Building an Al Breed Carving Vise


Leon Gauvreau

What a beautiful presentation!!! Thank you very much for sharing it. It not only is very usefull but looks like alot of fun to make.


Well-known member
Steve- Thanks for the very nice write up of the ball and class and the vise info. One important thing you left out( I think) on the vise is that the tailstock end should have a half circle of 60 grit stick-on sanding disc stuck to it. The pin in the tail simply keeps the workpiece from dropping when you loosen the vise to spin it. Tightening the vise squeezes the work against the sandpaper and prevents it from moving while you carve.
Great photos and nice writing- thanks for documenting all your work-Al

John Cashman

Well-known member
I had taken a ball and claw class at three different schools, and while they were all great in their own way, Al's was easily the best. I learned to carve three distinct feet, saw demos on a couple more, and most important, Al's method allows you to duplicate carvings on your own much easier. And the carving vise Steve shows was a revelation. No more pipe or bar clamps! I made one just like Steve's after the class, and it is a wonderful device.

I kept more to Al's dimensions, and am very happy. I also thought about making more of a point on the veneer-press screw, but left it as is. I was afraid that having too much of a point might result in split feet. I also added a piece of dimensional lumber inside the "bed" to stiffen it a bit. The only other modification I made was drilling a 2-3/4" hole to the left of the tailstock. It makes a handy cup holder. Hey, how are you gonna market these without a cupholder?


Well-known member
John- As it turns out, the flattish machined point that is left after you remove the pad that comes with the screw is a perfect point to hold the work. If it were any flatter it wouldn't hold, and any more pointy and it would probably split the wood, as you suspected.-Al

Steve Branam

Active member
Hmm, I'll have to try some tests with cherry and mahogany to see if the sharpened point causes any splitting. If it turns out I sharpened it too much, I can swap out the press screw for carving use (or just regrind it back to original shape). Or maybe get triple use out of this as a carving vise, bow lathe, and log-splitter!