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Every woodworker, or every person who has ever used a tool for that matter, has a tool that he or she is supposed to love, but secretly hates. As an electrician, for me the tool was lineman’s pliers. I’ve worked with electricians who have used the lineman’s pliers like it was an extension of their hand. For whatever reasons, I never felt completely comfortable with them: I never cared for how they nicked the wire (OCD?), and they always felt a little awkward in my hand. As a woodworker, the tool I “hate” is the Moxon Vise. A few years back those vices were the trend of the month, and just about every other woodworker on the planet either ordered the vise hardware to make the Moxon, or purchased one pre-made from several different manufacturers. When I first built the Moxon vise I praised its virtues just like everybody else: It was relatively easy to build, it held the board nearer to the optimal height for sawing dovetails/joinery, and generally it did not cost much to make. Sounds like a winner, right? Do you know when I used the Moxon vise last? Me neither. The Moxon vise is large and takes up a lot of room. Of course you could make it smaller, but that would basically eliminate its supposed best feature: the ability to clamp wide boards.Speaking for myself, I don’t often need to clamp wide boards. On the rare occasion that I do find myself clamping a wide board, the leg vise and a holdfast are often more than adequate.
So what is the Moxon style vise good for in my garage? Not much. As I said, it takes up a lot of space under my workbench, and seems to get in the way more than anything else.
On a good note, I got the vise hardware from Tools for Working Wood, and it is of high quality. I was thinking of somehow incorporating it as an end vise for my workbench, though at the moment I have other projects in mind.
Let me stress that I am speaking only for myself. I’m sure that many woodworkers out there love the Moxon style vise and use it on a regular basis. If I didn’t have a decent workbench I may just be one of those woodworkers. In my “professional” opinion this is a great vise for a woodworker who doesn’t already have a traditional workbench (or the space for one). Because a good workbench can do everything the Moxon does, leaving the Moxon vise as a single use tool which is redundant, and which takes up valuable storage space.