Friday 1 April 2011

Old furniture and new vices...

I haven't had much chance to spend time online since enjoying the Modeller's Weekend at Missenden.  I didn't actually post from there as it seemed much more important to actually get some modelling done :-)

The last couple of weeks have been very busy with work, and other matters, but I have been doing more modelling in the background.  One of the things that I learned at Missenden was that my toolkit was deficient.  Those who saw me unpack, and produce all manner of oddments on request throughout the weekend may find that hard to believe but it's true.

One of the things that helps Tim Watson, our group tutor, produce such superb 2mm scale models is that he has a precision to his metal work that borders on that of a watchmaker.  A lot of this, such as filing is done using a vice to hold the workpiece.  In contrast, I just use the edge of the bench, or hold it in my fingers.

So when he suggested that a proper jewellers' vice would help enormously, then I saw the common sense in it. Tim advised not to waste money on a cheap one from one of the tool suppliers that you get at exhibitions, but to invest in a proper one from a watchmaker's suppliers like Shesto.

On returning from Missenden, I searched for the type that he recommended, and a few other bits and pieces that I needed, and ordered them online from Shesto.  Fortunately, as a Scalefour Society member, I get a 10% discount on everything ordered from Shesto, so I've already saved nearly half of my annual Society subscription.  Which is nice :-)

When the package arrived, i had a good look at the vice, which is a lovely engineered piece of work, and also demountable via a clamp and lever from its base.  I decided to place it on the right hand edge of my bureau cum workbench, where it will be easy to use.  Having it able to be removed means that I can take it off and still close the lid to turn the workbench into a normal piece of furniture again.

I marked out the boundary of the base, to be inset into the timber, and attacked it with a couple of chisels...

That is the base of the vice at the top of the picture, being checked for size.  I took a bit of care to get the hole nicely trimmed to fit tightly, and ensure that the bottom surface was smooth.  I raided my stock of screws in the garage for some cabinet-makers screws that would fit flush - my last ones, so I must remember to get a further stock - and then cleaned everything up and tried it for size:

The result is a total success.  Sturdily mounted, and able to be tidied away.  I haven't tried it in anger yet, but I'm sure that I will soon...


  1. That looks a solid vice. I'm starting realise how inadequate my motley collection of tools are. The vice I'm using was purchased cheaply and it shows... for a start the jaws are not parallel. It has helped to get me started but is starting to cause me some problems.

    I didn't realise P4 members get 10% discount at Shesto. I'll have to have a look though their catalogue.

  2. Good tools make life so easy...

    Last night I was fettling what were (literally) the last parts to go on my Pug - two lost wax brass cast pressure gauges. Being cast brass, the filing down of the sprues would take a bit of effort.

    I was struggling holding these in my fingertips - they are about 4mm across. Then I remembered that I had the vice to hold them in...

    Popped them in tightly, a couple of strokes of the file and the job was done :-)

    Good tools are never cheap, but they are always worth it.