Abstract The machining vibration of the flexible workpiece is a major factor that greatly affects the machining accuracy of the final part. Improper fixture layout is apt to generate the machining vibration, which will seriously affect the machining quality of the surface, especially for the flexible workpiece. This paper is concerned with suppressing the machining vibration of the flexible workpiece by designing appropriate fixture layout scheme. A dynamic model on the workpiece–fixture–cutter system is built, where the cutting force is used as the disturbance input, and the fixture element is used as the control input. On the basis of this model, an approach to fixture design is proposed and introduced, for the first time, to suppress the machining vibration of the flexible workpiece originating from the cutting forces. It is worth noting that the location, the applied forces and the number of fixture elements can be simultaneously optimized. The effectiveness of the proposed method is verified by a machining example.