Lake Erie Twin Screw Vice
Review and photos: Raf Nathan
The Moxon vice has been in use in woodwork shops for at least 400 years. Two long pieces of wood sandwich your workpiece and are tightened with threaded wood handles. Later developments use iron wheels that spin on metal threads. Apparently Joseph Moxon, who shows this style of vice in his Mechanick Exercises, printed in 1694, did not invent it, however the name has stuck.
Lake Erie Toolworks, USA was founded by Nick Dombrowski in 2008 and specialise in wood vice making. While attending college Nick worked at Organ Supply Industries as a machinist, then built keyboards and components. The antique workbench he used had wood vices and was the inspiration for LETW.
Sales were initially slow and in the meanwhile he completed a graduate degree in mechanical engineering. But the demand for vices grew and the business is now a full time concern. Nick does the majority of production and engineering with father Jeff also in production as well as marketing, and wife Rachel holding it all together as office manager.
The Twin Screw Moxon has two hard maple ‘cheeks’ and large 1-3/4" threaded handles fitting threaded holes. The cheeks are a substantial 105 x 46mm with a clamping capacity of 610mm and 107mm thick.
The handles are the big feature, beautifully made with three and a half threads per inch. When you see them you just have to touch them. Vices start as either custom sawn squares or dowels. Threads are first rough shaped and threaded oversize followed by a rest period of at least a few weeks before the final shaping, custom CNC threading and hand detailing is performed.
In use the low thread count means the handles are a bit slow to wind in and out when changing to workpieces of different thicknesses. However if you are working on say a batch of doors that all share the same thickness then it’s a snap to undo the handles a touch and reposition them.
I thought the fit of the handle thread was somewhat loose, however a looser thread fit in my dry winter means having no problems in the high humidity of the wet season. The vice arrives unfinished so applying a polish will help with stability.
To use the Moxon, first clamp the backing board to the top edge of your workbench then simply slip in the workpiece and tighten the handles. The Moxon easily holds things that would normally be fiddly to secure such as panels, cabinet doors and boards. This vice is a very handsome and useful addition to your workbench.
More information from www.lakeerietoolworks.com