Tuesday 31 October 2023

Desk Vice Restoration, 3D printed jaws from Pop/Soda Bottles!


I love having a desk vice at my workstation. For ages I used my small Record "Imp" vice but that is doing good work in one of the sheds. I'd been using a cheap new no brand clamp on vice for a while but I was fed up with the non replaceable jaws not closing true. I spotted this interesting vice on Ebay a while ago which, although unbranded, is a reasonable little thing that also can swivel on it's base. I liked the width of it and the general form factor and put in a very low bid. It was pointed out in the listing that one jaw had been replaced with a piece of wood so I won the auction for very little cash!

As arrived the vice was a bit sorry looking with it's one wooden jaw that had been glued on! I stripped off the wooden and the steel jaw and cleaned off as much glue as I could. The metal jaw was held on with 2 M4 bolts and, after cleaning and then re tapping, the holes behind the wooden jaw were ready to be used again. I don't really do anything heavy on my desk vice, small work holding is the order of the day with anything needing more than delicate handling going into a bigger vice in the sheds. Whilst I should have fired up the milling machine and made up a set of aluminium soft jaws for this I decided to do a quick experiment and 3D print some jaws. After a quick digital caliper session on the original steel jaw I quickly knocked up a jaw in the amazing FreeCAD

Finally, I printed the jaws and fitted them. Interestingly I've recently written a series of articles over on RS Designspark where I built a "pullstrusion" system capable of turning plastic pop/soda bottles into decent 3D printable filament. So these jaws used to be about one and a half 2 litre lemonade bottles. You could probably make 2 jaws from one bottle but I bumped up the infill to around 50% to make them a little durable. So far the jaws have held up well. You could also consider them semi sacrificial as it's trivial to print up a new set. Speaking of which I definitely plan to print up a set in flexible TPU filament to create a proper set of soft jaws. 


No comments: