Shop-built tail vice
My workbench has been needing a tail vice for years. The $180 Veritas
twin-screw tail vice is exactly what I wanted, but my budget did not
have room for it, so I opted for this shop-built solution.
I started with two 3/4" pipe clamps and a 36" pipe, threaded on both
ends. Combined with some scrap wood, screws, glue, hardware and a few
hours, I ended up with this:
The clamps came from Harbor Freight, on sale for $3.50ea. The pipe was
about $4. With the various screws, nuts, bolts and scraps, I figure I
came in well under $15 for this vice...and it works pretty well.
Of course, I've never had the pleasure of working on a Veritas
twin-screw vice. Previously, I was using a pair of small clamp-on
machinist vices...this is a BIG
improvement. Here is my first use: holding a bench stop for a planing operation:
The first problem to solve was a strong support for the vice. As shown
in the pictures, the tail vice was placed on an overhang at the end of
my bench...which consists of two layers of particleboard. This is not
particularly strong, so a sub-structure was required for rigidity.
Also, since the workbench top is replaced occasionally, I wanted to
minimize the effort of moving the vice to the new top. Here is what the
entire vice assembly looks like before installing below the benchtop
and here is the view from below:
In the above picture you can see the complete assembly. The top
(A) is a sheet of 1/2" plywood. This sides (B), back (C) and
clamp-support (D) are 3/4" plywood. The face-support blocks (E) are
1/2" plywood. Maple or some other hard-as-a-rock wood are popular
choices for the faces of the vice (stationary F, moveable G), but I
chose tulipwood (yellow poplar) because it is strong but relatively
soft, so it is less likely to scratch or dent my workpiece. The
stationary face (F) is the only part of the assembly that is not
glued...just screws for easy replacement in the future.
Note that there is several inches of pipe behind the rear part of the
pipe clamps. This allows the rear clamps to be moved back and the pipes
extended for greater vice capacity, as shown here:
The greatest difficulty of this project was how to attach the moveable
face to the clamps. I decided to drill the clamps for two bolts that
are countersunk in the face (you can see the 4 counter-sunk holes on
the face above). The nuts are visible in the photo below. The clamps
are made from a soft cast iron, which is easily drilled.
So far, I'm pleased with the
results. I've already used it for a number of clamping operations
and it has performed as expected.