This section is from the book "Spons' Mechanics' Own Book: A Manual For Handicraftsmen And Amateurs", by Edward Spon. Also available from Amazon: Spons' Mechanics' Own Book.
Various forms of independent vice have already been described (p. 193). Those now to be mentioned differ in that they are either attached to, or form part of, the bench, and are for the most part of wood. The object of the bench-vice is to hold boards while planing their edges, and pieces of timber while catting tenons, etc. The simplest substitute for a vice to hold boards for planing is a l 1/2-in. sq. strip of wood screwed to the front of the bench about 4 in. below the top, and having 2 or 3 thumbscrews or buttons distributed along its length, with wedges to fit between the thumbscrews and the wood to hold it quite tight. The ordinary wooden screw bench-vice, Fig. 440, is a cumbersome arrangement, not particularly effective, and wastes much time in adjusting. It consists of a solid wooden cheek a and a wooden screw b, the latter working in a female screw cut in a block attached to one leg c of the bench in a secure manner. The head of the screw b is perforated for the admission of a wooden handle d by which it is rotated. The manner of using the vice is sufficiently obvious to need no description.
One great fault in the ordinary wooden bench-vice is that there is no means of maintaining parallelism between the cheek of the vice and the leg of the bench against which it grips, so that the screw is sure to be strained sooner or later by the uneven hold it gets of the material placed in the vice. Several plans have been devised to overcome this drawback. That shown in Fig. 441 consists in having a supplementary screw a beneath the first; this screw a being fixed to the cheek b, and working freely through a hole in the leg of the bench c, on both sides of which are screw-nuts d e that regulate the amount of insertion or withdrawal of the cheek b.
The evils of this plan are the trouble and time consumed in the manipulation, and the -weakening of the bench-leg c, not only by the hole which penetrates, but also by a recess cut in it to receive the screw-nut e, in order to permit the jaws of the vice to be completely closed when necessary. A simpler arrangement, which somewhat modifies the undesirable features just noted, is shown in Fig. 442, and consists in replacing the second screw by a sliding bar a working in a box b fitted to the frame of the bench, and perforated at intervals with holes for the reception of an iron pin to keep it in position. Perhaps the least objectionable plan is the so-called " St. Peter's cross," shown in Fig. 443, consisting of two bars of flat iron placed crosswise, joined by a pin in the centre, and also pinned at the top, one to the cheek and the other to the bench-leg; their lower ends are free to work up and down in the recesses cut for them, and thus maintain the cheek in a perpendicular position, whatever may be its distance from the bench-leg.
A great improvement upon all these forms of vice is the instantaneous grip-vice, represented in Fig. 444. The manner of manipulating it is as follows: Raise the handle a to a perpendicular position with the left hand, and draw out or close, as may be necessary, the front jaw b the required distance. Place the piece of wood to be operated upon between the jaws b c, and press the front jaw b nearly close to the wood; then press down the lever, when the wood will be held firm in the vice. To remove the piece of wood, raise the lever. The grip is caused in the following manner: On the under side of the plate d, and in the straight line that lies between the letters ef, is a plate indented with a row of V-shaped depressions inclined at a slight angle to its sides, in other words, a longitudinal strip cut out of a female screw. At the end h of the bar g h, which is held in position, and travels in and out between 2 curved flanges projecting from the under side of the plate, is a short cylinder which is grooved along part of its surface with screw-threads, the remainder being left plain, and carrying a stop or stud, which prevents the progress of the screw beyond a certain point, so as not to cause injury to any substance placed within the bite of the jaws.
When the piece of wood has been placed within the jaws, and the front jaw pushed nearly close to it, the downward turn of the lever or handle brings the threads of the male screw within the threads of the female screw, and draws the front jaw against the wood tightly, and with a firm grip, so that it is impossible to remove the material without injuring it, until the ever is raised and the pressure relaxed. The drawing action of the screw causes the pressure of the jaws to be brought gradually, though swiftly, to the point that is required to hold the material immovable within their grasp. The principal advantages of this bench-vice are : (1) it grips and relaxes its hold instantly in any distance up to 13 1/2 in.; (2) the action and working are so complete that a piece of ordinary writingpaper can be secured and held as firmly as a piece of timber; (3) it effects a saving of about 75 per cent. of the time employed in working the ordinary bench-vice; (4) if wood facings are fitted to the faces of the iron jaws, all possibility of the indentation of the article placed in it is removed; (5) it can be fitted to any description of bench, new or old.
The price of the vice is 18s., or if supplied with wood facings fitted to the jaws, 20s. As the jaws are of iron, the vice will serve the purpose of an iron bench-vice for holding pieces of metal, as well as that of an ordinary bench-vice for holding wood; and by placing within the jaws 2 pieces of wood of sufficient length to hold a saw, it may be further utilized as a saw-vice.