Saturday, October 18, 2008

Getting To Know Roubo -- Leg Vise Tweak

When I made my Roubo bench I used a roughly 5" section of 3/8" steel rod as a pivot pin for the parrallel guides on both leg vises. I don't move the pin often, but when I do it's a bit of a pain to grab that little pin, especially when the vise is almost closed.

I'm pretty sure I got this idea from a picture of Lie-Nielsen's new Roubo bench, posted on Woodworking Magazine's weblog. The area of the picture was a little blurry, but it planted the seed, and I went with it. So credit to Lie-Nielsen Toolworks for this idea.

So I lengthened the pins, then inserted them into a turned handle. The pins are now much easier and quicker to grab and reposition.

The pin for the sliding vise is a bit longer since the rear chop on the slider is wider.

After using the handled pin a few times I realized that some thought and effort was required to avoid over-inserting the pin in the parallel guide's hole. Pushing the pin in too far places the handle between the jaws and prevents the pin from seating flatly against the leg. If part of the handle goes past the edge of the leg, the parallel guide would mash that part of the handle into the leg when clamping.

The solution was to stop the pin at a fixed location without interfering with the function of the pin. Anything larger than the pin's diameter would't work. My solution was to drill through each pin and drive in a 1/8" roll pin.

This makes changing holes truly brainless. It's impossible to over-insert the pin.

Changing pins in the parallel guide is quicker and easier than ever.


  1. That is really a neat idea.

    You mentioned lengthening the pin. That reminds me, I am really going to have to get a pin lengthener. Ha!

    Anyway, it seems like a great implementation of a great idea, but it wouldn't work for me. You see, I do have a leg vise on my bench, and it is drilled like yours, but I have kids. Little kids. The temptation would be too great for them. Everytime I wanted to adjust the vise, I would be looking in the sandbox, under the swingset and everywhere else to find it.

    Perhaps I could somehow cable lock it to the leg of the bench...

  2. Luke,

    Just glue it in the hole you use most often! (wink)

  3. I love the bench, but my back wouldn't thank me for bending down to relocate the pins every time the vice needed repositioning.

    How about foot-operated, spring-loaded pins mounted on the legs. They would probably take less time to make than your wood-handled pins.

    What are the handles by the way – rosewood? They're quite beautiful.

    Cheers, Woodwould, Australia.

  4. They are cocobolo. I'd love to hear your thoughts on a design for the spring-loaded pin. I'm always interested in improvements to the leg vise.

  5. I had been thinking of a similar thing with a slight variation. Put the pin holes on top of the parallel guide and put the pin in the leg. Gravity will ensure that it seats if made correctly, and a thin rod could extend up the inside of the entire leg and be attached to a small brass handle or ring pull recessed into the bench top or out the side of the leg near the top.

  6. Great idea Bruce! I think the parallel guide should be a little thicker though than 5/8". Very interesting....Thanks for sharing.


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