A Geared Bench Vise To Clamp All The Things

On the eternal quest of workshop upgrades, [Alexandre Chappel] has combined woodworking and 3D printing to add a versatile 0.5 m wide vise with some clever internals to his workbench.

The challenge with such a wide vise is that it requires two timed lead screws on either end of the vise to prevent if from pulling skew under force. This can be done with a chain, belt, or [Alexandre]’s choice, gears. Inside the moving part of the vise he fitted series of 5 herringbone gears. By turning the center gear with a lever, it rotates the gears on the end which are fixed to tow lead screws. The external surfaces of the clamp are made with plywood, and the gears are printed with PLA and high infill percentage. [Alexandre] does say that he is not sure durable the gears are, but they definitely aren’t flimsy. He added an acrylic inspection window to the box section, which we think looks superb with the colored gears peaking through. The back of the vise is mounted inside the workbench, which keeps the look clean and doesn’t take up any bench space.

[Alexandre] does a lot of filming in his workshop, so recently he also built a very impressive and practical camera arm to avoid having to move tripods the whole time. A vise is a must-have tool in almost any workshop, so we’ve seen a few DIY versions, like magnetic base vise and one with a hydraulic vise.

21 thoughts on “A Geared Bench Vise To Clamp All The Things

  1. Nice. It’s desperately calling out for some bench dogs though.

    I wonder what you might use as a lube for those gears, to make them run smoother or longer?
    Dry-film MoS2 seems overkill and probably not appropriate for plastics.
    PTFE dryfilm?
    Petroleum greases OK with which plastics?
    Silicone grease?
    What’s the stuff in plastic-geared consumer stuff?

    Hey, HaD: How about an article on lubricants for 3D printed moving parts?

    1. Years ago when I was building a printer with a Wades extruder I read every blog and comment I could find where people talked about lubricating its 3d printed gears. I don’t remember everything I read but I do know that what I ended up with was a tube of white lithium grease and it worked. I would think the same, though a lot more of it would be a good idea here.

      1. Lithium grease is a solid goto for plastic parts (just about anything that doesn’t need ultra thin oil lubrication really..) Will it be safe with all 3Dprint fillaments? I doubt it.. But I don’t know of any that it will harm.

        Another good option is graphite powder – the two complement each other quite well being good for different style of mechanism/tolerances. I’ve mostly used it on 3D prints that have had a reamer through them to run on the metal shaft directly.

        I’d love a full article on indepth lubricant for material choice.. But with so many fillaments, and metal parts they might interface with its going to be a massive ask to cover everything.

  2. Awesome build, great job!

    I don’t know about the gears though. 3d printing is fine but I’m not sure about PLA. Is that shop air-conditioned during the summer? Even if it is, is the air conditioner ever left off during a vacation or anything like that? Any worries that the air conditioner might fail one day and require some time to be fixed? They might loose their shape if the room gets hot.

    I’ve had pretty good luck with ABS gears. I’ve never tried PETG. Is PETG too brittle?

    1. From his other videos it seems he exclusively prints in PLA and has several large PLA printed parts in his shop projects. Even his camera arm system that HAD covered a few weeks ago uses 100% PLA parts. YMMV but in his case everything seems to be holding up fine. Obviously there are different tolerances at play here than the camera arm, so it will be interesting to see if he does an update on the tooth wear/deformation over time if it presents itself.

  3. This is a good idea, but it neglects the scenario where you’d want jaws slightly out of parallel for grabbing an irregularly shaped object. Being able to disengage the intermediate gears to add a bit of offset on one side or the other would be a good thing. I have a folding workbench that has two lead screws on its jaws run by a plastic chain arrangement and the original annoyance of them going out of parallel has turned into something I depend on for working on all sorts of odd devices.

    1. I’ve 3D printed gears and I’ve cut them from wood, and the 3D printed variety (while a godawful pain) outperformed the wood by a landslide. I think I was getting binding due to moisture changes but the tolerances are just way too tight to do that kind of thing in wood.

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