I haven’t carved anything for a couple of years other than a little whittling while I was up in the mountains last month. I’ve carved in fits and spurts for a good many years but only a week or so at each time. I’ve never been able to stick with it because of time constraints so I’ve never become very good at it but I sure would like to stick with it this time since I’ve got a little more time, now. I would really like to get good enough to decorate some of my furniture with carvings.
Last Weekend I carved about 8 hours total and I sure did enjoy it. However, the only way that I had to hold my wood was in my regular woodworking vise on my workbench. However, it’s way too low and that causes me to have to bend way over. Since I have a bad back and a couple of bad knees from previous injuries I have to be very careful. Unfortunately, the 8 hours of carving while bent over much of the time knocked my back out of whack so I decided that I needed to buy or build a carving vise or work holding fixture.
I made a forum post requesting the good people here on Lumberjocks to give me some advice about woodcarving vises and I had a few responses concerning this. I really do appreciate all of the advice that I received from Patron, mpounders, dennisgrosen, and michaela. From their advice I decided that the best thing to do was to build my own and make it as heavy and strong as possible. So I looked through all of my junk to see what I had that would be suitable. I believe that you will agree from the pictures that what I came up with is a very heavy duty carving vise or work holding fixture.
First of all, I had the base of a large industrial feeder. It has a bore of around 2-1/4 inches which makes it very strong. It also has a locking lever to lock it securely to the column. I thought that I was going to have to turn a shaft to go into the bore but I found a spline gear that was just about 4 or 5 inches long that was just about right. It was hardened, unfortunately, so I couldn’t turn it with the tools I have so I just carefully rotated it with my hands on a pedestal grinder to take off a few thousands off the diameter. It’s not perfect but is close enough to be held very securely in the base when it is tightened.
The base is a heavy casting. The bottom of the base is 5 inches by 6 inches and height is 6 inches so it makes a good foundation. The two blocks of steel just above the base are 2 inches square and 3 inches long and are solid steel. These two pieces were left over from a machine that we built about 10 years ago. These have two holes at right angles to each other that are accurately bored to a few thousands over 1 inch in diameter. One is welded to the spline gear that pivots 360 degrees in the base. The second block of steel is bolted to the first with a 1 inch x 5 inch long hex bolt. The second block can swivel on the bolt and be tightened at whatever angle desired.
In the second block is a 7-1/2 inch long piece of threaded rod with two locking hex nuts. On the end of the threaded rod is a 3×3 inch square plate with a hole in each corner. Wood screws will be used to mount the piece of wood to the top plate.
The 1 inch threaded rod allows me to rotate the part 360 degrees and the two hex nuts allow me to lock the part at any position desired. The two nuts will allow me to raise or lower the part as well. I will probably make several more of these threaded rods with different size and shape plates for holding different shape and size pieces of wood.
This is another view above.
And still another view above.
I will probably mount the base on a large block of wood and will be able to clamp the fixture in my wood vise or hold it to the top of my workbench with some good heavy c clamps.
I may also may take Dennis’ advise and build me a heavy pedestal out of steel where I can bolt the pedestal to the floor and the vise to the top of the pedestal so that it is the right height to carve while sitting in a chair. Most of the time I believe that I will carve while standing so that I can have the leverage and traction of my feet and legs.
Below, are a few more pictures:
I am really pleased with how this turned out. I found just the right parts for this and locating the parts only took an hour. It only to a little welding and grinding on the shaft. All total, I doubt there was three hours spent on it and it should last me a lifetime. I may modify the bolt and treaded rod shafts so that I have built in levers to tight the unit instead of using wrenches. This will get me by for now.
I appreciate you taking a look. It will save a lot of wear and tear on my back and I am very proud of it.
-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau