Saturday, 3 March 2012

So What Does An Old French Guy Know That I Don't...

So with my last two posts, you must know by now that I am trying to define a vice that will adapt to the type of work I do, and plan to do. As I plan to make boxes, everything from jewellery to writing boxes, I expect they will be built in an array of sizes and shapes, not all necessarily square. I also have found a new interest; kinetic sculptures. This is a very fancy name for folk art that has moving parts. A more recognizable term for them is "whirligigs". Some of the more complex ones I have looked at lately absolutely fascinate me. I will leave the topic of kinetic sculptures for another day, but I mention them because they explain why I want a vice that will work out of parallel.
So far, my trip into the physics of applied forces hasn't been met with anything that even slightly resembles a, "I say there, Mitchell, I think you might have it, sir". In truth, my plans have pretty much garnered a, "Cute, but it won't bloody work you moron."
So I do what I do best...I do more research.
For my vice idea, I only had to cruise as far as the Popular Woodworking site to discover one of Christopher Schwarz's articles on vices, one of many, an article entitled, "Meet the Etaux from Old Salem's Shop".
An "Etaux" is an add-on to a vice and is used for specialty work, much like Moxon's Twin Screw Bench Vice. The one Chris was discussing is basically a miniature leg vice.
Chris had a couple of images of this vice that were small and showed less than ideal detail. I went off and searched for better ones, but couldn't come up with any, so I did a little work with Chris' to get some of the detail between the uprights to display. If nothing else, these adjusted images will show you why you can't enlarge digital image files - they fall apart.
Bad images aside, the design of this vice results in the question..."Why the hell will this old French guy's design work and mine won't?"

The inset is the original in its original size and the black and white image
is the adjusted one, like I had to explain that one to you :0)

There is no glide connecting these two uprights to keep them
parallel. None, nada, zip. The only parts are a large screw at
the top, and a smaller one at the bottom. Now where did
I see that design before?
Oh ya. It was mine!

Two examples from an early 20th-century tool catalogue, La Forge Royale.

While I have never seen this vice before, I couldn't help but notice that even the bottom, lighter screw comes at things from the back. 

While I can't see it in the photos, the bottom screw may be connected to the front upright in some way. I have emailed Chris and asked him about this. I'll let you know his answer once I receive it.




  1. Good research. The picture Etaux 171-178 looks similar to the one seen in the Ina video 'La fabrication d'un siège à l'école Boulle' that caught my full interest. I was not aware that it could be removed from the workbench.
    The jaws have the same width as the screw head, so I suppose my concerns about lateral stability are resolved this way. The one on the picture doesn't show this concern, but then it shows the unlikely result of an off centre charge, it looks as if cracked over its full length.

  2. I had this image in my mind - Shogoto Die - Dennis Young's japanese vice. Similar to what you are thinking about. Interesting way of keeping jaws parallel and good sized screw. Sorry can't post picture - here's a link.

  3. Interesting… Thanks for sharing your research on kinetic sculptures.