Unused tools

It’s hard to believe, but I bought this vise at the same garage sale where I got my drill press for fifty bucks fifteen years ago. For a lifetime, the drill press and vise had been part of a piano repair business, but even in 2003 nobody wanted real pianos anymore, and even fewer wanted repaired ones. I think he threw in the vise for a dollar more.

The drill press found immediate employment. I rushed it home and pushed the bench-top detritus noisily onto the floor to make room. It’s a wonderful tool, handling #80 bits with ease, and I use it all the time in my model making.

The vise, meanwhile, languished. I have a lighter one that I use for models, and whenever I needed a heavier vise it seemed easier to get the Workmate out. So for years it sat on the old workbench, then it moved out to the garage, then back in when the new workbench was built, then back out to the garage with the flood, and finally, inexplicably, into the cupboard over the laundry room sink.

Well no more! This week I needed to cut some brass for wheel centres, and decided it was time. So, I found three appropriately stout bolts, drilled some holes and fixed the vice to the workbench. The whole operation took perhaps 20 minutes and most of that was spent looking for bolts. In truth it could probably do with some cleaning and perhaps a coat of paint, but if I waited for that before installation, it might have sat for another decade.

Cutting the stock for the wheel centres took seconds rather than minutes as I didn’t have to walk out to the garage. And an unexpected benefit – the tool is exactly the right height and location to lean an elbow on as I ponder the next operation on the lathe. What took me so long?

Welcome home vise.


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