The Ultimate Guide on How to Build a Woodworking Vise for Beginner Woodworkers


If you’re a beginner woodworker looking to build your own woodworking vise, you’ve come to the right place. A woodworking vise is an essential tool for any woodworker, as it enables you to securely grip, hold and work on your wood pieces during your projects. Plus, building your own woodworking vise gives you a sense of pride, accomplishment, and saves you money! With the right tools, materials, and steps, you’ll be able to build your own vise in no time. So, let’s get started!

Step 1: Gather the Tools and Materials Needed

Before you start building your woodworking vise, you’ll need to gather the following tools and materials:

  • A vise screw and nut – You can purchase this separately from specialty hardware stores or purchase an all-in-one kit.
  • Wood – Choose hardwood for the jaws and softwood for the backing board. The thickness of the wood should be around 1 inch.
  • Drill bits – One for the vise screw and two for the backing board.
  • Chisels – One for squaring off the wood and one for mortises.
  • Coping saw or Jigsaw – To cut out the shape of your vise jaw.
  • Clamps – To secure the wood pieces while you work on them.
  • Sandpaper – To smooth out and finish the wood.
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Step 2: Building the Vise Screw and Nut

The vise screw and nut form the backbone of your woodworking vise. Here are the steps to build them:

vise screw and nut

Step 2.1: Preparing the vise screw

Using a lathe or by hand, shape the end of the vise screw so that it can fit into the nut. Then thread the vise screw into the nut and test for proper fit. Apply some lubricant on the threads to make it easier to twist the nut onto the screw.

Step 2.2: Building the handle

Cut a handle from a scrap piece of wood, drill a hole in the middle to fit the vise screw, and attach it to the screw with glue, nails, or screws. You could also use a metal handle if you prefer.

Step 3: Building the Jaws and Backing Board

The next step is to build the jaws and the backing board. The jaws are the parts of the vise that will hold your wood pieces securely in place. Here’s what you need to do:

vise jaws

Step 3.1: Cutting the Jaws

Using a coping saw or jigsaw, cut out the shape of the jaws from a hardwood board. The jaws should be around 4 inches wide and around 12 inches long, and slightly shorter in length than your backing board.

Step 3.2: Preparing Mortises

Using a chisel, create two matching mortises on each jaw to fit the vise nut and screw. The mortises should be wide enough to accommodate the movement of the screw while it’s turned. Check that the screw sits tightly in the mortises before moving on.

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Step 3.3: Building the Backing Board

Cut a piece of softwood for your backing board. The backing board should be slightly longer than your jaws and around 6 inches wide. Drill two holes in the backing board, each 2 inches away from the edges and parallel to each other, to accommodate the vise screw.

Step 3.4: Assembling the Vise

Position your backing board between the jaws, with the vise screw through the first hole in the backing board and through the nut in one jaw. Slide the second jaw on the other side of the backing board, ensuring the vise screw goes through the nut in this jaw too.

vise backing board

Step 4: Finishing Touches

Finally, let’s finish up your vise:

Step 4.1: Sanding and Smoothing

Sand all surfaces of your vise with fine-grit sandpaper to smooth out any rough spots, and apply a coat of wood finish or sealant if you prefer.

Step 4.2: Test your Vise

Test your vise with different pieces of wood to check its holding strength and stability.

Step 4.3: Use and Maintain your Vise

Congratulations! You’ve successfully built your own woodworking vise. Remember to store your vise in a dry place, keep it clean, and apply some oil or lubricant on the moving parts from time to time.

finished vise


By following these steps, you now have a high-quality woodworking vise that you can customize and use as you wish. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different sizes, finishes, and materials to make your vise your own unique creation. Happy woodworking!

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