A precise vise

Soba vise

Last week, I visited my friend Pierre Oliver to help him draw out the first town for his new layout, full-size on the benchwork. I’ve written extensively about that trip on my Achievable Layouts blog, so I won’t repeat it here. You can visit that blog and read about our work session by clicking on this photo of an SP freight working the Clovis branch:

SP - Clovis branch freight.

But on the way to Pierre’s, I happened to pass a Busy Bee Tools store and recalled that my friend William Flatt has a nifty vise he uses to bench photo-etched brass kits – something I’m going to be doing a lot of as I contemplate my switch to modelling the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway in 1:64.

Fortunately, I’d had the foresight to take a photo of William’s vise when I visited him to collect some detail parts and trolley poles. In fact, we’d used his vise to bend the door frames for an interurban passenger car and I was very impressed by its ability to securely hold extremely tiny things:

Soba vise and bent door frame.
(That’s a tiny bend to make, but the vise had no problems holding the brass)

So, I made a quick detour into the land of the Bee and came home with my own Soba vise.

I decided the vise needed to be mounted in a way that it was secure when being used, but easy to move when I didn’t need it. So I built a mounting pad out of some spare MDF. I included a lip to hold it snuggly against the edge of my Festool Multi-Function Table, with the vise positioned so I would not bash my knuckles when turning the handle.

Soba vise - mounted.

I also included enough base behind the vise to clamp it to the table through one of the dog holes, keeping the clamp out of the way of any material I might be working in the vise. For this, I had to drill a 3/4″ hole in the masonite cover I use to convert the MFT to a hobby bench. This is located directly over a dog hole to pass a quick-release clamp, and I have a small plug for the hole when the vise is not in use.

The vise has already proven its worth many times in my shop. I recently did some resistance soldering work on a brass model and it securely held the parts. I can even clamp my ground lead to the vise for this type of work. I’m really pleased!

Mark: He’s right, you know…

My friend Mark Zagrodney writes A Model Meander and it’s always worth a read – but his post today really resonates with me, and there’s not a single image of a model railway in sight.

I won’t give away the story, but it involves the important role that slippers play in the hobby.

Enjoy if you visit – and while you’re there, have a look around at what Mark is doing. I always enjoy the visit.

I made a washer!

Okay, it’s a humble beginning, but…

Washer-Lathe

Last night, my friend Ryan Mendell visited. Ryan is a brilliant machinist, and he offered to give me some instruction on my recently-acquired Sherline lathe. We didn’t worry about measurements, but we talked about set-up and adjustment of the tools and tool holders, then worked through the four basic operations one performs on a lathe – facing, turning, boring, and parting. By the end of the lesson I had the small brass washer pictured above.

What a wonderful experience. I can’t wait to make something else!