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I Forge Iron

Ball Vice (mechanical pitch pot)


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Hey all, thought I would share a tool build (im gonna call it that so I can stop thinking about what category is most applicable for this thread....) that I completed and tested recently.


I just called it a 'ball vice' because every time I tell someone its a bowling ball engraving vice the response is invariably 'oh wow, you are engraving bowling balls now?'..... so to be clear: it is a vice, for engraving, built from a bowling ball.  not a vice for engraving bowling balls :)


that said, I know its not a new idea, I was inspired by a youtube video of a guy working off a very similar device which of course I cannot for the life of me find to reference again.  basically I wanted a pitch pot like device that was held on by bolts so I could avoid the whole torch and pitch part so it could be used in places outside of home that might not like flame and any smells from warming the pitch.  plus the base plate can be taken off and with the addition of a bolt on rib across the diagonal it can be used in my post vice for projects that might require a little more oomph in the hammer swing.  I don't have a sandbag or tire for it yet so I was just holding it in my lap/between my legs and despite some bounciness it worked very well :)


this was also my first attempt at a pineapple twist, which was 10 inches in length and pretty much every step (besides maybe flattening the ridges) had to be done in 3 heats so it was kind of challenging to get it uniform(ish).


started with a 16lb bowling ball that I got from a local alley for free, cut a big enough slice off with Porter Cable oscillating saw with a wood blade to score/start the cut, then finished the cut with my 12" hacksaw



drilled out holes for the bolts, cut the handle and welded it back together after inserting it into the ball, backfilled the handle holes and bolt holes with construction adhesive to fix the handle and bolts into place.



couple shots showing the mounting base plate with grid of countersunk holes to attach stuff to




for the test run I screwed a chunk of scrap lumber to the base plate and then screwed the test project (bottle opener forged from 1/8" by 1 1/4" flat bar) onto that and had at it with a curved engraving chisel I ground from a Tremont cut steel masonry nail





I could have also built it to accept a piece of wood directly, but the metal plate is more durable and can mount pretty much anything that can be screwed/bolted to it and because the base plate is only 1/4" thick I can keep the mounting bolts and wingnuts very low profile and below the working level of the piece.


im pretty happy with how it came out, still some machining to make a few more mounted clamps for it, but its operable :)

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Nice engraver's vise and use of a pineapple twist. A wheel barrow inner tube filled with sand is an excellent alternative to a shot bag, tire, etc. If you want to hold it in your lap a little silicone calking will help keep it from bouncing or shifting. Just a smear is all it takes, squeeze a dab on and smear it with a rag, let it dry and it's good to go.


Frosty The Lucky.

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Thanks guys, I figured it was an engravers vice, but like I said earlier, every time I say its a bowling ball engraving vice it is met with 'you engrave bowling balls?'


thanks for the tip on the non-slip texturing frosty, that will probably come in handy :)

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