Canajoharie Vice

I know I can’t satisfy implacable spelling watchdogs, but please accept my acknowledgement that the contrived blog post title makes use of the British spelling vice, whereas vise is the correct American spelling.

I am immoderately pleased with getting a stable vise in my shop for the first time since I’ve moved here.  My dad gave me an old Prentiss 522 bench vise.  It took some oiling to get the screw free, but with a little cleanup it served me well at our old house.  I’ve had it temporarily mounted on a rickety wooden table for the last four years, but I never could bear down on it as much as I needed because of the flimsy substructure.  This week I installed it on the (also new) welding table.

I started building the welding table and its appurtenances a few days before Christmas, with construction proceeding in small increments.  Finding time for projects like this is challenging.  Besides all the other competing urgent and beyond-urgent projects, the fact is that the workshop is an overcrowded, inhospitable place.  Much of the problem is due to my chronic inability to organize it in a sustainable fashion.  But it is a lot to ask of a small garage to function as place to house all the household and farm tools, supplies, repair parts, and spares for woodworking, metalworking, mechanical, fencing, masonry, plumbing, electrical projects.  The roof leaks in a couple places and the front floods under the garage doors during heavy rains or snowmelts.  Those problems could be fixed with roofing and drainage tile respectively, but on the list of priorities it never comes close to being addressed.  And then there’s the cold.  It is a hard place to spend an afternoon wrenching on rusty parts when the garage thermometer never gets near ten degrees.  I might put an old wood stove out there to make winter projects more bearable, but that involves a motivational dilemma:  it never seems important during the warm weather and it always seems too miserable of an undertaking when the weather is cold enough to warrant it.

This photo is the results of careful camera angle planning to avoid showing the piles of wood scraps on the floor.  I even swept up under the vise for this glamor shot.

This photo is the results of careful camera angle planning to avoid showing the piles of wood scraps on the floor. I even swept up under the vise for this glamor shot.

With all that whining to explain the glacial pace of my progress out of the way, allow me to show off the rig.  I used a standard trailer receiver hitch design to allow for a portable setup.  The vise is mounted on a 3/8″ plate bolted to a 2″x3/16″ square tube.  I might need to weld gussets from the plate to the tube, but presently it is just bolted in place.  By design receivers are a little sloppy to allow the tube to telescope inside, but I found that snugging a 5/8″ bolt through the hitch pin hole eliminated all the side-to-side movement.  To prevent top-to-bottom movement I tapped the receiver and threaded in a 3/8″-24 set screw.

The set screw is a little longer than I'd like, but it was in my

The set screw stands out taller than I’d like, but I used what I had on hand.  Also in the category of “making do” is that one bolt fixing the vise and mounting plate to the 2″ tube is actually a M12-1.75 with a 1/2″-13 nut threaded on. Yeah, I know…

My purposes in building the receiver hitch mount were threefold.  One was so I could remove the vise from the welding table if it gets in the way.  Another was that I wanted to be able to mount different fixtures to the table in the future; for instance, I’d like to build a similar hitch for a short section of railroad track I use an anvil.  Lastly, I wanted a way to attach the vise to the trailer hitch on the trucks or tractor.  There are plenty of situations where I’m fixing things a long way from home, so this should come in handy.

Testing it out on the truck.

Testing it out on the truck.

I’m not done with vises.  I’d like to find an old blacksmithing leg vise to have something I can beat on with impunity.  But having this tool back in service represents a welcome advance in my workshop productivity.

2 Comments on “Canajoharie Vice

  1. As a welder and small farm owner I was intrigued by your ideas for using the vice.I would definitely put angle irons on your garage setup for rigidity. Thanks for all the interesting posts on your farm.

    • Yes, I probably will weld on some bracing. I’ll let you know if I discover any major shortcomings with this design.

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