Plans for a Saw Vise

There are lots of things you can do with tools if you learn to use them. It is twice as hard to use tools the wrong way as it is to use them the right way. You will be using tools all of your life.

Boy Scouts of America, Bear Cub Scout Book, 1971

Life has been a little crazy lately, the temperatures dropped down to -10 degrees below 0 Fahrenheit last week which froze the water line from the well head to the house. We're still waiting for the well guy to show up with the waterproof heat tape to put inside the water line. I've been having to drive 3 miles to the nearest water source every other day to fill up water jugs. I really don't mind it, we lived with limited water supplies at Cedar Grove in northeastern California. It's warmer now, it was 42 degrees F this morning, it's the end of January and we live at 8,500 feet elevation, go figure.

Yesterday, I decided to be bad and not French polish, I pulled out my favorite Disston rip saw and started to re-saw a walnut board that has been leaning in the corner of the studio. I plan on making a close copy of Antonio Torres' very famous FE 17 guitar from this walnut, so I thought that there is nothing like the present, besides re-sawing the wood will help clear out the studio a bit.

Well, the saw was a little dull so it was out to the shop to pull down the saw clamp that I made 10 years ago and haven't used in about 4 years. I clamped the vise to the bench, clamped the saw in the vise and then discovered that I don't have a sharp saw file in the studio. You can imagine my frustration, but I did manage to find one that did a fair job.

After the first round of re-sawing I decided that I would share the plans that I used to make this vise, here they are. I really don't want to give the title of the book that I got them from, I'm afraid that woodworkers will start searching for this out-of-print book and drive the price up so high that only wealthy collectors can purchase it. I say this because I just saw that Mike Abbott's book on green woodworking can sell for as much as $1000! I bought it brand new at MacBeath Hardware in Berkeley, California for 12 bucks in 1994!

Please feel free to make a copy of the vise and share the plans. I used Douglas fir for the entire vise, though I wish that I had used maple for the jaws, maple might absorb some of the filing vibrations.

I like this vise in that it brings the saw almost up to chest level, I'm glad that I made it.


  1. An interesting saw vice design Wilson - I particularly like the nifty lock stick mechanism. Thanks.

    I hope your water supply resumes soon - that's a long way round to making a cup of tea at the moment.

  2. As I said, I like this vice, I remember when I put a saw in between two pieces of 1x material to sharpen it. When I worked at Yosemite National Park I once had to sharpen a two-man crosscut saw. The only way to hold it to clamp it on a cross tie in between two fence posts!

  3. I don't understand how the vise is secured for filing. Do you clamp it in your bench's front vise?

  4. You can clamp it in your vise, clamp it against a fence, or screw it to the wall, which was done in the book I took it from. Use your imagination to figure out the best way to secure and use it! It is meant to be set up directly in front of and against a window.

    Check out Harold "Dynamite" Payson's book on saw sharpening, Keeping the Cutting Edge, for other saw vise ideas. It is available at the Wooden Boat Store.

  5. I found this design on Alf's site several years ago.

    A very fun design and my first totally hand tool build.


  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. I'm glad that Alf has the same design, though I have to ask, was it first published in England or the United States? And did Alf find it in an old book on farming?

  8. She has it in a section called Galootish Gleanings, which she labels as "Scans from 1920's annuals of The Woodworker magazine."

    Regards, Mike

  9. The first copyright date on the book I got the plans from is 1923. Did you notice that my plans are for a wider vise than the English one? I guess we Americans use longer saws. Still, where did the plans originally come from? Great Britain or the USA?

  10. Excellent saw vise and glad you have the plans. I will be building this for all my handsaw.

  11. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing blog that understand the value. Im glad to have found this post as its such an interesting one! I am always on the lookout for quality posts and articles so i suppose im lucky to have found this! I hope you will be adding more in the future... Craftsman CMCCSP20M1


Post a Comment

Popular Posts