First Look – MKII Wagon Vice

by | Feb 8, 2013 | 10 comments

Our wagon vice has been undergoing a bit of a make over and today I’d like to share the first photo of the prototype.

The handle, its most recognisable feature remains the same. I’ve always loved it’s balance and size and certainly didn’t want to loose any of it’s aesthetic through change. So many of our tools are beautifully made and a pleasure to both use and admire and I aim for the same with this vice, vices are often too cold and rough! The peened bronze mixed with aged steel and walnut maintains a lovely handmade touch whilst the remaining components are now made on top of the range CNC mills (you wouldn’t believe how many zeros are on the price tag of these things!) to give absolute precision.

The changes have been possible since we’re now requiring a much larger quantity of vices than we’d first anticipated. We stumbled upon a fantastic engineering firm right on our doorstep (its literally two minutes walk) and so we’ve gone through each stage of the design with an engineer who’s just as enthusiastic for his work as we are. We’ve been able to achieve a couple of tweaks that we’d be wanting to do from the off.

Update: At the present time we’re not building any workbenches or vices for sale, however we have many resources on this website that will help guide you with your own workbench build.

Our English Workbench Video Series takes you step by step through a traditional bench build, starting out with a discussion on choosing the ideal dimensions, demonstrations of how to cut the joinery, right through to flattening your workbench top and building the face vice from scratch.

If you’d like us to guide you through your build with detailed videos and PDF plans, then you can find full details for this Workbench Series here.

The thickness has been reduced right down to keep the under workings of the vice as discreet as possible. It had always annoyed me to have such a beautiful handle and then allow so much of the mechanism to be visible at the underside of the workbench.

We’ve also incorporated a ‘support platform’ on the moving carriage that sits directly under the screw thread and ensures the thread remains level all the way along it’s travel and doesn’t ‘drop’. This might seem picky but it’s amazing just how smooth and consistent you can get the action by adding this.

Together with the engineer we’ve gone to the ‘nth’ degree with all tolerances to get the feel just right. When you’re going to this extreme the slightest change in a measurement can make a huge difference. We’ve put versions of the vice in super cold conditions (not hard at the moment!) as well as warm and the movement in the material can noticeable affect things if the tolerances are too tight.

With the prototype approved the first run of vices are now under way and these will see some additional finishing. We’ll let you see some detailed photos once we have them assembled.

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About Richard Maguire

About Richard Maguire

As a professional hand tool woodworker, Richard found hand tools to be the far more efficient solution for a one man workshop. Richard runs 'The English Woodworker' as an online resource and video education for those looking for a fuss free approach to building fine furniture by hand. Learn More About Richard & The English Woodworker.


  1. Ben Plewes

    This looks fantastic Richard – first class as usual.

    Do you reckon I could retro fit one of these to the Roubo you built me a few years back?

    • Richard

      Greetings stranger! I’m pretty sure it could be, I’ll have a look over the drawings.
      By the way, cracking videos on your website. Are there any more coming soon?

      • Ben Plewes

        Cheers Richard. Not that there’s anything wrong with the existing wagon vice. I’ve trimmed the block once after some seasonal expansion and often lubricate the sides with candle wax, and it works very well indeed – it’ll probably outlast me! This prototype of yours though, it just looks so beautifully engineered.

        Hope to get some new vids up on the site soon, just as soon as I can find a spare 5 mins…

  2. Ken

    Vice is a winner Richard, great to see everything coming together buddy. 🙂

    • Richard

      Thanks Ken

  3. Alex

    Looks really great Richard, I cant wait to be able to buy one, any idea when it will be available as a left hand version? Helen said that I could order the current version left handed, but I would really like to wait for the new version if its not going to be too long.

    • Richard

      Hi Alex, We’re waiting for the first lot of right handed vices to be completed and will then immediately get on with the left hand ones. I wouldn’t like to give you a date just yet but as soon as we have something rough I’ll let you know.
      Thanks, Richard

  4. Charles

    That certainly looks much better than a supplier’s competing wagon vice that often leaves a large section of the plate visible on the finished bench. Good work.

  5. Stephen

    Richard, i just wanted to say that the woodworking community and all these blogs is a wonderfully constructive thing, by sharing and discussing these matters design considerations and therefore tool history changes with it for some of the reasons you’re pointing out regarding the wagon vice.

    I often wonder looking back in history to the glory days of vast numbers of engineering workshops and smaller bench makers whether they had this degree of close relationship with those people who purchased and used their tools and benches….it is of course so important to know what matters and i think you’ve hit the bench nail on the head many times, long may it continue…..time to make a bench nail hammer..ha!

    • Richard

      Much appreciated Steve, I think that blogs could proove a great source for future historians, that’s if it’s all still available to view!


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