I start with a sheet of 8 x 4 foot best-quality 12 mm thick ply and get it cut into 6 rectangular strips. There is some left over. Often the timber supplier will have a table saw and will cut for you. I recommend best quality ply because it will have less air-gaps and so be stiffer at the jaw-line. Stiffness makes filing much more predictable.
Note an axle-bolt at bottom right of image below. That allows the vise to rotate to just the right angle and the right height for you.
Whatever vise length you opt for, cut your ply to these widths:-
|tool tray floor||1||150||mm||150|
Make a curve
The curve of your vise should match your most commonly-filed saw. Improvise a compass …
In the UK I find a 15 foot radius the best. I would not go smaller and at the most you’ll want 18 feet. Just compare the arcs on your various saws and pick a likely average. Because one-man saws can be asymmetric, any vise profiled to them won’t match a two-man saw so neatly. I think you are better with a symmetrical curve.
Mark to maintain orientation!
Align the hollow faces so they all face outwards. That way the bumps meet each other in the middle and grip the sawplate better. Bumps to the middle!
To make sure you can maintain orientation as you work on the vise, mark each edge with lines or numbers before removing any wood. That way you can always re-assemble the jaws in their correct alignment.
Mark your desired tooth-line curve on one inside cheek. To make sure the curves of the two inside cheeks align perfectly fix at least these two together and then cut them as a pair. Use bandsaw, panel saw, circular saw, electric jigsaw or framesaw. It is vital the inside cheeks’ tooth-line curves match perfectly otherwise the saw moves as you file it. If you have sufficient hand or electric power you could cut the curve on all 6 pieces in one pass. Alternatively you could cut the first inside cheek and then use that as a template for a powered router on the remaining cheeks.
Dilling and assembly
Align & drill, disassemble then drill
Align and drill
Align the bottom and side edges and clamp the 6 strips together. 5 inches (or 127mm) from one end and 3 inches (or 75mm) from bottom, I drill a hole 11.5mm Ø hole through an outer and middle cheek and just enough into the inner jaw to create a centre for the approx 2” drill. And I am sorry there is no photo.
Disassemble then drill
Now remove the outer and middle cheek to expose the inner cheek. It should have the start of a hole in it. Clamp together then drill through the two inside jaws with the 2” drill. Because your axle-bolts and tee-nuts may have different dimensions to mine, so your hole Ø may also differ.
Don’t worry if you have not such a big Ø drill – but do mark a circle to match the eye of your axle-bolt. You will then carve, chisel or rasp that away.
You need clearance for the axle. To get that clearance, you can
• insert a strip along the bottom or
• follow these comments & mark a line 3” from the bottom to connect the 2” Ø hole with the outside end.
Create a channel along this 3” line to accommodate the 12 mm Ø axle-bolt.
Do check the inner jaws will close when the axle bolt is in place.
Remove the axle bolts and clamp all the sheets back together checking that the alignment marks match. Repeat at the other end. With the 11.5 mm Ø bit, drill each end-hole and the 2 middle-holes all the way through the remaining jaws. The middle holes will be 322 mm from each other.
Before fixing tee-nuts, check each eyebolt will screw right through each tee-nut. If they jam you want to know before the tee nut is forced from the ply. In the UK I can cheaply find ⅜” eyebolts which often but not always match an M10 tee-nut – so you may need some cutting compound and you may need to run an M10 die along the ⅜” thread. Only hammer home the tee-nuts when you know their threads match the eyebolts.
Now pass the eyebolts through the vise and screw into the tee nuts. You need washers and stout plates like these.
Axle bolts – detail
If you have welding capability you’ll invent some similar fixing to those I show above. I prefer the pipe and 12 mm threaded bar because I don’t weld and cannot source ½” eyebolts of necessary length in UK. Dolly Chapman indicates you can in USA. Anything less than 12 mm Ø is just not enough – don’t be tempted to use your ⅜” or 10 mm eyebolts as axle bolts. I found they fail & strip their threads but only slowly enough to be REALLY frustrating. If you can source readymade ½” eyebolts then you need not drill the big 2” diameter hole all the way through the inner jaws. You just chisel or carve out enough relief on either jaw to accommodate your eyebolt.
Although I have spent some hours writing the above, I am aware I may not have expressed myself with total clarity and wish I had taken a few more images. Neither do I offer a list of materials because there are quite a few permutations. And I really want you to get using your saws that you have fettled. So if you have questions, do comment on this post and I’ll do my best to answer them.