Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Make Your Leg Vise Even Better


No vise is perfect. There, I said it. Hard as it is to admit, even our vises don't excel in every area, just 99.999% of areas. If someone knows of a vise that does it all, please call me and we'll both patent it, count our $100's in one of those casino-style machines and shove off for the Bahamas in our new yacht.

Until then, here's a great way to make your Glide even more effortless.

A few weeks ago I was working with stock of several various thicknesses. This is where a leg vise isn't so quick. But it's a rare occurrence, one that happens infrequently, and thus, rare. So to make life easier I rooted through my shop junk drawer and remembered that right-to-left self-adhesive flexible rule that I mis-ordered a few years ago. It wasn't worth the shipping to return it, so into the boneyard it went.

I almost always know the thickness of the stock I'm working, so I thought, "why not make life easier by getting some of those numbers onto the parallel guide?"

So I placed the metal ruler onto the top edge of the parallel guide. Now I could position the chop right at the thickness of my stock, and insert the pin in the hole closest to the leg. Perfect! No thinking involved, no trial and error. Dial in the chop, position the pin, spin the wheel and away you go.


The metal ruler wasn't in place for long before I realized I had to do this right. The thing looked cheesy. Plus, it was right-to-left so the numbers were upside down. Dang, even after rescuing the thing its still worthless.

Out came Grandpa's number punch set and the edge of a card scraper. I set in the graduations with a light tap on the scraper after laying out the scale with a pencil. I didn't go nuts here, some of the graduations are a little off. We're not shooting for Starrett tolerances here. The nearest 1/4" is plenty good enough. Darken the incised lines and numbers with a fine-tip Sharpie.


To set the pin, advance the vise until the number corresponding to the thickness of your stock meets the front of the  leg. In this case, 1".


Now place your pin in the hole nearest the leg, or the hole just inside the mortise. Both will work, but you'll find what works best with your vise. That's it. No trial-and-error required. Quick, and effortless.


To figure out where to begin laying out the scale on the parallel guide, get a board of a known thickness (1" is a good size, but any thickness will work) and place the pin in the parallel guide for that thickness. Clamp it up to confirm your pin position. If its good, reach down with a pencil and draw a line across the top edge of the parallel guide where it enters the leg. This will be your 1" line on your scale (or 2", or whatever thickness piece you clamped). Now you can layout the rest of the scale from this 1" mark.

Try it. It took me less time to do this than to write this blog post.

1 comment:

  1. I took a thin sharpie and wrote the dimension next to the hole... not every hole but enough to let me estimate the in between holes. I did this so when I lean down to insert the pin I can pick my hole quickly.
    SFPaul

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