I suck at metal working, right bad. But there is not escaping it; some
needs to be done here and there. I finally picked up a mechanics vise
(real nice one surplus at Lee Valley) and I have to say, a lot better
then trying to hold something in a wood-faced vise (easier on the vise
Now I am wanting to permanently mount it to a sort of "metal working
station" with some drawers beneath, that sort of thing. Having never
done such a thing I thought I would solicit some thoughts.
So, ideas? Lessons, great examples? Weight might be a big deal, since
one might tend to bang things one it, or kind be pulling on this or
that...otherwise, I am at a loss other then a cabinet with the vise
My house came with one. The fella either built it himself, or got it
from his factory job. When I thought where I'd put a metalwork vise, lo
there were bolt holes already there. Anyway, it's big and ugly. 4x4
legs, 2x6 apron and cross members, two crossed layers of 1x T&G for the
top. Carriage bolts hold it together. It's 28" square and 34" high. I
use it to hold my drill press, grinder, buffer, and coffeemaker.
I made a wee anvil from a mending plate and scraps of maple and oak. It
suffices for the occasional rivet.
You need to start "networking".
Find a couple of metal working machine shops, especially ones with welding
A little conservation, maybe a case of beer, and an offer to swap some
Suddenly, you have a metal working station in your wood working shop.
SFWIW, I can do metal working, but don't, especially since there are so many
that do a much better job than I am willing or can do.
S/A: Challenge, The Bullet Proof Boat, (Under Construction in the Southland)
What's "metalworking" ? Does it make iron filings? Hand filing is OK,
powered angle grinders will throw black oak-staining iron dust all
around the workshop. Think very hard about the dirt management
problems - I keep a 40 mile distance between my woodwork and metalwork
benches (seriously - a friend and I segregate our workshops.
Admittedly we do a lot of welding.)
Any heat involved ?
Any oil involved ? Lots of metalworkers have a "clean" bench for
working on, and would no more dismantle a car engine on it than
Bench tops for metalworking needn't be metal, but they should be
something like melamine laminate (Formica) at the least. It's harder
on the bench surface than woodworking.
When sawing, woodworkers push downwards, metalworkers largely push
horizontally. Diagonal bracing front-to-back becomes even more
A bench is much less important for metal than wood, and the vice is
much more important. You can do a lot of metalwork with "a vice on a
stick", and you rarely need to lay a piece down flat for planing.
Drawers are a bad idea. Metal crud is even more pervasive than
sawdust. If you do go for this, make sure they're well sealed. A door
may be better than drawers.
<snip here and there
Paul, I have both. I am admittedly a tool junkie. I enjoy welding,
metalworking as well as woodworking. This however presents big problems.
In order to be a good woodworker you have to have some metalworking skills
anyway. Sharpening tools, ect.
I have to clean up all of the sawdust/shavings from under benches and tools
to prevent fires from welding/grinding. Cover all of the machine tool (wood
and metal) prior to welding/grinding. Clean up all of the metal shavings
from the drill press and lathe before starting a woodworking project. All
of the metal working tools and welders get a dust coating that needs
attention before use. And on and on.
There are also many benefits. I make my own jigs, hold downs, clamp racks,
fences, gates and much more. I can not tell you how many times I have fixed
a problem with a quick cut, fit, then weld.
My main metal working/welding grinding is on a very heavy, sturdy, mobile
cart with a 1/4" thick steel plate.
Here are some pictures.
If you have a nice, sturdy, well-mounted woodworking vise, and the
mechanic's vise is not too big, you can mount the mechanic's vise to a
block of wood, and clamp it in the woodworking vise when you need it.
Lots of good advice here so I won't belabor the points. Just one more
thing: Go to www.grizzly.com and look under metal working (paper
catalogs are neat too). Once you can get your mouth closed and the
drooling stopped, look into the availability of adult-ed metal shop
classes in your area.
I second the "metalworking vise bolted to a block of wood held in the
woodworking vise" idea. You can also hold a small bench grinder that
I also have a piece of exterior grade MDO plywood with a cleat along
the front that covers part of my woodworking bench for metalworking
and sharpening sessions. I use under waterstones, oilstones, when wet
sanding rusty flea market handsaws with WD-40, and other messy
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