Saturday, May 22, 2010

Turn a Less-Than-Favorite Clamp into a Specialty Vice

I know I've seen this done before and might have even read about it online, but, hey, it came in very handy tonight so I'm sharing.

I have some inexpensive light-duty aluminum bar clamps.  I got them from a special deal at Lee-Valley, but it turns out they are remarkably similar to those found in Harbor Freight.  That said, if you don't have one, you can get it for a song (though singing in Harbor Freight isn't necessarily suggested...)

Foreshadowing: I'm making handles for a drawer front.  You can see the drawer front here from which 5 drawers will be cut.  Each handle is shaped with a rounded front, rounded edges, tapered sides.  That's a lot of shaping and cranking on the vice to hold it in place will only ding up what would otherwise be a (IMHO) very nice handle.

How I did the shaping is by clamping the handle in the bar clamp lengthwise like so.  You can see the bar is clamped to the bench with a quick-clamp.  Then have a lot of fun with a Veritas spokeshave (a delightful tool).

Normally the handles would just slip out of the metal pads, but I put a strip of 3M Safety Tape on each pad.  You can get cheaper safety tapes (like at Harbor Freight), but usually the 'grit' isn't very consistent.  Might be good enough for this.  I had the very nice 3M Safety Tape from a previous project so it was perfect.

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