Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Home-made fly-tying vise

Sure, I could buy a fly-tying vise, but why would I? I'm cheap, and I'm a tinkerer. I'd rather make one. More importantly, I need to find uses for some of the junk my relentless scavenging/salvaging produces. I'll admit it; I'm a hoarder. Other, sensible, folks (including my wife) see junk for what it is: crap that gets in the way and needs to be disposed of. I, however, see a potential tool or widget waiting to be born. To protect my reputation as an eccentric (not a lunatic) I need to put some of my salvaged junk to use every so often. This was an opportunity.

I have about a dozen sets of hemostats I picked up at a gun show for 8 bucks - after a little haggling... I chose one of the short-nosed sets with an exceptionally stout spring. There's my vise. Next, I needed a way to fasten them to the top of my desk in a stable fashion. I scrounged an old footless clamp used to hold an architect's lamp to a table top out of the trash on an afternoon walk last fall. My wife rarely accompanies me on these walks. I can't fathom why. I also salvaged the non-functional lamp. The lamp needed re-wiring, which took me an hour. Rather than use the included-in-the-garbage clamp base, I made one of a block of wood that I screwed to my workbench.

The footless clamp was ideal, except that had no bottom screw-foot, and was not made to hold a hemostat. I made a non-scuff foot by soldering a flat-washer to a short section of brass tubing that will slip over the screw shank. I then had, for all intents and purposes, an aluminum C-Clamp.

Next I filled in the tube in the spine with epoxy and a wood dowel.

The next step involved cutting the loop from one side of the hemostats.

Afterward, I drilled the lamp base to admit both tines of the cut hemostat handle. Notice that I also notched the top of the tube. This gave me three points of contact between hemostat and base, making the attachment quite sturdy.

I epoxied the hemostat to the base and let it cure overnight. I finished the affair off with a coat of black paint to the base and a swatch of adhesive-backed felt to keep the base from scuffing my table top.

I've used it to tie a dozen or so new flies, and I'm pretty satisfied with it. I only hope my flies work as well...

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