New 5 Inch Diameter Handwheel for Wagon Vise

We have finally added the 5″ handwheel to the website. This smaller handwheel is specifically for the wagon vise and is just like the larger 8″ diameter wheel used with the VX20 leg vise and the VX20F face vise.

Small Handwheel Cmpressed

The 5″ handwheel comes with a quick release pin with a large split ring and also includes a smaller split ring which is less obtrusive.

Large Handwheel

The large 8″ handwheel shown above also now includes the smaller split ring which may be installed on the quick release pin. The smaller split ring may be used if you don’t need to remove the handwheel very often as it make removing the quick release pin more difficult.

Additional Information on the VX20W Wagon Vise

I have received many comments and questions about our new wagon vise. This might turn out to be our most popular vise! The dog block for the VX20W vise mechanism simply bolts to the side with four 1/4″ diameter hex head cap screws that are counter-bored into the dog block.

VX20W Dog Block Mounting

It is designed for a 1-3/4″ thick dog block but a thinner dog block may be used if you substitute shorter bolts (the dog block pictured is 1-3/8″ thick). A dog block thicker than 1-3/4′ simply requires deeper counter-bored holes. The dog block may use round dogs or it can be made to accept a rectangular dog.

VX20W Installed

When I make new vises I always test them in a small test bench before I put them in an actual bench. This makes it much easier to check the operation and make changes if necessary. I made this test bench out of construction grade lumber which I air dried in my shop for a couple of weeks before milling it. The above picture shows how the vise mounts in a cavity in the bottom of the bench. The dog block protrudes into the slot on the right. For best performance the bench top cavity should reduce the bench top thickness to about 2″ in the area where the vise operates.

VX20W Rear Bearing Bracket Mounted

The rear bearing mounts to the bottom of the benchtop using this stout bracket. The hole in the bracket allows the slot length to be customized to a shorter length as desired by allowing the shaft to protrude through.

VX20W End Cap Bearing & Collar

A Delrin bearing screwed to the end cap supports the front of the shaft. The extra large shaft collar and thrust bearings transmit the load. With the VX20W you will have the option of a wooden hub and handle or a small 5″ diameter metal hand wheel that matches the large 8″ metal hand wheel used with the face and leg vises. I don’t yet have the small hand wheel up on the website but I hope to have it done soon.

VX20W With Dog BlockVX20W End Cap View


Say Hello To The New VX20W Wagon Vise


We are really excited to show the first images of the new VX20W quick action wagon vise. I wish this new vise was not hidden under the bench because I think it looks pretty cool! We have made a lot of refinements and improvements with this new vise. The housing is very small and is totally enclosed to keep the sawdust out.


The four bolts protruding from the side of the housing are used to mount the wooden dog block to the housing. The dog block will then extend up to bench top height through a slot.

This vise will be very easy to install. The rear of the shaft will ride in a delrin bearing mounted to the bottom of the bench top with a sturdy bracket.


The front of the shaft is supported with a Delrin bearing mounted to the outside of the bench end cap. The shaft protrudes through this bearing and your choice of metal hand wheel or wooden hub and handle will ride against this bearing.


The thrust load of the vise is transmitted into the end cap through a heavy duty thrust collar and large bronze thrust bearing. The thrust bearing is oil impregnated to provide low friction operation.


I hope to have an installation video of the VX20W completed soon so you can see how it will all go together and operate.

New Rack Bar

Rack Bar

The improved face vise will feature a new rack bar which will replace the old style transfer bar. This is just the bar that connects the two vise mechanisms. The new rack bar is actually two separate parts joined together with slots and bolts. This arrangement allows the rack bar to adjust infinitely to whatever clamp shaft center to center spacing you have. Additionally, this adjustability allows the two clamping mechanisms to be very precisely synchronized for very quick clamping action. It also allows each individual clamp assembly to be installed alone without a cumbersome transfer bar to deal with. One other smaller benefit is in shipping. Being able to reduce the size of the packaging will result in lower shipping costs.

As much as I would have liked to have just one size rack bar that fits all, it just was not feasible. The rack bar will be available in three sizes; long, medium and short. The long size will allow center to center spacing of 22 to 25 inches. The medium size will allow center to center spacing of 19 to 21-15/16” and the short size will cover spacing from 16 to 18-15/16”.

The YouTube video in the following link shows the rack bar in more detail and also shows the new wooden threaded handle and knobs.



We Can Do Threads Too!

010 (2)

We are known for our screw-less vises but that doesn’t mean we can’t do threads. One of the improvements we are doing is adding threaded knobs to our handles! This is a little more work for us but it will be worth it. The threaded knobs will end problems with wood movement causing the knob to come loose. Our threads are precisely machined for a very close fit and we have added leather bolsters which serve two purposes. They dampen the hit of the knob against the hub and they help prevent the knob from loosening. We also think they create a very attractive look, especially compared to the previous black O – rings.

012 (2)

023 (2)


The leather bolsters are trapped between the handle shoulder and the knob so they don’t slide around. The knobs have generous radiused ends and are made from hard maple as are the handles.

011 (2)

We have also made some small improvements to the hub. We have added a little bit of material to the nose of the hub to strengthen it and have created a more generous radius on the nose to improve the appearance. The hub will still be made from solid maple.

003 (2)

We think they make a very attractive pair! Please let us know what you think of our new threaded handle and knobs and stay tuned to this blog for further announcements about our new vises.


Change is Coming

Top Secret

We have been busy at work in the research and development laboratory at Hovarter Custom Vise. We are so far along in the development of some exciting new products that we have decided to stop producing the old version of the face vise and wagon vise to give us time to begin producing the new versions. Although we can’t disclose all of the details of the new vises we can give you some general information.

