Roman End Vise Installed (with a Frankenstein Assist)


The Holy Roman end vise is installed and functioning quite well, though at one point I thought I was going to curl under the bench and shed some Holy Roman tears.

After bashing out the slot and mortises for the end vise gear and then paring them true, I fit the two maple blocks that support the screw. One block is a vise nut. The other, at the end of the bench, acts like a bushing to support the screw. Both support the moving dog from below.

These had to be planed so everything was in the same plane, allowing the wooden screw to move without binding. The threaded vise nut is merely friction fit into its mortise. It needs to be easily adjustable so you can lower all the components after several flattenings of the benchtop.

The end block is lag bolted to the bench with two 5/16” x 5” Spax lags (I recommend you always pay the upcharge for Spax). When I need to lower the position of this block I’ll drill new holes for the Spax lags or make a new bushing.


Then came the fun part (I use the word “fun” ironically): Installing the metal screw that mates the wooden screw to the movable dog. This had to be screwed into the end of the vise screw with a lot of fuss. It had to be centered, and the hole needed to be dang vertical.

So I spent about an hour fussily boring a perfect pilot hole. Then chasing a clearance hole for the unthreaded section of the screw that was going to be buried in the screw. I cut threads in the pilot hole with a regular old steel screw. Then I lubricated the vise screw with some paraffin and drove the screw in.

And snap. Literally. Not like the kids say “snap.” The screw snapped about 1” below the rim of the hole.

After weighing about 100 options, I decided to use a 5/16” x 1” lag and washer to do the job temporarily until I could devise a solution that didn’t look so Mary Shelley.

Tomorrow I’ll drill the dog holes, make some nicer nuts for the face vise and do the “make pretty” so it’s presentable for Woodworking in America. If I’m lucky I’ll get to replace the wooden tommy bar for the end vise with a crank that Peter Ross made me. But time is running out.

— Christopher Schwarz

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8 Responses to Roman End Vise Installed (with a Frankenstein Assist)

  1. kendewitt608 says:

    Does the work “masochist’ ring a bell ?

    better you than me.


  2. momist says:

    Dang! (I think that’s the USA vernacular . . . )
    How on earth did the Romans do it then? (Spax does sound ancient, but I bet it’s not.)


    • kendewitt608 says:

      It is a brand of a German company that is only around since 1823.
      Google can find anything !


    • meanmna says:

      I would wager since the block with the lag screws in it is just a bushing and so may not have much stress on it (I think the nut is the one closer to the other side) that they may have just pinned it with pegs or moved it in just a bit in its own mortise and pinned that.


      • The drawings don’t show how that block is fastened. But they had screws in 1505. So it could have been screwed, pegged or friction fit. The method of fastening isn’t critical tot he function.


  3. kendewitt608 says:

    This bench project is starting to make a trip to the colosseum to discuss the menu with the the lions seem easy.


  4. Yes , The Spax screws won’t snap on you for sure. I’ve driven 6 inch Spax screws in hard Maple with no pilot hole and they didn’t break !


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