Specifications:

• Fully machined from steel components

• 2-3/16” diameter hub with integral spring plunger, Parkerized finish

• 15” handle assembly with central v-groove and leather shock washers, Parkerized finish

• 3-½” diameter flange, Parkerized finish

• Roll-threaded steel acme screw, 1” diameter with 4 tpi pitch, double lead (2 tpi equivalent, or ½” travel per turn) 16” of thread behind the flange

• 9” capacity typical installations

• 2-½” diameter one-piece acme nut

• Suede leather jaw liner included (for 8” wide chops)

• Designed and made in the USA

• Includes everything you need to build the vise, except wood

Installation Instructions - download
Classic Leg Vise FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Classic Leg Vise Blog Posts here
Leg vises
During the 18th century the leg vise was king. If a workbench didn't sport a European-style shoulder vise, chances are it had a leg vise. This was before the mass-produced iron face vise became common. Once this "Record-style" iron vise took over, the leg vise slowly disappeared, and it's a shame that it did. Leg vises offer greater workholding capabilities than iron vises. Without the two guide rods of the iron vise, workpieces can be held right up against the screw, virtually eliminating racking and providing a better overall grip. Iron face vises provide around 4" of workable depth from the top of the bench to the screw and guide rods. Leg vises are usually more than double this, around 9". Leg vises are also more powerful due to the large lever provided by the lower position of the parallel guide. Leg vises are also simpler and easier to maintain than iron vises. The auxiliary wood jaws necessary for iron vises are unnecessary with a leg vise since the vise itself, along with the bench's leg and top, forms the jaws of the vise.

Traditional leg vises work around a simple principle. A single screw passes through a moving jaw or "chop" and provides the clamping force. The screw engages a threaded hole (usually in the form of an attached nut) in the bench's leg. A means of preventing rack is provided at the opposite end from where the wood is held. Traditionally this is a perforated length of wood (the “parallel guide”) attached perpendicular to the chop at its lower end through which a pin is inserted, stopping the inward movement of the parallel guide at a position which matches the workpiece thickness. But other means have also been used, such as a second threaded rod, or a scissors-type mechanism known as the St. Peter's Cross (see our Crisscross.)

The Classic Leg Vise
In the 19th and early 20th century, many vocational schools and commercial shops in France and its colonies were outfitted with Roubo-style benches and metal leg vise hardware. French hardware is typically made entirely of metal, whereas hardware from Britain and America usually features a T-shaped iron casting fitted with a sliding wooden handle. We designed ours around the French model for better function and looks. Researching extant vises and benches, we discovered a number of features that have all but disappeared from modern vise manufacture. We’ve incorporated these, plus a few of our own, into the design of the Classic Leg Vise.

Double-lead Thread
Most modern vises use a single lead acme thread. Depending on pitch, these can function slowly, but with precision and control, or more quickly. Screw pitch and travel should be matched to the vise’s purpose. Fast isn’t necessarily better. Tapping and threading metal for double-lead screws is risky and costly, as the thread is very aggressive, and massive amounts of material must be removed.

Face vises are generally used for a relatively narrow range of thicknesses, but when used in wider positions, the convenience of opening the jaws quickly and efficiently is a plus. Ergonomics can accomplish this, as with the massive handwheel of our Glide Leg Vise, or speed, as in the case of the Classic, which uses a double-lead acme screw. The Classic moves as fast as typical wooden vise screws, ½” of travel per turn.

Radiused Hub and Flange
The mating surfaces of the flange and hub are machined to a 5” radius. This allows the parts to nest together and distribute clamping pressure over a wider area, especially when holding slightly non-parallel work.

Balanced Handle
The sliding handle is machined with a v-groove detent centered along its length. This detent engages with a stainless steel spring plunger in the center of the hub, allowing one to quickly center the handle and thus balance it to spin rapidly for quick, gross adjustments. In most cases, one can leave the handle centered after holding your workpiece. The spring plunger tension is adjustable. A tighter setting makes it easier and quicker to center up the handle, but may inhibit the handle from sliding as freely. There is a sweet spot that allows quick engaging with the spring plunger, and free sliding simultaneously. The plunger can be completely disengaged if desired. The spring plunger also allows repositioning of the handle so it’s not interfering with your work or your body. Leather shock washers further refine the handle’s function.

Parkerized Finish
The Classic is made from machined steel, but we wanted it to have the look of darkly patinated forged hardware. To get close to this (and not break the bank) we Parkerized the handle, hub and flange. Commonly used on high quality hunting rifles, Parkerizing (or Manganese Phosphate) is a process which darkens the raw steel, which is first sandblasted, while also providing wear resistance and lubricity. The process is more expensive than black oxide, yielding a more durable surface with an attractive dull black-gray look. A rub down with fine steel wood and a coat of light oil helps give the parts a vintage look, further lubricate, and provide excellent corrosion protection. See our installation instructions for further details.

The Crisscross
The Classic is designed to be used with the Benchcrafted Crisscross for best function. The Crisscross completely supports the weight of the Classic hardware and a wooden chop while completely eliminating the need to adjust a pin (parallel guide). With proper installation, the Classic with Crisscross operates with virtually zero friction.

Angled Leg Vises
The Classic Crisscross, or Classic Hardware Only will both work well for angled leg vises, as found on English-style workbenches. Because of the off-vertical forces placed on the Crisscross mechanism, you'll experience a slight reduction in friction-free action. The vise still moves freely in and out, just a bit less than a vertical leg vise. We don't recommend building your vise any more than 15 degrees off the vertical axis if using the Classic Crisscross.

Choosing Which Classic

Classic Crisscross Solo $294
Best choice if you’re building a new bench, or a high vise for use as an auxiliary leg vise.

Classic Crisscross Retro $334
Choose this if you’re retrofitting the Classic (w/ Crisscross) to an existing bench, or if you’d rather install the Retro’s mounting brackets instead of drilling deep holes for Solo mounting pins (see installation instructions for more differences between the Retro and Solo installs.)

Classic Hardware Only $195
Choose this if you’re building a leg vise with a traditional parallel guide. Examples include: extremely low benches (that can’t accommodate a Crisscross), angled leg vises and face vises as found on English-style benches, twin-screw vises, traditional all-wood tail vises (continental benches) or vises of your own design.