Face Vises: The quick action function of the face vises will remain the same. The installation will be simplified even more and new improvements will make adjustment very easy. The face vise hardware will be sold separately from the handle because a hand wheel will now be an option. The force required to turn the hand wheel will be reduced for ease of use. The wooden hub and hand wheels will also feature quick release pins to allow the vise jaw to be easily removed if desired.

Wagon Vise: The wagon vise quick action feature will remain the same. Installation will also be simplified as well as adjustments. One of the biggest changes is the footprint of the vise. The new wagon vise will occupy 75% less area than the old vise! This will make it easier if you would like to recess the vise into the bench top. Additionally, the new wagon vise will have options of the wooden hub and handle or a hand wheel that will match the larger face vise or VX20 hand wheel.

For both vises we have developed ways to reduce shipping costs to you. Although not as exciting as the vise improvements, we are always looking for ways to reduce the cost to the consumer.

There are many other new things coming but we don’t want to spoil the surprise! Keep an eye on this blog for additional information and unveiling of these new products!

More About the X Link

X Link

I have finally gotten the first production X Link’s ready for shipment. Shown in the picture above is the X Link in black anodized finish. The 3/8″ diameter pivot pins are shown to the left and the shiney plates to the right are the wear plates. Some of the features and advantages of the X Link are described below and a YouTube video showing these features may be viewed by clicking on the link below.

The pivot pin for the X Link screws into one of the links and has a ground shoulder which pivots in a hole in the other link. This reduces the amount of play because the threaded connection has no play and the ground diameter of the pivot pin allows for a very close fit to the hole. Additionally the height of the pivot pin is very precise to prevent side to side movement. The link is CNC machined to hold the side to side movement to just a few thousandths of an inch.

One of the biggest advantages of the new X Link is the use of a spherical bearing for the pivot in the jaw. Spherical bearings have been used for years in race cars, helicopters and many other devices. It’s about time they see some use in woodworking vises! The spherical bearing in this application allows a very tight clearance between the pivot pin and the link while allowing the joint to pivot. This makes installation much easier because the drilled hole for the pivot pin does not have to be so precisely perpendicular. You could drill the hole at a 15 degree angle and it would still work! The other advantage of the spherical bearing is that it prevents binding and allows the jaw to move slightly to adjust to slightly out of square work.

An optional drill guide and extra long drill bit make drilling the pivot holes easy and precise. The drill guide aligns with the edge of the jaw or leg to automatically give you the proper setback. When clamped to the leg or jaw it allows you to precisely drill the pivot hole in stock up to 9″ wide without a drill press!

Check out a video showing all these features:

X Link Features on YouTube




Router Template

I have a customer in Italy who purchased a VX 20 vise. He was having trouble finding the correct size drill bits to install the vise. There are no equivalent metric Forstner bits near the 2-1/2″ and 1-3/4″ sizes. We decided that the best approach would be to initially drill the vise parts with a 1-1/8″ Forstner bit and then open the holes up using a plunge router with a template bearing. There is a metric size drill bit very close to the 1-1/8″ diameter Forstner. My customer had an 8mm router bit and a 21 mm template guide bushing so I created a router guide template that will allow him to make the appropriate size holes.


The template (shown with a delrin front bearing and constraint washer for size comparison) is made from high density polyethylene which is rigid, smooth and machines beautifully.

To use the template you would drill a through hole using the 1-1/8″ Forstner bit and then clamp the template to your work with the hole centered on the drilled hole. You would then use a plunge router set to the proper depth to open up the hole.

My thought is that I would offer a template like this for metric and American size router bits and charge a small deposit fee for the template which would be refunded when the template was returned by mail. This would not be feasible outside the U.S. so I could also offer them for sale. The holes in the template would of course be sized for common router bit and template guide bushing sizes.

If you have any thoughts on this I would really like to hear from you.


VX 20 Fully Dressed

VX 20 Fully Dressed

Here is the VX 20 all dressed out in new production colors! I am really happy with how it came out and I hope you are too. I always love seeing the rough machined parts make the transition to finished parts. The aircraft aluminum housing parts are first vibratory tumbled to ease all the edges and produce a very uniform surface for finishing. We then send the parts out to our local anodizer. Anodizing provides a very durable good looking corrosion resistant finish. We still have a lot of work to do to produce all the internal parts which make the VX 20 operate but we are very close now.

Introducing the X Link

X Link Far

The X Link is my adaptation of the nineteenth century scissors mechanism used with a leg vise to eliminate the need for a pin in the lower guide board. I have used modern materials and have added improvements to make it function better and ease installation. The X Link is shown used with the VX 20 vise mechanism to create a  quick action pinless leg vise. Here is a link to a YouTube video of the vise in action:

X Link YouTube Video

The X Link mechanism is designed to provide exact parallelism between the vise jaw and the vise leg. In practice however the vise jaw should be angled slightly so the top of the jaw contacts the workpiece first and clamping pressure deflects the mechanism slightly and makes the jaw parallel to the leg. Ideally this deflection should be kept to a minimum for best operation. In the video the jaw is spaced out at the lower jaw link end by only 0.040″ which is about 3/64″. This is accomplished by adding a shim to the mechanism. This small amount of deflection is easily accommodated by the VX 20 mechanism and full clamping pressure is applied in a half turn of the handle.

X Link Close

The X Link mechanism is housed in a mortise which is only 16″ long and 1″ wide. The jaw is 2-1/8″ thick and 5-1/2″ wide. In a future post I will disclose more details about the mechanism and some of the unique features which make it operate with minimal deflection and allow simpler installation.