28 June 2002

SWIVEL BASE ADDS VERSATILITY TO VICE

A couple of workshop items which caught

Andrew Pearces eye have been on trial over the past

few months. Heres a quick run-down, starting with

Swindens vice swivel base

MAYBE this is a question for sad people only, but did you ever come across a new blade on your Swiss army knife? One you didnt know was there, and which actually did something useful? If the answers Yes, youll likely appreciate Swindens swivelling vice base.

Its an add-on to the revolving head vice we tried recently (Power Farming, June 29, 01). To jog the memory, that featured parallel and pipe jaws mounted on a common head, which swings though a vertical circle to lock at any angle. Now a swivel base is far from original – such things have been around for donkeys years – but adding one gives stepless horizontal rotation, potentially extending the vices working flexibility even further.

Base prices run from £30 to £150 depending on jaw size. Your money buys a steel turntable which hoists the vice up on spacers so the swivel head can clear the bench. As a result, working height jumps by 70mm (2.75in) which, depending on the original setup and operator size, can be too much for comfort; so to drop things back to a manageable level we knocked up a bench extension (see below). This simultaneously gives more room for long items to swing, letting the bases abilities be better exploited.

Simple stuff…

The turntable is made from of two neatly-machined 200mm steel rings, one fitting inside the other. The bottom ring bolts to the bench, the top carries the vice. Spanning and locking the rings are a pair of bolts and nuts which, when slackened, turn with the top ring. When nipped up, they clamp the vice at the set angle. No problems there, but we had to grind back the bolt heads – which ride in a recess in the bottom ring – as they just fouled the bench. The other small quibble is that the bottom ring fixes to the bench with only two fasteners, rather than four. Thats secure enough, but if youre mounting the unit on a bumpy wooden surface the bottom ring can distort and bind. Otherwise the new bases fit and finish is fine.

… and effective, too

Using a vice which swivels two ways and mounts clear of the bench is a liberating experience. Suddenly theres more room to operate and after youve stopped walking into the thing by accident, the vices ability to bring the work to you – rather than reclamping it or doing a fair impression of the Hunchback of Notre Dame to file, thump or drill holes – is a bigger boon than you might think.

The turntable is made accurately and to fairly close tolerances, so locks up with only light pressure from a 19mm spanner. Thats good but fiddly, opening the way to swapping the nuts for more convenient extended tommy bars. Otherwise Swindens swivel base does exactly what it says on the tin. If youve already got a rotating head vice, its a must-have extra. Swindens Vices (020-7580 6491).