Embedding vise behind apron

  • Creator
  • #41968

    Howdy, y’all.

    I’m heading into the home stretch on my workbench build, and I was wondering if people had thoughts on embedding the vise into the main surface of the bench so that the front apron serves as vise jaw liner on one side. I’ve heard that an advantage of that position is that you can clamp longer pieces, out beyond the vise, to the apron (from the well, I would guess) without packings and such.

    What would be the downsides of such a placement? Only thing that comes to mind is that the vise would be permanently stuck in this position…but I don’t get the sense that anyone’s interested in moving their vise around anyway. I suppose you also wouldn’t be able to replace the vise liner on one side if it wears out. My bench is maple, if that matters.

    Thanks in advance for any advice!

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  • Author
  • #41977
    David R.


    Hi. Paul wrote an article on this topic not too long ago:

    Questions Answered – Flush-to-Face or Protruding Vises

    Maybe this answers some of you questions. I plan to mount my vise onto the apron.


    from Germany



    I considered doing this when I built me bench recently. I’m really pleased that I resisted the temptation and have the rear jaw sticking out a bit the way Paul does. That small gap between your work and the front of your bench stops the tool from accidentally cutting into the bench.
    My vise is about 9″ wide and a haven’t found it to be lacking at all when it comes to holding the work so I don’t think there’s any advantage to the full length of the apron being the rear jaw. It will have to be dead flat too whereas with Paul’s method, the design is more forgiving so when the wood moves you won’t have to take any corrective action. Ultimately though I think it’s just a personal preference thing.

    Keep Calm and have a Cup of Tea



    Thanks for the help! Much obliged.



    I really think it comes down to personal preference.
    My bench is pushing 40 years old and the vise is embedded with the front apron serving as the rear jaw. I’m not adverse to the other, I’ve just gotten used to it.
    I think Pauls approach is the same as many others who use the Record type vises, ie. Phil Lowe. I’m planning on building another bench this spring, if it ever warms up, and will probably install it the same as Paul has.
    It’s your bench–go for it!
    PS Don’t forget to take and post pics….We all love pics.

    SW Pennsylvania



    For what its worth I went really simple since my workbench is also the outfeed table for 2 table saws and and a router table. Instead of a vise I got two metal vice screws and used a 2 X 6 for the outer jaw. The inside jaw is the table. I mounted them 24 inches apart and the have 10 inches past the screws. for a total of 34 inches in length. The left edge is flush with the end of the table. I can clamp a cabinet side between the screws. I find that the ability to rack the whole thing to grip at the end is actually a benifit. It also allows me to work in the middle of my bench. I agree that personnel preference is key to functional design and this really works well for me.



    Many years ago I built a workbench similar to the one Norm Abram built on New Yankee Workshop. That was during my power tool days. I mounted the front vise behind the front apron of the bench and used it that way for 30 years. Now that I’m a hand tool only guy (I use a shop vac and an cordless drill once in a great while), I use the vise a lot more. I noted that Paul mounted the vise on his bench on the front apron and thought I’d try it. I thought it might be another good idea like raising the bench to 38″ which I did to take the stress off my back when doing dovetails.
    I didn’t want to tear the bench apart and remount the vise in front of the front maple apron. Instead I attached a 2×4 spacer to the apron using double sided tape. This gave me the opportunity to use the vise as Paul does. I’ve used the vise this way for about 6 months and don’t see any reason to go back to what I had before.
    So, if you’re undecided, you could mount it behind the front apron and the add the spacer. If it doesn’t work out, it’s easy to take the spacer off and go back to the ‘old’ way.



    The benchtop apron is also the rear jaw of my vice. I like it this way as I can clamp long timbers to my benchtop at the other end without the need for a spacer.

    It also allows for a larger maximum vice opening than if you had an extra rear jaw.

    If I ever wanted to insert a rear jaw, it would be a simple matter of removing the front jaw, drilling out a new jaw, and sliding it on the vice.

    As for protecting the benchtop, I’ve never considered it necessary. Once a year, I plane it true and this removes most of the glue, shellac spills, the odd ding, saw kerf, chisel mark etc.

    As others have said, it’s all personal preference and I don’t think there’s a hard and fast rule.



    My first workbench had the vise let into the bench top, following the same recommendations you spoke of; better clamping etc. It worked great, but I had nothing to compare it to, so I didn’t know what I was missing. After spending a month with Paul last summer, on a 38″ bench, with the vise out front of the bench top, I will never go back.

    Clamping long boards it not a problem. Make a bench hook type spacer the same thickness your vise is off the top. When you need to clamp something long, slip in it place.

    I like being able to get my fingers around the piece I’m clamping in the vise; something that can not be done when the rear jaw is let in.

    Cleveland, Ohio U.S.A.



    For me it’s not only a question of getting my fingers in between the apron and the vise, more important for me is to have a bit more space for the square to check while planing the edge of a board with the prepared face facing the apron side.

    I enjoy working wood in Germany.



    Even though I don’t have one of the real nice vises mine is not flush with the apron. I’d thought about mounting mine flush but I put stock into Paul’s wood working techniques so why would I consider not also following his lead on mounting my vise? There are pros and cons to both though… As stated by others here, it’s really up to you and your goal. Do post pictures when you get r done!

    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

    Albert Einstein

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