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Home Brew post vise


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I guess I'd better put this in the vise topic and quit taking up space in the "what did you do in the shop" topic. 

It all started off with a need for a suitable post vise.  I'd been looking and what I've found is a Vise that needs to be melted down for scrap will run about $300 because it's rusty.  So, I decided to build one. I figure that if a man could build one 100 years ago, I can build one today.  I have a chunk of square stock that I decided to start with.  It has been a learning experience to say the very least.    I have one jaw well on it's way. and #2 is catching up quickly.  But requires many heats, and many upsets, and many flattenings, to get the jaw widened enough.  I'd started with my hand crank blower, but decided that I needed the rest between heats, so I dug out the hair dryer.   Anyway, I started this ambitious project knowing full well I could probably buy one quicker. But, The education I will get is priceless. 

  Got the first jaw ready for the screw hole, Only took about 8 hours at the forge.   Now, how to make the screw hole.  I could drill it, but parent stock is only 1 3/16" and I have 1" lead screw. So , I decided to slit and drift.   Guess what, I have no tools to do that.  But, I have an anvil, a forge, and stock to make a slitter, and drift.    I guess that's what it's all about. If you need it, and don't have it, make it.  

Iron in the fire:


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Upset, and flatten:234743018_IMG_20210503_155437202(Copy).jpg.f7e4f8273bfe67d197b70d934b5473bd.jpg



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I would think that the most difficult part of making a post vise would be the screw, both the male and female parts.  One of the main advantages of a post vise over a machinist's vise is that the screw is "faster" so that the jaw moves further for each turn of the handle so that you can get a tight grip while "the iron is hot."  Maybe commercial large bolts and nuts are available with the proper pitch and thread count.

Good luck, it looks like a cool project.  I have never seen or heard of before someone building their own post vise.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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Gotta whole heap of bragging rights in that project!  Just remember that most postvises were made in factories and the smiths making them had access to strikers and power hammers.  I do have a "pre-factory" postvise and it's amazing how lightly built it is. The screwbox was forge brazed from around 6 pieces and the threads was stock wound around the screw, unscrewed and then forge brazed into the screwbox.  I try to use it at least once a year so it can remember it's a *TOOL*; but not for heavy work.

The old bottle "screw jacks"  "House Jacks" etc have a nice screw and a base that can be modified into a screwbox for a postvise.  (Search:   strongway screw jack     to see what one looks like and then go find a used one cheap!)

Definitely a project to bring to a conference to put on the "bragging table"!

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I believe that Tom Latane has forged a bench-mounted blacksmith's vise in "modern" times .  Even taught a class in making them, if I remember correctly (though the students reportedly didn't finish during the week long session). Not sure what he did for the screw and screw box.  Of course since it is Tom, it is chased and filed within an inch of it's life:


I think he may have also done up a full sized post vise as well, but I don't know if it was from raw stock or he "just" filed and chased an existing one.

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If you go to Tom Latane's website (just google his name), there's a page showing the entire process of making this vise. The screw itself was salvaged; he made a helical piece to fit and brazed it inside the tube of the screw box.

As for the full-sized vise, there are a couple photos at the bottom of his "Gallery" page that show a "Vise for [an] Armourer['s] Shop" with the notation "Reworked to appear older". 

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Hey, if it works, right?  I got the jaws assembled, and need to add the post. Screw, and nut are ordered.  should be here in a few days.

4" jaws.  I've ordered a 3/4" acme thread lead screw, with 1/4" travel per turn.  Not as fast as I would like, but should work fine.  Oh, and mounting hardware yet to be made.

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Blue, that is one heck of a lot of work and it looks nice.

I do have one question though, shouldnt the angle of the jaws be less? You have almost a 90* bend and it seems a lot of the energy that should be directed into the leg of the vise will be directed into that bend. 

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If I made one I would probably leave the rear jaw flat, and put a slight radius on the moving jaw so it would always push the part flat against the rear jaw. I use a piece of round stock in the milling machine vise to do the same thing. It narrows the contact point small enough that if the sides are not parallel It still pushes the rear side flat against the stationary jaw.

Nice job BTW

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 6/6/2021 at 8:19 PM, Frosty said:


How are you connecting the leg Blue?

Frosty The Lucky.

I'll probably just weld it on, and cut to length.

On 6/7/2021 at 3:11 PM, BillyBones said:

Blue, that is one heck of a lot of work and it looks nice.

I do have one question though, shouldnt the angle of the jaws be less? You have almost a 90* bend and it seems a lot of the energy that should be directed into the leg of the vise will be directed into that bend. 

Yes it probably should have been at less of an angle. And I may change that.  but I'll give it a go and see what happens.

On 6/7/2021 at 3:16 PM, ThomasPowers said:

Also: are the jaw faces angled so that they will be parallel in use and not when they are shut on nothing?

I didn't think about that at all.  But a good point which will need to be addressed.

On 6/9/2021 at 6:07 PM, TWISTEDWILLOW said:

How did you attach the plates at the bottom to the stationary side? 

The hinge plates are welded with 6011 rod, then topped with 7014.

Finally got to work on it some more today, got the screw assembled, and installed temporarily, made the spring, (actually cut from a Model A spring leaf).

all that's left to do is some tweaking, screw protection,  fabricate the mounting plate and spring holder-on'r, and install the post. Oh, and fabricate a handle from an old lug wrench.   It actually works pretty smooth.

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Made some progress today.  Still need to do a bit of grinding, and slicking up.  Need to angle the jaws some, but it seems to work just fine, as far as operation goes. The handle may be a tad too long, but time will tell on that.  Need to drill bolt holes in the mounting plate, and replace carriage bolts with cap screws. Last pic is 1 turn from full closed. About 5/16" open.

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I'll be making some major changes to the next one I build.  But I figure this one should serve better than what I have now.  ;)

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Something I learned along the way is that the screw must be able to float, lest it bind.  So the holes are oblong, and nut is not attached. I used a brass bushing in the moving part, to save wear on the screw.  They have a flange on them, but, if you look at the pics, you'll notice that the outer flange has full contact, while the inner flange does not.  No need on the inner flange, as there is no pressure there. Actually, no need for a flange on the inner half, But I had origionally thought about not using a spring, so the screw would have to do the work of opening as well as closing.   But the spring worked so well, I decided to forgo the flat for the flange on the inner bushing. But it would look better with it. 

  Thomas brought up a point that I'd not taken into account, and that is the need for the jaws to be angled in such a manner as to allow full contact with the thicker work piece. And another point was brought up about the 90 degree bend. Very good points that I hadn't thought of.  I'll grind the jaws to fit a decent profile. But the angle of the bend in the jaws I'll address when I build another, larger vise.

  Thank you all for your input.  This has been a great project, and I'm definately going to do another one, mabe with 6" jaws, and a more suitable angle, mabe 30 degrees instead of 90 degrees. 

    Shoot! one of these days I might become a blacksmith. (if I live long enough)

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Since the moving jaw travels on an arc, there needs to be some looseness in the system to not bend the screw in use. (To allow it to "float".)

To my eye that looks like a great "specialty vise"  I've had projects where that would have worked better than the "general purpose" post vices I have.

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