Building a simple carving vise.



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 © Clifton Sears
Hold your work at 0, 45, and 90 degrees, forward or backward, with full 360 degree rotation. Strong enough to withstand mallet and chisel carving. Can be made larger if needed.

How to build it:


pipe wrench
angle grinder for metal
screw driver


use steel pipe fittings for the base
pipe flange for 1/2" diameter pipe or
use a larger flange and a bushing down to 1/2" as shown here

The vertical riser is a 4" or 5" nipple 1/2" diameter

next comes a pipe 'T' 1/2"
and two close (short) nipples 1/2" ID
see image above

Now for a 1/2" x 1 1/2" bell reducing adapter.
It doesn't come with the gouges in the end. You have to make them.

Get a 5 - 6" long threaded eye bolt
(large enough for a 1/2" pipe nipple to pass through the eye)
a washer and nut to fit the bolt
When buying this I simply took a 1/2" nipple over to the eyebolt section and got one that fit.

For the part the screws onto the carving
use a 6" nipple or longer by 1/2" ID
with a 1/2" flange or use a 3/4" or 1" flange with appropriate bushing

You will need a thread locking product to lock the threaded joints in place.


Be sure to do a dry assembly first,
before adding any thread locking compound.


Insert a close nipple in each end of the 'T' and
insert the long nipple (vertical riser) into the bottom of the 'T'.
Screw the flange to the edge of a bench.

Add the assembled 'T'.
Attach the bell adapter to one end of the 'T'.

Use an angle grinder to make semi-circular indentations in the end of the bell adapter.
Start with the two vertical cut outs. Use the pipe that will hold the carving as a guide and shape the contour to roughly fit this pipe.
Next make a horizontal groove and then the 45 degree cuts.
If you feel you need more angles, make the grooves smaller and more will fit. This may not be quite as strong if you are using a mallet and chisel but it will do well for power carving.

Pass the threaded eyebolt through the adapter and 'T'.
Add the washer and nut. Once you are satisfied that everything is ready, take it apart, add thread locking compound, and tighten securely using a pipe wrench.

Carving attachment:

Apply thread locking compound and attach the pipe nipple into the flange.
Larger flanges are better for larger carvings.

Attach wood to be carved to the pipe flange and insert the pipe into the base. loosen the nut to turn the carving or angle it in the grooves you made in the bell adapter.

Make it stronger, for mallet and chisel, or for larger pieces by using larger pipe fittings. However on the back end of the 'T' use a bushing, instead of a close nipple, to keep the threaded eyebolt aligned to the center of the clamp.

Clamps and small vises can also be added for pieces you do not wish to attach with screws. Do this by bolting a flange to a purchased clamp. Add a 90 degree elbow if necessary. Specialty clamps for things like Christmas balls can also be added.

It may look awkward, but it is very versatile.

... a small hole in the wood face helps hold round things.
You could easily make or adapt shapes for other things.
It should be possible to add several types of clamps or small vises, with a little imagination.

Shop notes magazine also has notes on how to make a bench top vise that is well suited to carving needs.
Here is a link:
This is a little more complex to make, but I found it well worth the effort. I had a tail stock screw from a defunct boat shop that made wooden boats. It added to the usefulness of this system.
The face plates are easily changed as they are held in place by magnets.
Here is a picture of my own build, showing soft wood that has felt glued to the face plates.


Hope you find this helpful,
happy carving,