Well, it was a dark and stormy night and I was looking for a project to work on (I do so enjoy making short boards out of long boards) as I casually leafed through the Cabela's catalog... something I should not do without adult supervision. Given the weather, an ark seemed appropriate, but while I was contemplating how I would get it out of my workshop, I came across the ad below.

$62.99! Hell, I can build it cheaper than that! I won't share with you how many times that attitude has gotten me in trouble but this time it turned out reasonably well.  Incidentally, I'm not the only one to ever have this epiphany so if you build one, whether it's using the plans that follow or your own creation, send me a picture and your notes and we'll post 'em here.

Gary Lillmars made several vises. His photos and his notes are here.

Steve, who wishes to remain anonymous, has produced a variant that he shares here.

Dave Duchaj produced this vise.

Who knows maybe this site will turn into the central depository for home built gun cleaning vises.

OK, here's the ad:


Hardwood Gun Vise Redesigned for maximum convenience, Cabela's Gun Vise securely, solidly and safely holds your rifle or shotgun for maintenance, cleaning, bore-sighting, sight and scope installation, stock inletting, glass bedding any operation that calls for a solid work station that treats a rifle or shotgun with tender loving care. The ingenious cam-operated vise clamps your gun into a solid, easy-to-work-on position. Leather padding at all contact points protect from any possibility of marring or damage. Full-length work tray catches falling parts and keeps tools handy. Plus, four circular compartments are ideal for holding solvent bottles, patches, small parts, etc. Made of beautifully finished hardwood with brass screws. Non-skid feet protect bench from damage. Handcrafted in USA. Not designed for shooting. Base dimensions: 27-3/4"L x 8"W x 7-1/2"H. - $62.99


That's Cabela's version.   Here's mine:


You can probably figure out how to make your own gun vise just from looking at the pictures.  Still, here's a few notes:

  • With the exception of a piece of 7 " by 26" scrap " plywood, I built the entire piece from a 6' x 1" x 8" poplar board (although I did have to glue up some scraps).  It's hard to believe that board cost $17.  Forget gold. Invest in lumber!  On top of all that the 6' x 1" x 8" poplar board becomes 6' x " x 7" by the time you get it home but all you woodworkers knew that.

  • The front and rear gun rests are not aligned along the center line of the base. (see figure - 2, below)  Rather they are offset to one side both to allow for the positioning of the gun butt cam lock system and for the holes in the base to hold the large aerosol cans of cleaning materials.  All of the aerosol cans that I use fit in 2" holes in the base.
                 Front View                                          Rear View

  • The front and rear end pieces are fastened to the base with butt joints using wood glue and countersunk  #8 x 1" wood screws.  If you want to make it a work of art, I suggest you fasten the front and rear pieces with dovetail joints.  Just remember, that it's still just a piece of cleaning equipment.  

    The semicircle cut out of the front piece has a 2" diameter.

  • The base may be laid out however you want.  Mine is shown in figure #2, below.

  • The only critical part of the construction of the vise is the cam lock system..  A photo of my cam lock is shown below and a detailed layout is shown in figure #1 (superimposed on a " grid).

            Cam Lock System

  • There are numerous ways that one can design the cam lock system.  First, to provide enough surface area for the vise to grip something other than just a gun's recoil pad, the three pieces comprising the cam lock system are all made from two pieces of " scrap glued together to make 1" stock.

    The cam that I made is simply a 2" circle with a handle.  The pivot point was drilled a little less than " above the center of the 2" circle.  This results in the action shown below:

    Note that with this configuration that the maximum force that will be applied occurs after the cam is rotated 90.  This worked for me but you might want to experiment with slightly different shaped cams.  It ain't rocket science but it does require a little bit of thought.  In any event, I strongly recommend "mocking up" your layout with scrap material prior to committing your wood to the blade.

  • " x 3" bolts are used at the two pivot points, with nylon fender washers in between the wood pieces and fender washers and wing nuts on the outside of the rear end piece.  I put lock washers as well as "regular" washers on the inside of the vise but have no idea if they're necessary... just seemed like a good idea at the time

  • The side rails are just " x 1" scrap.  Mine are just glued on.  Gotta love modern woodworking glues!

  • Add felt or leather to the front and rear gun rests.

  • Oh yeah, and go and put some rubber baby buggy bumpers on the bottom to keep it from sliding all over your work bench.

  • So go clean your gun already!


Figure - 1, Gun Vise Cam System

Figure - 2, Gun Vise Base Layout