Monkey Moment #03 – Handscrew Vise

Bench Vise - Get More from your Wood Screw Clamps

Need to do some hand tool work but don’t have a proper work bench and vise? Out steps the wooden handscrew clamp to save the day! I’ve always coveted those with a traditional workbench and it has been on my to-do list for a very long time. Until that time comes, I’ve been using a few wooden handscrew clamps in place of traditional bench vises and a reclaimed kitchen table for my primary work surface.

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Securing a Wooden Handscrew Vise

I started off by clamping my wooden handscrew clamps to my work surface but after getting up to three clamps to hold it in place, I started screwing them down. If having a couple minor screw holes in your work surface bothers you or you’re on the job site and don’t have a normal work surface, clamps generally work just fine for something quick and dirty. I like to put a few (3) deep countersunk holes in the clamps and then screw them down to my table. Depending on my configuration, I’ll either hang one clamp off of the table’s corner or put two facing each other on the side. When in use they are almost always in the same spots so the holes are re-usable and I’m not constantly poking new holes in my work surface.

Screwing down a wooden hand screwn clamp bench vise
Screwing down wooden handscrew clamps to a workbench.
Wooden hand screw clamp as a bench vise
Clamping a wooden handscrew clamp to a workbench.


Using a Wooden Handscrew Vise

wooden handscrew clamp bench vise
Flattening or joining one side of the material using a single handscrew vise

Vises are a must for nearly any type woodworker and especially if you do anything with hand tools. Without a woodworking vise I was at a loss as I entered more into the finer side of the hand tool and hybrid styles of woodworking. Time and time again I ran into issues where planing, chiseling or hand scraping was much more work that it should have been. Until one day I picked up a wooden handscrew clamp just for fun and it changed everything. It almost didn’t matter that I didn’t have a proper workbench anymore. I was able to clamp my wood screw clamp to my make-shift workbench (reclaimed kitchen table) and then clamp my work piece in and use hand tools to my heart’s content.

With a single clamp, flattening or joining a single piece of material is cake. I like hang it off of one corner to maximize effectiveness and increase accessibility around the work piece. In this configuration, you can easily clamp most small work pieces in almost any direction to saw, plane or chisel your way down to the perfect line.

holding a project in a wooden hand screw vise
Clamping a mallet to cut off the wedges on top of the head.
clamping a project in a wooden hand screw vise
Pairing down and flattening the wedges on top of a mallet head while clamped in a wooden handscrew clamp.

Using a wooden hand screw clamp to joint two boards
Planing two boards side by side to prepare for a panel glue up.

Using two wooden handscrew clamps,  you can place both along the same edge of your work surface to handle longer material. This makes it easy to joint two boards that will be used in a panel glue up to get it perfectly flat .

Using one of these clamps can help solve some other tricky problems such as securing a long narrow piece like a mallet handle. In the case of my Joiners Mallet build, I needed to shape the handles using  my spokeshave and card scrapers. This was nearly impossible when holding it by hand and even clamping it in the handscrew vise didn’t offer much help. I was able to clamp the mallet handle into an F-Style clamp which I promptly clamped into a clamped clamp. I’m pretty sure I said that right but you might have to check out the pictures to make sure. Clamping the mallet handle this way gave me ample room to maneuver the spokeshave around the mallet handle and then turn it to reach all sides.

Clamping a mallet handle in a clamped handscrew clamp
Rounding a mallet handle with a spokeshave and card scraper while clamped in a clamped up clamp.
Clamping a mallet in a clamped wood screw clamp
Finishing or showing off a mallet while clamped in a clamped up clamp.

 Getting a Wooden Handscrew Vise

If you don’t already have a wooden handscrew clamp lying around they are generally pretty easy to locate. They aren’t very expensive new but they can also generally be picked up for next to nothing on craigslist or at local garage/estate sales. If you don’t want to spend the time searching, run to your local specialty woodworking supply store or even order them from any online woodworking site as well as Amazon. You’ve probably noticed all of the Amazon affiliate links to a 10-inch Wooden Handscrew Clamp. I would recommend a 10 or 12-inch clamp but they do come in all sorts of sizes and I like to say there’s a butt for every seat. If you do end up using my Amazon affiliate link I’ll get a small portion of the sale at no extra cost to you.

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