Parrot Vise Adapter idea

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Forum topic by luthierwnc posted 01-15-2016 11:38 PM 1376 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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146 posts in 1805 days

01-15-2016 11:38 PM

Hi All,

I’m redoing my benches to include better storage. The main bench will be a more typical roubo/shaker unit for furniture-type woodworking. I’ll shorten my existing roubo-style bench for just guitar work and I wanted to include a parrot vise. Garrett Wade has a nice Chinese model that includes the horizontal attachment but it still seemed I’d be limited to wherever the base was anchored.

There is a lot of information on making adaptable bases for these—including some very clever ones using a trailer hitch ball for more advanced carving. My metalworking skills are primitive but staring at the versions a lot of the gunmakers use gave me an idea for something I could do pretty easily. It depended on finding the right metal.

I think I did. In the picture is a piece of 1-1/2” OD drawn-over-mantle steel tube with a 1/2” hole in the center. I paid the offer price for a foot-long section on the condition they lop-off two 2 3/4” pieces. Even I can ream it out a little and tap an inch or so for a 5/8” bolt. At that point I can bolt it to; a piece of hardwood that can go in another vise, a hole in the top of any bench in the shop or clamp it just about anywhere else. Use it vertically or horizontally. The one that is permanently bolted to the hardwood will be off-center in a rectangle so I have 4 height settings.

The pipe is still in the mail so there may be unexpected complications. I’ll have to check clearances when I actually have it and the parrot vise in hand. The Chinese ones seem decently made or I may hold out for a Gyro-Vise or Versa-Visa on Ebay. I’ve still got to make the bench so the design may change a dozen times in the head-scratching stage.

At any rate, I hope this helps if you are thinking about versatile clamping. sh

PS I settled on the 1/2” hole because this was to originally fit a 2” hitch ball with a 5/8-18 shank. That doesn’t seem necessary now because the hardwood block can be squeezed at a variety of angles in a normal bench vise. Still, I have that option and thought that an auxiliary set of vise faces with a partial ball shape carved into the surface would give you any angle you want. Don’t think I need it but you never know. sh

2 replies so far

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146 posts in 1805 days

#1 posted 04-01-2016 01:21 AM

A couple months back I postulated on making versa-type vises more adaptable. It’s taken a while but here is what I’ve done so far.

By way of background; this is my guitar bench. It’s a shortened Roubo bench but is 39” high. The tallest in the shop so I can get fine work at eye level. The tube and bolt picture is a cutoff from the original post pic of a drawn-over-mantle steel pipe—1.5” OD X 1/2” ID. I reamed it out and tapped it for a 5/8” bolt. Drill a hole and I can mount it anywhere. The other picture shows another piece of the tube bolted to a piece of 2” oak with a Shop Fox versa-style vise attached. The far end is clamped in a bench vise.

What I’m shooting for here is if I need this vise to hold a guitar neck near the headstock, I can raise/lower the fox vise and move it along the width of the bench top for the right height. I can also rotate the vise so it is perpendicular to the neck at any of those settings. You can’t see it in this shot but I tapped a 3/8” hole on the back side of the swivel-hole and inserted a brass bolt. When the vise isn’t clamped tight it swings freely on the tube. A couple turns of a socket wrench and it stays put even when not squeezed.

One problem I had—which had a simple fix—was that working in tight quarters limits the stock arm to a half-turn before it hits the bench. First I sawed-off the original arm and substituted a 3/8” cap bolt and acorn nut. When the bench is in the way (like it is here) I can remove that and use a T-handle with a 3/4” socket on the business end. To make that work, I tapped into the center of the lead-screw head and threaded it with a 1/2”-13 tap. Then I stuffed the hole with JB weld and cranked a 1/2” long bolt and lock-washer into it. If it ever moves I can pin it with a finish nail. Now, even when the lead-screw would ordinarily be hard to reach, I can whip out the T-handle and cinch it tight very quickly. If I had more machine tools, I’d have just milled six sides into the lead-screw head to make that the bolt.

Also not shown are a couple soft faces for the jaws. One is 1/2” BB plywood and the other is the same but with cork lining. They stay on via a couple neo magnets countersunk into the ply.

Overall I’m pleased. Between the basic bolt and tube and the dedicated oak arm, there aren’t many places I can’t position this thing. The relatively newer piece of laminated oak bolted flush with the end of the bench will also let me C-clamp the arm in position.

I hope this helps those wanting more carving, lutherie or gunsmithing choices. Cheers, sh

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146 posts in 1805 days

#2 posted 04-01-2016 11:49 AM

PS In application I made tapping the DOM tube more complicated than I needed to. It would be much easier to just run a 1/2” bolt into the top of the tube and nut it on the other side. It might be in the way mounted vertically but makes no difference sideways.

I also didn’t explain the “swing freely” part well. When these vises are mounted with the round support horizontal (parallel to the floor), they rotate 360 degrees. There is a mechanism (the bolt and arm under the lead-screw) that tightens on the support when the work-piece is tightened. But until that is cinched-down, you could easily break a finger and/or ruin your part trying to manage the vise position while tightening the screw. It’s a three-handed job.

The Garrett Wade site, after consultation with a gunsmith who made the mod on a gyro or versa vise original, recommends placing a bolt through the thick iron on the back of the mounting area. Mount the vise, get the position right and lock it in place before securing the work. Theirs has a nice handle. I just got a 3/8” brass hex bolt so it wouldn’t mar the DOM steel. On one end of the T-handle driver I ground a square and secured a 9/16” socket with some epoxy. The 3/4” socket is on the long end.

Cheers, sh

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