Last year I had a rush of Record 52 1/2 vices for sale and they all went in a week. It’s testament to how wonderful these quick release vices are. if you find a good one, keep it, I kept two from the batch for my own future workshop! I’ve lost count of how many conversations I’ve had about mounting these excellent vices, but this explanation turned up in a recent book I purchased, Scott Landis’s excellent ‘The Workbench Book’.
He covers four ways of fitting the vices, edge mount, flush mount, flush mount behind apron and mortised mount. I’ve reproduced the drawings and copy to help anyone who is struggling with this. (I hope I won’t get emails from Collins about copyright, if I do, this will have to disappear quickly). My own book is a vintage secondhand edition, so in the spirit of Stewart Brand’s ‘access to tools’ (praise the Lord, for Brand is God), I hope they will respect my wish to get the information out there to help as many people as possible.
(Text and images from Scott Landis’s ‘The Workbench Book’)
There’s more to hanging a Record (or similar vice) than simply bolting it to the bench.To work properly it must be straight level with the top and secure. At the very least, once the vice position is decided, you must accurately bore four holes, attach the mounting bracket (which is a single casting with the rear jaw) and add word cheeks. But there are several fine points and a variety of mounting options to consider, as shown below.
The rear jaw may be mounted onto the edge of the bench top (Fig.1), inset flush with the edge (Fig.2), set behind an apron (Fig.3), or mortise into the underside of the bench (Fig.4). If the working surface of the rear jaw is the front edge of the bench top (Figs. 3 and 4), it will be easy to add additional clamps to secure a long board to the bench. On the other hand, if the cheek protrudes (Figs. 1 and 2), irregularities on the stock won’t strike the bench top edge and make it difficult to close the vice jaws.
Which vice-mounting method you choose depends on the thickness of your bench top, the shape of the edge and your own preference. Here are some other considerations to make vice installation easier and vice operation more effective.
- When positioning the vice, make sure that when the vice is closed, the screw and guide bars will not interfere with any dog holes or with the legs of the bench.
- Fitting the rear jaw/bracket to the bench will be easier if you turn the bench top upside down on it’s edge. If this is not possible, you can remove the front jaw of the vice along with the lead screw and guide bars to reduce the weight whilst fitting.
- Unless your bench top is unusually thick, you will have to insert a spacer between the mounting bracket and the underside of the bench. This can be made out of hardwood, plywood or mdc, or built up out of 1/4″, or 1/8″ tempered Masonite, or similar material.
- Size the spacers to position the top of the rear jaw about 1/2″ to 3/4″ below the top surface of the bench. This allows for periodic resurfacing of the bench top. (The wooden cheeks should be flush with the top.)
- If you let the rear jaw of the vice into the front edge of the underside of the bench, allow a 1/16″ gap above the casting. The spacer is bound to compress when you attach the vice, and this gap will close. Without the gap, the wood may buckle above the jaw and have to be planed off. (A snug fit on the sides of the rear jaw helps position the vice.)
- To hang the vice, use either 3/” bolts or lag screws. Bolts provide a more positive fixing (Fig.1), but their heads must be countersunk beneath the top surface and the holes should be plugged. (The square shank beneath the head of a carriage bolt will strip the wood after several installations, so I prefer to use machine bolts and lock washers.) Lag screws work well (Fig.2), but make sure that you size and bore the pilot holes carefully, and don’t remove the vice more often than necessary. Lag screws and machine bolts maybe be combined using an enlarged spacer (Fig.3), which strengthens the fixing.
- Metal vice jaws should always be covered to protect your work and the edges of your tools: 3/4″ to 1″ thick hardwood is fine. You can make these cheeks wider than the metal jaws to extend their clamping capacity, but bear in mind that the farther you clamp away from the centre screw the more the vice will rack out of square. For a neater job (and more protection), the wooden cheeks can also be routed to fit around the top and sides of the front jaw (Fig.1). Allow about 1/2″ of space between the tops of the guide rods and the bottom of the cheeks so that veneer edges or mouldings can fit between them.
- if you let the rear jaw into the front edge, wood must be rooted away to the exact thickness of the casting. If too much wood is removed, the wooden cheek will dish. If not enough i.e.s removed, there will be a gap at the top between the cheek and the front edge of the bench. Sawdust will work its way in and wedge the cheek away from the bench.
- The Record and Paramo vices are designed to make contact first along the top edge of the jaws. This ‘toe-in’ should be retained for a better grip. If your vice jaws are parallel, you can create your own ‘toe-in’ by tapering the wooden cheeks.
- To make it easy to align work vertically in the vice, inlay thin pieces of veneer in the top of the front cheek. These should lie at a right angle to the outside edges of the guide rods. Work can be quickly installed in the vice by pushing it against the guide rod and alleging it with the veneer on top.