Hot Workbenching – Moveable Vice

This is my engineers vice which is attached to an MDF bed.  It is held into place by three carriage bolts, tightened using nuts.  The bed is in turn attached to a workbench using wing knobs, which screw into threaded wood inserts.

While this set up allows me to quickly free up space on the workbench, the original MDF has seen better days, and the vice now doesn’t feel quite secure.  The square piece of metal which digs the bolt into the MDF has lost its grip.  I want to replace the base with a sturdier piece of ply.

So after unscrewing all the fixings, and using a long nose vice grips to hold the bolt while I unscrew the final nut, I knocked these out and place the original board on top of the ply.

I am going to use it like a template, so I can locate the original inserts on the work table. After clamping the two together, I use these transfer punches to mark the centres of the outer holes.

I also mark a line along the middle of the ply using an engineer’s square, which allows me to check the alignment of the vice.  The line I drew crosses a small mark I made with the transfer punch.  I then use the original MDF to transfer the bolt holes.

I am using this generic shot of myself cutting some ply on the table saw, and then drill out the holes, starting with the larger ones for the wing knobs.  I changed to a smaller bit to mark through the vices bolt holes and use a forster bit on the underside. This will recess the domed carriage bolt heads.  After doing that I drill their holes to the same diameter as the bolts I will be using.

I hammer the bolts into the ply, flip it over and bolt the vice into place.  I am using a washer, a nut and a locking nut which might seem a bit excessive, but I don’t want this to budge no matter what I’m whacking on it.

I am also going to add some insert nuts to the end of another workbench.  This area is a little bit of a dumping ground but when the entire workshop is a mess, I often use the vice here.  I align the base and use the transfer punches again to mark through the holes.  I drill out the melamine with a forstner bit so the head of the insert sits under the surface, and then the holes.  I screw these inserts using a chopped down allan key fitted into the chuck of a hand drill.

This technique of securing tools temporarily to a workbench allows for versatility around what is otherwise a small workshop.  I used this technique on to hold the pillar drill in place.

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