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I Forge Iron

Vise Build early work


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Hi All,


I am working on making a large vise for smithing.  I got a bug to make my own screw and nut by semi-traditional means, hence this involves winding a 1.5" diameter rod with 3/16 keystock, paired up so as it is wound, the threads for the nut are created too.  I am doing this with my smithing mentor and we are learning as we go.  I welded a guide to the rod to help get the pitch correct and tacked the ends of the two 3/16 keystock pieces so they would rest against the guide.  Wrapping was done with two people working in tandem with an oxypropane torch and a hammer with the form rod held upright in a vise.  It was tricky getting the helices separated and off the rod..it required some hammering in a swage block to slightly expand the coils so they would "slip" off the rod, as well as some precision prying with a screwdriver. Still much more to do. 


In the photos I show the fully wound coils on the form rod.  The nasty looking bump on the right side is a splice that I mig welded in so as additional 3 foot pair of keystock rods could be added to the coil to reach a full 9" wrapped length.  The splice was a piece of heavy gauge sheet steel intended to bolster the butt-welded keystock during the wrapping process.  The other photo shows the two coils separated from the guide rod.  One coil will be cut in half and forge brazed into a pipe for the nut, the other half will be spliced onto the longer coil and this will be brazed on to a support rod for the screw.


The vise leg and moving arm are made of 4" steel channel and the jaws started from 2 x 2 x 8" mild steel that I machined on a mill.  I have welded up the jaws into the channel and learned I am a better grinder than welder. I hope to change that someday :)  I will send up more pictures after this weekend.  I am enjoying the journey.  The vise is less important..as has been pointed out.. I could have bought a decent used post vise already :))


post-46507-0-97785800-1388856732_thumb.j  post-46507-0-92768300-1388856745_thumb.j




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Great project!


The coils look really good.


Its nice to see somone take on the challenge of building a complete vise screw and box from scratch!


It should work fine. I forge brazed a male thread once and it worked out just fine. This was to replace a missing male screw. I had the existing female box with thread.


You should have no trouble brazing the male. 


One suggestion that may help is to be sure that there is some space between each of the coils. So, if you used 3/16 key stock. Stretch the coil slightly so the gap between each coil is greater than 3/16. This will help leave some room for any irregularities once both are brazed in place.


Really looking forward to seeing your progress!


Best of luck!



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Very impressive work.  Like you said, the experience of the build is valuable and will pay off dividends down the road with future projects.


I'm curious about the length of throw you're looking for in the vise, however.  You already have 9" of thread for the male screw and you want to add on to that?  Did I read that right?  That would mean that you want to have your vise open to a full 9" and still have 4.5" of male thread in the 4.5" box.  

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If, after you get it brazed and assembled, you find it a bit rough, go get some valve lapping compound from you aiutomotive parts house and grease the treads with it. It's abrasive in grease, after you have lapped the treads washit out with salvent and reassemble with a good grease, or a dry lube (it's a grafite paint, doesn't attract dust) dri-slide is one brand, tractor supply caries it.

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Vaughn thanks for your comments.  The length of throw would not need to be much more than a few inches..but..having a longer screw may be advantageous in terms of what is yet to come..parts of the screw may be better than others..who knows..it just seemed like a good idea to use the extra coil for that.  maybe it will become "practice"!  Seems a lot of fiddling around will be happening.  Charles that sounds like a great suggestion thank you; today we also talked about running a small wire wheel along the threads to clean out flux and loose stuff.  It looks like the next step will be to learn to forge braze on scraps that increasingly start to look like what I really want to braze so the odds are a bit better.

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Good point on the "oops" factor, Nicole.  I'm really bad about not visualizing that part of the equation and it bites me in the butt more often than not.  Better to have too much than too little!


Regarding the lapping compound, I don't know how well it would work without several hundred cycles of opening and closing the vise.  The lapping compound isn't very abrasive and you won't have much resistance between the male and female threads.  It's basically sandpaper, but sandpaper works best because you have pressure applied to it.  The less the pressure, the less the sanding.  It sure wouldn't hurt to use it and try to mate the surfaces, but I don't know how well it would work.


