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Making a Knife Maker’s Vise – Easiest Knife Making Project Ever!

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Walter Sorrells is back with more tips for the knife maker today. This project is a knife-maker’s vise. He says he’s embarrassed to admit that after 20 years of making knives, he doesn’t actually own a knife-maker’s vise. It’s an incredibly handy tool, so he’ll be correcting that oversight.

Knife-maker’s vises are a family of vise designs that are used to hold knives so a maker can articulate them in various ways while working on them. They can be rotated and moved into various angles – horizontally or vertically. There are a number of fairly complicated knife-maker vise designs, but today, Walter will be making the simplest one possible.

This took Walter about an hour to make. He’s starting with a one and a quarter inch ID pipe nipple, which is galvanized. He doesn’t like all things galvanized, which he’ll discuss later, so he recommends black iron plumbing pipes for those who have them. He says the idea is to have a pipe that is thick enough to drill holes through.

He cuts the threaded parts of the pipe off with a hacksaw, but switches to a chop saw. One reason he hates galvanized is that because these pipes are coated with zinc, and zinc fumes are poisonous. He then takes a dowel that slides comfortably through the pipe and splits it in half with his band saw. He flattens the faces and one side of the dowel on the belt grinder. Then he attaches a piece of Delrin plastic to the flat using epoxy.

Walter says it’s possible to make multiple jaw inserts for this with different internal faces, so a knife-maker can hold the handle of a knife or a round stock, or whatever. He measures the pipe against the jaws of his vise, with clearance for the screws. He makes sure the pipe is perfectly horizontal to his drill, and drills holes in. He taps pipe threads in, and puts in the knobs.

Walter then tests the vise – it’s finished, except that he grabbed the wrong size knobs and will have to replace them.

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