How to make a vise with a carpenter sergeant

How to make a workbench leg vise with a bar clamp

A bench vise is a clamping screw with a long vertical jaw parallel to one of the legs of the joiner's bench. It is a "contraption" that makes antique carpenter benches even more beautiful.

But apart from that, and from the curiosity I always felt about these front tightening screws, I never thought of installing one on my worktable. Also, I already have two clamping jaws: one homemade clamping jaw and one that I removed from another bank to install on my work table. But now that I have it I see how useful it is, as it allows me to comfortably hold long woods, and the wooden jaw area has more vertical space for tightening wider boards.

▷ How to make the wooden gag

Measure the height of the front clamping screw

To make the wooden jaw of this front clamping screw I am going to use a piece of pine wood 145mm wide by 70mm thick. I present the piece in front of one of the legs of my carpenter's bench and measure the length I need.


I cut the wooden gag to the length I just marked, and at the top I cut a decorative bevel that will also avoid hitting me with the corners that the gag would have there.

I reinforce the clamp by gluing a couple of pieces of Sapelly wood. And with a wooden block, I extend the clamp on the side of the workbench.

▷ How to prepare the carpenter's sergeant

Remove Woodworking Sergeant's Fixed Jaw

Now first of all, I'm going to prepare the metalworking sergeant. So with a hammer I hit the inside of the fixed jaw until I get it to come loose. You have to hit carefully, lest the hammer escape and hit my legs.

Modify the carpenter's metal sergeant jaw

I have to modify the hole of the fixed clamp. What I am going to do is enlarge the hole a little so that the metal bar slides in without problems. And also I'm going to give it the inclination, just as I drew on the paper that I glued on the metal clamp. This is how I am going to achieve that when pulling the metal bar backwards, this will grip the clamp and be locked.

File so the sergeant's bar slides and locks

It is time to use the file and patiently file to give it the necessary size and shape. As I said, I have to modify the hole, so that the sergeant's metal bar slides, but it also locks when necessary.

In addition, the metal bar of the carpentry sergeant has to go through this wooden clamp and the leg of the workbench. So after feeling around and measuring the position I need to put the metal sergeant in, I use the drill to drill the holes in the wood clamp and leg on the work table.

? Look how to improve cheap carpenter sergeants.

▷ How to make the guide adjustable

Adjustable Woodworking Front Screw Guide

In the front screws of the carpenter's benches, it is necessary to use some system that allows the wooden clamp to be kept vertical and parallel to the leg of the carpentry bench. This system must be able to be adjusted according to the thickness of the wood you need to hold with the front clamping screw.

Drill the holes in the adjustable front screw guides

To keep the clamp parallel, one option is to use adjustable guides. Typically drilled boards are used whose position is adjusted with a wooden pin depending on the piece of wood to be tightened. I am going to use a pair of boards of 390mm long by 70mm wide and 18mm thick in which I drill, with the help of the column drill, two rows of alternate holes of 15mm diameter.

To install the adjustable guides, I need to cut a couple of recesses in the lower part of the clamp, so that when I screw the adjustable guides, the separation between them is equal to the thickness of the joiner's bench leg.

▷ How to install the front vise

How to Install the Fixed Jaw Behind the Joiner Bench Leg

To install the clamping screw in the carpentry bench I have to put the one that was the fixed clamp of the metal carpenter's sergeant behind the leg. So I put that metal gag behind the wooden leg, making sure the sergeant's metal bar will bite in that position. And I wrap it around with 1cm strips of plywood to keep it in place.

Clamp the gag with a spike

And now the trick so that the metal clamp does not fall backwards, but is easy to put on and take off, is to use a simple spike. That way I can easily retrieve the metal sergeant, to continue using it as a regular carpenter sergeant, whenever I need it.

? More about carpenter's sergeants and gags.

▷ How to improve the front clamping screw

So far this front clamping screw works quite well, and thanks to the adjustable guide it stays parallel when you are pressing any part. But it does not move smoothly and parallel to the joiner bench leg. And although it does tighten well, you have to fight a bit with the sergeant to put it in place and tighten the screw. So we are going to see now some improvements that will make it work much better.

▷ How to improve the movement of the wooden clamp

Screwing wheels around the joiner bench leg

To improve the movement of the wooden clamp I will make the boards that I use as adjustable guides fit between small wheels. Therefore, I start by putting four wheels around the leg of the bench.

The problem is that when you put the wheels around the leg, the clamp is now too long and protrudes above the workbench surface. So I disassemble the adjustable guide, cut the wooden clamp with my saw jigsaw table, and I reinstall the adjustable guide.

? Watch how to do my homemade tabletop jigsaw.

Install wheels on top of adjusting guide

And I can already install another set of wheels on top of the adjustable guide. In this way I get the wooden clamp to slide easily and parallel to the leg of the workbench.

▷ How to improve the function of the sergeant

Screw in to tilt the metal clamp back

One of the problems of the metal sergeant is that sometimes the bar does not grip the metal clamp well behind the wooden leg. But it can be solved by putting a screw that protrudes a little just below the top tip of the metal clamp. So I get it to lean back slightly and bite the metal bar more easily.

Another problem is that the carpenter's sergeant's mobile jaw is that, mobile. And it would be better if he stayed fixed at that end of the metal bar. To achieve this I only have to drill a small hole in the metal bar, and I lock the clamp with a screw. So now when you grab the sergeant's handle and push it forward or pull it back, the metal bar will move with it as one piece.

▷ System to support long pieces

Drilling the holes in the drill press

What I call a system to support long pieces of wood is often called, if I'm not mistaken, a dead man. And it is that other perforated table, that we see in the middle of the side, in the carpenter's benches that have a frontal tightening screw installed. So I cut a board of the necessary length, and in the column drill I drill two rows of alternate holes.

To install this board, I was thinking of a system that would allow me to slide it along the side of the carpentry bench, but in the end I decided to leave it fixed and more or less centered. I drilled a few pocket holes in the four corners of the board, and put some hidden screws in it.

How to Attach a Long Board to the Joiner's Front Screw

With this system, now I just have to put a wooden rod in the hole at the height you need, and I can already support the longer boards and press them with the wooden clamp easily. We also see in the image the wooden rod, in the adjustable guide, at the bottom of the clamp.

Trick to hold a narrow table with the clamping screw

The holes in this table are alternate, but at the top I left two holes at the same height. So I can put two rods and a horizontal wooden block on top of them. With this simple trick I can I can hold the narrowest wooden slats, achieving that the upper edge is above the surface of the workbench.

How to hold a slant board in the clamping screw

The need to drill holes to the bottom is so that I can hold slats slanted. This is very useful when working on the head of the slats, for example to cut a wooden dowel.

Front clamping screw made with a sergeant

And here I have my front clamping screw made with a sergeant. An improvement for me workbench I think it will be very useful for me.

? Homemade gag made with things found in the workshop.


Related Posts

Go up