Finishing the Holy Roman Face Vise



I made up the maple hooky-looking vise nuts for the face vise today. I’m not completely happy with the final shape – the hook on the end needs to be more fish hook-y. But they work.

First I drilled a 23mm hole for each hooky nut in a maple blank, then I tapped each hole. After I confirmed the tapped holes were true and accurate, I drew their shape around each hole. Then I sawed them out and shaped them with a coarse rasp.


The chop for the vise is off-fall from cutting the notch in the benchtop. I planed up the chop (the inside face is purposely planed so it is slightly convex) and applied adhesive cork to the inside face of the chop and between the threaded screws glued to the benchtop.


Then I flipped the bench on its feet and have it a test run. No surprise: the vise worked as expected.

The vise screws poke out about 4” from the jaw of the vise, so I might need to ask Peter Follansbee to spoon-carve me a cup to wear while working at the bench. While I have no further plans to reproduce, I also don’t want to mangle my soft bits (like I did when reproducing Moxon’s face vise).


With the face vise working, I’m turning my attention to the end vise and the gorgeous hardware from blacksmith Peter Ross and Lake Erie Toolworks.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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22 Responses to Finishing the Holy Roman Face Vise

  1. Joshua Allen says:

    Oh, I see! Two screws. That makes sense. I tell you what, I had a Veritas twin screw vice and that thing was a bit of a nutbuster, too, so the more things change….

    The endvice looks cool. The metal bit on the bench is a dog, right? I’m eager to see the function of the rest of it.

  2. nordichomey says:

    Hummm. I would have to eat a bar of soap for cursing so much from ramming into those threaded rods.

  3. azezo1 says:

    You sure do go down some rabbit holes, but it’s fun to watch.

  4. ianwigle says:

    OK, I’ll bite. “…the inside face is purposely planed so it is convex. ”

    That has the vice applying clamping force on a line rather than across a face, no? What did I miss?


  5. Christopher
    What is your secret to take those beautiful pictures?
    The first two pics + the Instagram pic are gorgeous.

    • I can’t speak for all of his secrets, but I do know the light in his new shop is spectacular. It really is a nice place to work.

    • Thanks. Glad you like them. My “secrets” (if you can call them that) are:

      1. Diffuse backlighting.

      2. Composing elements on the diagonal.

      3. Shooting in full manual so I can control depth of field.

      4. Forcing myself to recompose every shot at least once to see if I can improve the composition.

  6. mjstauss says:

    Is there a secular version available? I kid. Looks great, can’t wait to see the end vise installed! Still trying to visualize how that one will work.

  7. Dave Reedy says:

    A Peter Follansbee carved cod-piece. Should be epic.

  8. The vise nuts look a bit like they are about to destroy the coast of Florida.

  9. I am really interested in seeing how that end vise will be fitted. I keep flopping on whether I want one on my Roubo. So far, I have gotten by without it. If I do it, it will be Lake Erie, all the way. Similar to Jeff Millers FORP bench would be the goal.

    • Justin,

      I don’t miss an end vise one bit. The only reason I’m putting one on this bench is to reproduce the original drawing.

      I honestly and truly prefer using holdfasts, battens and a doe’s foot for everything my planing stop cannot handle.

      • I think I do too, but occasionally I find a situation where it would be helpful. For instance, it is nice to carve a chair seat between dogs with a tail vise. I have only done this one time, and it was not at my bench. So, to carve more seats in the future, I need wrap my brain around that operation on my bench, without a tail vise.

        I am sure it will not be a problem and I will undoubtedly find an easy solution. But then I see pictures like yours of a tail vise and my wheels start turning again.

  10. Adam Haughey says:

    Can’t wait to see how this bench works out. I do have to wonder how much of a nuisance the hook ends of those vice nuts will be when they sit proud of the bench top like they do in the photo..

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