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Picture of Add Front and Tail Vises to a Maple Work Table

I've been using this maple table for something like 25 years now, and never really made full use of it. It turned into a clutter collector with some chisels laying around like decorations. But I recently read a book on the Studley tool chest, and got all inspired to make better tool storage, starting with some hand cut dovetail drawers for storing drill bits. Realizing I didn't have a good way to hold work for using planes and chisels, I postponed the drawers, and got busy converting the table to a traditional woodworking bench.

These tables are currently selling for about $300 USD, so they aren't super expensive. By the time you buy enough 8/4 maple to build a bench top, you could almost buy one of these pre-made. The steel legs don't dampen the vibrations from chopping, like beefy wooden legs would; but bolted to the wall and floor, it makes a pretty stout bench.

This project is heavy on metalworking, but as it progresses there are some neat tricks with glue including hidden wedge tenons and wedged thru tenons.

Step 1: Collect the parts

Picture of Collect the parts

The bench upgrade uses a bench screw for the tail vise, and a front vise. The front vise just bolts under the bench, and has a big hunk of wood for the vise face.

The screw is very basic, and requires quite a bit of fabrication to turn into something useful. The idea is to hold the screw in the 'L' shaped vise face so it can spin, but when the screw turns it pushes against the permanently mounted blue piece, and opens/closes the vise face. The blue piece is mounted to the underside of the bench.

The front vise and bench screw both came from Grizzly.