Mike Starling's Knife Vise

As one works toward finishing a knife, it gets progressively harder to hold in the variety of positions needed to do work. There are several interesting vises commercially available, but those with real flexibility are darned expensive. So, Starling built one with several design goals:

1. Had to be constructable out of materials that are reasonably available.

2. The materials had to be reasonably inexpensive

3. Fabrication should require no unusual techniques.

4. The vise had to provide 360 degree positioning around the long axis of the knife ... that is, any area around the handle had to be available for work.

5. The vise had to allow a second range of rotation ... around a line drawn perpendicular to the blade.

6. The vise had to allow holding small to rather long knives.

The resulting design is really simple, cheap to build, and only requires only two milling operations ... and they can be done with files if necessary. The stand is made from a piece of large scrap angle iron cut to a reasonable length. Mine is made from angle with 4" sides, and is 7 inches long. The bench side has three holes for bolting to the bench.

The base of vise tube is made from a piece of 2" pipe about 6" long. The other end is made from a piece of 1/8" walled rectangular steel tubing cut to suite your requirements. Mine is about a foot long as I want to hold some pretty big blades. The piece between the two tubes is a 1/8" piece of steel plate with a hole milled in it that fits the inside contour of the reactangular tubing. The three pieces of the vise tube were MIG welded together.

The supporting arm is made from a piece of 2 1/2" pipe 6" long. I bought the pieces of pipe at the same time so that I'd be sure the piece to be used for the base of the vise tube would rotate within the tube used for the supporting arm. A 3" piece of 1 1/2" square mild steel bar had one end milled with a 45 degree inlet so that the tube would sit in the depression while it was welded. If milling facilities are not available, the depression could be cut with a file (the Swedish mill). The other end was drilled for a 5/8" NC bolt. The bolt is inserted into the hole, cross drilled and a roll pin used to secure it.

One side of the inside of the rectangular tube is covered with a rubber pad glued with 3M spray contact cement. A plate is made to insert between the knife and the lightening bolts and the blade side also covered with rubber cemented in the same way. A piece of 1018 was used for the insert plate. Tightening bolts were added as shown, by drilling holes in the tubes and welding nuts in place. 3/8" NC nuts and bolts were orginally used in this design, but have been replaced with 1/2" NC socket head bolts with handles inserted in the heads. The 3/8" bolts had a tendancy to sieze up from abrasive dust. This vise design is simple, cheap, and effective.