Saturday, May 11, 2013
An Etau for You
With Handworks only a couple weeks away, we wanted to bring something special to the event.
So we dusted off our old French tool catalogs and set to work designing an etau.
What is an etau? The word simply means "vise" (plural "etaux") in French. It's pronounced kind of like "hey-tow" but don't pronounce the "h". Say it without the southern drawl. (thanks to Louis Bois for the French lesson)
Sharing its basic form and function with French carver's chops, this etau clamps to any surface via two wooden C-clamps scabbed onto the sides of the rear jaw. This serves a couple purposes, in our opinion.
First, it allows a screw (serving as a fulcrum/parallel mechanism) to pass through the rear jaw down low, and be clear of the two C-clamp screws.
Secondly, it allows two points of contact with the bench, reducing the tendency for rotation that would normally happen with single-point clamping.
As you can see in the etau drawing above (from the La Forge Royale catalog) the jaw is kept parallel via a St. Peter's Cross instead of a screw.
Since the St. Peter's Cross eliminates the need for space behind the rear jaw, we thought we'd also trim off the C-Clamps. They serve no functional purposes beyond holding the vise to the bench.
A trimmer, more compact vise would also mean greater portability.
In our version we used a single mounting screw from below, coupled with two "arms" from above, which provides three-point clamping, reducing the tendency for rotation. Suede on the bottom of the arms and at the back of the rear jaw eliminates any movement. The vise is as rock solid as the surface its clamped to. The upper and lower arms are dadoed into the rear jaw.
Right now we're just enjoying the classic appeal of this vise. We'd like to make a run of them at some point, but we have several other new products we're working on at the moment that are ahead in the queue.
We'll have this vise in our space at Handworks.
To read more about the etau at the Chris Schwarz Blog, click here.