a real workbench is going to work that well for me right now, space is iffy and cash is REAL iffy, but this certainly gave me some ideas to come up with a solution!

  • AndrewLeslie
    Post count: 12

    Yeah, I’d suggest a metal vise that can clamp to your table.
    I’ve been woodworking without a vise, and it’s the worst. Finally invested in one of these vises, and it’s made things so much easier. Still, I’m a long way from the dream of having a proper workshop, or a workbench. I can’t wait for those days. *Sigh*

    My table is a cheapo as well, but it’s holding up well. As long as it’s solid wood, it should be strong enough, assuming the vise is structured well.

  • Oakenarm
    Post count: 5

    Check out this link on popular woodworking for “Bench Bulls“. This is a very simple (made mine out of scrap 2×8) appliance with a TON of versatility. I use mine with a bench because it raises the work height for cutting dovetails and such. This can be clamped to pretty much any table top and could be customized to suit your need.


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