Having said all that, it would take decades of daily use to wear down the thread to any measurable degree.  A 4.5" screw box would offer plenty of support, especially when considering the size of the stock being used to make the screw threads.  I've never seen a vise with 3/16" acme thread!


Were it I, I'd build the thing, then apply a heavy grease to the threads..... and add some crushed scale to the grease to fill the voids between the male and female parts.  The aggregate would acts as a coarse sandpaper or lapping compound and smooth things out as you use the vise, and in a year or so you could clean it all out and apply a light oil.

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I like the idea of lapping with crushed scale and grease!  As far as the strength of the system we are somewhat worried about that..hopefully with practice a technique will be developed that does a good job with minimal excess to clean.  We will give the threads a torture test and if they don't bust, I guess it will be "OK"

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You can save yourself some wear and tear on your arm if you tack weld a short length of rod to your male threaded rod and use a drill to run it in and out a bunch of times doing the lapping. After you get it lapped in the way you want, just cut off the rod, file and install your handle.

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Posted · Hidden by jeremy k, February 18, 2014 - No reason given
Hidden by jeremy k, February 18, 2014 - No reason given

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  • 1 month later...

Well strike one for forge brazing.  We took one set of wound threads and tack welded it onto the screw shaft with a MIG welder.  Diameter is 1.5" and length about 9".  Heated this up with lots of turning and fluxing on the coal fired forge.  Got it hot enough to melt brazing rod and began to apply braze and letting it flow around the shaft.  After cooling it was evident that the threaded keystock shifted on the shaft, spreading out in some places and bunching in others.  It seemed to have a mind of its own..  Some new ideas are in play including preheating the shaft before putting the thread around it for brazing, and using a piece of pipe for the screw instead of solid..trying to control relative rates of heating of the wound keystock versus the substrate we are trying to braze it to.

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The tread coil moved around while heating. I guess that's not too surprising, there's a LOT of expansion going on in that length of stock. Maybe welding some long stock, say 3/8" sq. along the coil in three locations, 120 degrees apart. Then I'd tin the inside of the coil with braze, slip it hot over the shaft and start heating the whole unit till they sweat together and cool it all.


My thinking is first to splint the coil to keep it from going snake dance while it's heating. Tinning it will prevent you from having to try brazing it like we did in shop class. that just takes too long and requires spot heating making the snake even squirmier. Slipping the coil over the shaft which isn't up to brazing heat but is clean, Clean CLEAN and fluxed. It needs to be a little cooler than the coil so there's clearance. The inside of the coil is already tinned, the shaft is clean and fluxed so all there is to do is gradually bring it all up to brazing temp and let them marry.


Tinning before joining will allow you to use the female coil as a jig to keep the two matched. Brazing the female threads would be the same process in reverse. Tin the outside of the female coil, clean and flux the inside of the box. You MUST use something as a release agent on the outside of the male threads or take the chance of the braze sweating that far and making it all a big lump. Talk works as will soap stone. Rub it well and it shouldn't braze.


Best of luck, we're pulling for you.


Frosty The Lucky.

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     The mail thread is going to want to expand as it is heated.The inability to heat the entire length of the screw evenly at "once" makes for spots that will be be expanding at one point along the coil and contracting at another. Also moving it around and rotating it jossels the coils about as they rub against the coal in the fire. Tack welding one end of the coil also restricts even expansion.


     Heating the rod first and then sliding the coil over will help IF you can get an even heat along it's entire length all at one time without having to move it around in the fire and risk knocking the coil about.


      The best way to attempt this if you want to do it in a somewhat traditional way is to heat your parts in a muffle on the coal forge. This will allow you to get an even heat without having to move the parts around and it can help prevent some oxidation, especially if you through some charcoal in the muffle as you heat your parts.   On the other hand if all you want to do is braze it together use a gas forge.


  Don't ask me how I know these things :rolleyes:  

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There are multiple grades of lapping compound. And as your only woried about the rough spots it should get you there, tho the drill motor and pilot shaft might be a good idea.
The originals, from my understanding were forge brazed, now I have no prctical knolage what that involves, but I would think that with even heating the snakeenes should take care of its self. The tinning that Frosty suggests might be the answer tho I worry that the "splinting" may cause flat spots and his suggestion of apliying release.

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