Clamp design

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Forum topic by Jaepheth posted 02-07-2013 08:04 AM 8313 views 2 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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15 posts in 2435 days

02-07-2013 08:04 AM

Topic tags/keywords: vise sketchup pipe clamp

Trying to design a vise for my workbench.
Does anyone see any glaring flaws with this design?
Does anyone have recommendations on improvements?

(not pictured are a second set of nuts beneath the angle bar inside the vise, or I may thread the holes in the angle bar)

The jaws are 16” wide and should have around 11” of travel

I assume 3/4” pipe clamps are inherently stronger than 1/2 clamps due to the larger diameter?

And in case you’re wondering, I do have a 1/2” 20tpi die I’ll use to thread the end of the rods.

If the clamp’s clutch is too hard to reach I may add a lever that extends out towards the floor.

Credit to ‘Sparky’ for the pipe clamp model.

20 replies so far

View CplSteel's profile


142 posts in 2642 days

#1 posted 02-07-2013 10:59 AM

I built a lesser version of that and it was a pain to use. Is this a front vise or an end vise? The build looks like a front vise, but the layout makes it look like an end vice. My recommendation depends in large part on the intended usage.

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15 posts in 2435 days

#2 posted 02-07-2013 11:34 AM

It would be an end vise. What made it a pain to use?

Though I’m not really clear on the differences between a front vise and end vise other than their position.
End vise is for clamping boards flat side up and front vise is for clamping them edge up?

I’m trying to build a multipurpose vise, but I suppose it’d be primarily for holding boards for planing.

For fun, I also designed a sort of block and tackle vise:

I think in theory using a bunch of pulleys and cable to tighten a vise would equalize pressure along the length.
But it’s probably outside my ability to attempt to build at this time.

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15 posts in 2435 days

#3 posted 02-07-2013 01:34 PM

Would it be better to just have a single row of holes and a narrower, less complicated clamp setup?

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2965 days

#4 posted 02-07-2013 02:00 PM

One thing that would make it a pain to use is the 20TPI threading. That would mean 20 full turns to move one inch.

Instead of a pipe clamp consider replacing it witha 1” treaded rod with Acme treads @ 4-5 TPI.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View MNgary's profile


313 posts in 2895 days

#5 posted 02-07-2013 02:17 PM

Very innovative. I like it.

You may want to consider using a pipe clamp that has a small crank instead of a pin. You can get them from Sears or many other places. I find the pins very uncomfortable when tightening.

-- I dream of a world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 3430 days

#6 posted 02-07-2013 02:31 PM

I never quite got the appeal of making a vise out of pipe clamp. Is it to save money or because you particularly like that design? It seems like it would be a pain to use, as CplSteel noted.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View Grandpa's profile


3263 posts in 3154 days

#7 posted 02-07-2013 02:32 PM

Dallas I think you can buy a vise for the price of acme threaded rod. Isn’t the reason for building your own to make it cheapr or better? I have priced threaded rods in the past and theacme threads were not cheap. They are strong though. One place to look for acme threads is in a car jack. back in the bumper jack days they made a
tri-pod jack with a long threaded rod. I doubt there are any of those left in the world today. No bumpers either.

View Ripthorn's profile


1459 posts in 3463 days

#8 posted 02-07-2013 02:33 PM

It depends on if you have all the materials on hand or not. If you don’t and you have to buy the clamp and the oak (presumably from a borg), then you are going to spend almost as much as the Lee Valley economy face vise, which I have and quite like. Of course, if you’re all about using stuff you built yourself (or you have all the parts lying around), then you can go for it and it should work, though there may be some frustration involved with the clutch on the clamp.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

3778 posts in 2730 days

#9 posted 02-07-2013 02:38 PM

I like the idea. I would suggest using a 4” or 6” handwheel on the pipe clamp to speed opening and closing and to torque down of the clamping pressure when needed. As LJ Dallas pointed out above, the 20 tpi could be a pain, but you should be able to get close to the project piece with the pipe clamp’s quick release before applying the clamping pressure. Also, and I think you have this covered, but make sure your 1/2” steel guide bars aren’t directly below your dog holes—that could create a conflict. Good thinking and nice Sketchup!

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View rockindavan's profile


299 posts in 3114 days

#10 posted 02-07-2013 02:45 PM

I think you are trying to reinvent the wheel on this one. Your design is similar to what is out there right now, and I have a feeling it won’t work as slick as you hope it will. I wouldn’t use a pipe clamp as you wouldn’t get as much clamping strength with the little pin and you will have to reach under to pull the clutch. I would use bushings for the rods instead of just going through the wood. Everything has to be concentric with each other and perfectly parallel or it will bind. Good luck if you plan to go this route.

View Jaepheth's profile


15 posts in 2435 days

#11 posted 02-07-2013 07:07 PM

I have the wood on hand. I think I can buy the rest for ~$30 retail.
If there’s a pre-built vise that’ll give me nearly a foot of travel (after accounting for jaws) for that price then I haven’t seen it.

The 20 TPI is just at the last inch or so of the guide rods and after they’re locked into place they don’t move.
And the actual pipe clamps I’m considering do have a crank as opposed to a pin.

Another design I’m considering is mounting a scissor jack to the table and fixing jaws to it somehow. Not sure how it’ll be with racking and wouldn’t have a quick release, but a lot less precision would be required in construction.

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3599 posts in 2965 days

#12 posted 02-07-2013 08:33 PM

A 3’ piece of 1” Acme Rod is about $26 on eBay. I say some awhile back for 3 pieces of 1” for $18. Nuts were running about $10 for 5 of them.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

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3263 posts in 3154 days

#13 posted 02-07-2013 08:37 PM

That isn’t bad. I priced some from MSC machine supply once. That was 30 years ago and I nearly had a stroke just from looking. I have never bought any or even looked for it on eBay. I made some hand clamps back then and had to have half of it in left hand thread. MAybe it was the left hand acme that was so expensive. Thanks for clearing my mind.

View CplSteel's profile


142 posts in 2642 days

#14 posted 02-07-2013 09:13 PM

Pipe clamp vises are a pain because of the clutch and limits, or difficulties, in keeping the pipes co-planer. Basically what Rockindavan said. As a tail vise you don’t need that kind of width, it can work against you. You also don’t need that kind of depth of travel. If you want 10” of travel make the rear jaw 9” deep and put dogs at 1” and 7” and with 3” of travel you have 1-10” of space. Clamping to dogs spaced every 8” on your bench gives you all the distance you want. The downside is weight and alignment difficulties which is why a narrow deep vise is usually used on the tail.

Another idea is a modified Moxon vise. Basically get rid of the center pipe clamp and put screws on the sides. You can do this with pipe clamps as well but the screws are easier.

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15 posts in 2435 days

#15 posted 02-09-2013 11:25 AM

Revised design for tail vise:

All non-metal parts are built using 3/4 inch thick red oak laminated together.
Now only 3 inches wide with 9 inches of travel. It’ll use 18 inches of 5/8 diameter lead screw. Since this is my first time building a vise, I’ll start with standard 11tpi threaded rod for cheapness, but should be able to easily upgrade to 8tpi ACME threads later.

There’s enough room beside the screw to drop in a 2×4 or 2×8 to work end-grain, and I’ll have a block I can drop in to use it as a regular vise for miscellaneous work.

Instead of a straight rod I’ll probably put a knob on the turning wheel.

I’m wondering if the guide rod is necessary? So what if the vise end spins, I should be able to line it up before clamping, right?

In y’alls opinions, would this be an improved design as a tail vise?

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