November 16, 2009

Never enough Vise

You can't make tiny metal parts without good holding devices. The photo above shows a little guide block I am building as part of my window latching system. The square part is a bead I found into which I have drilled another hole. In that hole I have soldered a piece of 1/32" brass rod that has been trimmed to length and will be filed into a point. The pointed rod pin will go into the window frame and help keep the guide block secured in position. A dab of superglue will secure the guide block to the window frame surface. The pin primarily keeps the block from shifting side to side when under pressure and also adds extra surface for the glue to grab onto.

I have to use a needle file to point the pin and also to remove oxidation from the soldering process. Hard to hold anything that tiny with fingers so I have it held in a pair of flat nose, smooth jaw parallel pliers. You can find them on the internet using that keyword description. When the pliers grip the jaws stay parallel along their length. That creates a good grip that is also a gentle grip and it won't scratch my piece. The pliers I am using allow for a long part to go right on through them which is another useful feature. Update: You can now purchase these pliers online direct from my favorite hardware store Hardwick's in Seattle. Click here to order them.
photo copyright Karin Corbin 2009

Another essential tool for making my window locks is a high quality bench vise. The vise on the right is called a pattern makers vise, the vise on the left is an Eron block vise. The long bar in the pattern maker's vise is a parallel which raises the object I am holding up to the height I need it to be but keeps the object squared to the surface and supported from underneath. I used that when drilling the hole in the bead to accept the pin.
photo copyright Karin Corbin 2009
These small vise are created to a high quality standard. The jaws are smooth on the inside. When you tighten them the jaws stay parallel to each other, that is essential for micro machining work. Cheap vises lift one of the jaws as you close them and you only get pressure at a small point when that happens. It will also gouge your work due to that shift out of parallel.

Another good feature is when working with them on the bench I can flip them around from one side to the other and still have a flat surface to rest on the bench. That lets me work on small parts from several different sides without moving the part in the vise.

Every year I add a few new quality items like good vises to my tool collection to help me make small metal parts. I have a Panavise but it just does not compare in ability to the pattern maker's vise for most tasks.