I was asked by a fellow LJ to describe my double-Pipe-clamp face vise. So here it is, for any who might want to do something like this. I’ll break it down into 2 sections:
1. Building the thing
2. Advice to myself and others for improvements.
a. What I had to start with: My current bench sits in the corner of a 2 car garage, and was included with the house when we bought it 5 years ago. It is just a 2×4 frame with a piece of 3/4” Plywood screwed to the top.
b. To make a simple, functional vice, all I did at first was drill holes in the front of the bench for the pipes (mine were 18” pipes), and drill corresponding holes in another 2×4 and simply insert the pipes.
c. Drill holes in the metal pipe-clamp orange parts (one hole in each section is enough)...in order to keep the inside sections from moving around, and to keep the outside sections attached to the Block of wood as you tighten and loosen it…Drill these big enough so you can insert a screw easily without actually threading the cast iron.
d. Attach the inside pieces…I put these at a horizontal angle so I could reach them to loosen the vise. Attach the outside pieces, screw them to the movable 2×4.
e. I attached a second 2×4 about 8-10 inches back under the bench with holes to keep the pipes from sagging.
f. To loosen, I reach under the bench and release the pipe while pulling out that pipe. To loosen a lot, I have to do one pipe, then the other, then the other, since it only racks a certain amount.
g. To work on bigger boards, I drilled a series of holes in my bench leg and used a movable peg. Or I just clamped the other side of the board to the bench (see pics below)
a. Consign yourself to the fact that the only way to prevent racking when clamping in one side only is to stick a block of wood on the other side.
b. I would definitely get a stronger, harder wood for the movable part, since mine has quite a bit of flex to it when clamping boards in the middle.
b’. Before drilling holes in your bench, think carefully about the distance between the vises…More space gives more space (duh), but also increases the likely hood of flexing…If you go wider, make a thicker block of wood to go with it.
c. Using a pipe clamp in exactly the same position (always clamping 3/4” stock) can wear down and gum up the inside area, and cause it to slip. I was able to solve this by dis-assembling the clamp, cleaning the pipe, and filing down the metal rings so that they bite into the pipe better. (i was using cheap clamps, so perhaps more expensive clamps won’t do this.
d. If putting this on a solid-top bench, One would have to drill some very deep, large holes, and also determine where to put the inside pieces…I have a plan for this in my upcoming “real” workbench build, in which I plan to build this bench using only THREE 2”x10” x 10’ SYP joists ($33 total)...and my pipe-clamps.
-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!