Questions answered – Vise toe-in issues

Hello again Paul.  

I have watched all your videos and so I know that you use a Record Vice and not a wooden leg vice as I do on my Roubo bench.  Nevertheless my son have been more inspired by you than any other woodworker, and so we decided to ask you for any suggestions you might have to solve the following problem.  After seeing a video on the St. Peter’s Cross, my son Nicholas and I rushed to try and make one.  We are not succeeding because when the top of the vice engages the workpiece, the bottom of the vice continues to move inwards, thus putting the vice out of parallel.

I do understand that you are a busy person, and the fact that you have replied to all my emails in the past are greatly appreciated.   We have started your basic course here in South Africa using your videos.  We have started using chisels much more than ever before and our woodworking in general has improved as a result.  We changed from pins 1st to tails 1st and cut dovetails like you teach.  Your method makes it easier to be more accurate. I even got a 2nd hand tool dealer in Devon to send me a pair of the Stanley marking knives you use, and I find them better than any I have tried including Chris Vesper’s and Blue Spruce’s.  Nicholas has even become a Spear & Jackson collector and even tried to restore a dovetail saw handle as you described in one of your blogs. So thank you for being such a great help and inspiration.

Warm Regards

Paul M

Many vises are made without the toe-in as you describe yours was. Generally, this may not be a problem until you clamp taller projects like boxes or thicker stock and, again, this may well not be an issue. The problem usually is that it can allow vibration when wood is being chiseled, planed or sawn or during other tasks too. Many replicated vises made by other makers copying the Record models with toe-in also include the toe-in feature, but many do not. I have had non-toe-in vises a couple of times and the solution is quite simple. Clamp a solid block of wood in the offending vise and clamp tightly. Measure the gap between the vise and the block on the moving jaw whilst the block is clamped tightly and at the same time check the gap between the fixed (rear) jaw and the block. If there is no gap, then the toe-in you have on the moving jaw is the toe-in extra you must somehow accommodate.  This simply means planing a taper to either face of the wooden jaw and bolting it back in place. The newly planed face must be planed flat and it is not harmful to add an additional 1/16” to add more toe-in.

Relocating the vise jaw should now enable the whole face of the jaw to engage as it does with built in toe-in.