Hydraulic Bench Vise A Masterpiece Of Scrap Metal And Angle Grinding

For most of us, a vise is the sort of thing you clamp onto the edge of a workbench and crank down by hand. It might even be made of plastic, depending on the kind of work you find yourself doing with it. But it’s safe to say that [WorkshopFromScratch] won’t be soldering any PCBs in the jaws of this nearly 100 lb hydraulic vise that he built from, well… scratch.

In the video after the break, he takes an array of scrap metal including what appears to be a chunk of racking from the Home Depot and a rusted plate that looks like it could be peeled off the hull of a sunken ship, and turns it into a monsterous vise with five tons of clamping force. Outside of a handful of bolts, a couple of gas struts, and the hydraulic bottle jack that that provides the muscle, everything is hand-cut and welded together. No fancy machining here; if you’ve got an angle grinder, a welder, and of course the aforementioned stock of scrap metal, you’ve got the makings of your own mega vise.

The piece of racking is cut down the center to form the base of the vise, but most everything else is formed from individual shapes cut out of the plate and welded together. Considering the piecemeal construction methods, the final result looks very professional. The trick is to grind all the surfaces, including the welds, down until everything looks consistent. Then follow that with a coat of primer and then your finish color.

While the whole build is very impressive, our favorite part has to be the hand-cut cross hatching on the jaws. With the workpiece in one hand and angle grinder in the other, he cuts the pattern out with an accuracy that almost looks mechanical. If we didn’t know better, we might think [WorkshopFromScratch] was some kind of metalworking android from the future.

Being able to work with metal is a fantastic skill to have, and we’re always impressed to see what folks can produce with a welder and some scrapyard finds. Especially when they build tools and equipment that can be put to practical use.

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Project Egress: The Hinges

A door’s hinges are arguably its most important pieces. After all, a door without hinges is just, well, a wall. Or a bulkhead, if we’re talking about a hingeless hatch on a spacecraft.

And so the assignment for creating hinges for Progress Egress, the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing by creating a replica of the command module hatch, went to [Jimmy DiResta]. The hinges were complex linkages that were designed to not only handle the 225 pound (102 kg) hatch on the launch pad, but to allow extended extravehicular activity (EVA) while en route to the Moon. [Jimmy], a multimedia maker, is just as likely to turn metal as he is to work in wood, and his hinges are a study of 1960s aerospace engineering rendered in ipe, and extremely hard and dense tropical hardwood, and brass.

[Jimmy]’s build started with a full-size 3D-printed model of the hinge, a move that paid off as the prints acted both as templates for machining the wood components and as test jigs to make sure everything would articulate properly. Sheet brass was bent and soldered into the hinge brackets, while brass rod stock was turned on the lathe to simulate the hydraulic cylinder hinge stays of the original. The dark ipe and the brass work really well together, and should go nicely with [Fran Blanche]’s walnut and brass latch on the assembled hatch.

With [Adam Savage]’s final assembly of all the parts scheduled for Thursday the 18th, we’re down to the wire on this celebration of both Apollo and the maker movement that was at least in part born from it.

Note: the assembly started at 11:00 Eastern time, and there’s a live stream at https://airandspace.si.edu/events/project-egress-build.

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Blacksmithing For The Uninitiated: Curves And Rings

You know the funny looking side of the anvil? That’s where the best curves come from. It’s called the anvil horn and is the blacksmith’s friend when bending steel and shaping it into curves.

The principle of bending a piece of steel stock is very easy to understand. Heat it up to temperature, and hammer it over a curved profile to the intended shape. A gentler touch is required than when you are shaping metal. That’s because the intent is to bend the metal rather than deform. Let’s take a look!

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Automatic Cut-Off Saw Takes The Tedium Out Of A Twenty-Minute Job

For [Turbo Conquering Mega Eagle], the question was simple: Do I spend 20 minutes slaving away in front of a bandsaw to cut a bunch of short brass rods into even shorter pieces of brass rod? Or do I spend days designing and building an automatic cutoff saw to do the same job? The answer is obvious.

It’s only at the end of the video below that [TCME] reveals the need for these brass bits: they’re for riveting together the handles of knives he makes and sells. That makes the effort that went into his “Auto Mega Cut-O-Matic” a little easier to swallow, although we still think he ran afoul of this relevant XKCD. The saw is built out of scraps and odd bits using angle iron as a base and an electric die grinder to spin a cut-off wheel. A small gear motor feeds the brass rod down a guide tube until it hits a microswitch stop, which starts the cut cycle. Another motor swivels the saw to make the cut then moves it out of the way so the stock can advance. The impressive thing is that the only control mechanism is a series of microswitches, cams, levers, and springs  – no Arduino needed. Heck, there’s not even a 555, which we find a refreshing change.

Yes, it’s overkill, but he had fun and made something pretty ingenious. [Turbo Conquering Mega Eagle] always has something interesting going on in the shop, and we couldn’t help but notice him using his aluminum-melting tea kettle to make some parts for this build.

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Blacksmithing For The Uninitiated: Your First Time At The Anvil

For the past few months we’ve been running this series of Blacksmithing For The Uninitiated posts, exploring the art of forge work for a novice. It’s based upon my experience growing up around a working blacksmith’s business and becoming an enthusiastic if somewhat inexpert smith, and so far we’ve spent our time looking at the equipment you might expect to need were you embarking on your own blacksmith work. Having assembled by now a basic forge of our own it’s now time to fire it up and take to the anvil for our first bit of smithing.

Lighting a forge is easy enough. Some people do it with a gas torch, but I break a piece of firewood into sticks using a hammer with the fuller set in the hardy hole on the anvil as an impromptu splitter. Making a small fire by lighting some paper under my pile of sticks placed on the hearth next to the tuyere I start the blower and then pile coke on top of the resulting conflagration. After about ten minutes I will have a satisfying roar and a heap of glowing coals, and as they burn there will be some slag collecting in the bottom of the fire that I will eventually need to rake out. Continue reading “Blacksmithing For The Uninitiated: Your First Time At The Anvil”

Build A Sheet Metal Brake With No Welding Required

Sometimes, there’s a job to be done and the required tools don’t fall easily to hand. [Bob] found himself in just such a position, needing to get some window flashing made up despite lacking a sheet metal brake. After waiting far too long for someone else to do the job, [Bob] elected to simply make the tools and do it himself instead (Youtube link, embedded below).

The project came about simply because [Bob] needed to bend 42″ sections of flashing, and couldn’t find a decent deal on a sheet metal brake above 36″ wide. The build starts with some angle iron and simple hinges, bolted together to form a basic brake design. With some rectangular hollow section bolted on for handles, the brake is then clamped to the bench and is ready for action.

It’s a build that any experienced hacker could whip up in an afternoon and be pumping out basic sheet metal parts by sundown, and requires no welding to boot. To learn more about bending sheet metal, check out our primer on the subject. Video after the break.

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Build Your Own Metal Roller

Metal fabrication is a useful skill to have. There’s plenty you can achieve in your workshop at home, given the right tools. There’s lathes for turning, mills for milling, and bandsaws and dropsaws for chopping it all to pieces. But what do you do if you need to make hoops and bends and round sections? You build a metal roller, of course – and that’s precisely what [James Bruton] did.

The main body of the tool is built out of box section, chosen largely as it’s what [James] had lying around. Bearings are of the familiar pillow block variety, with 20 mm bright steel serving as the rollers due to its better tolerance than mild steel stock. Set screws hold the shafts in place to avoid everything sliding around the place. A 10-ton bottle jack then provides the force to gently bend the workpiece as it passes through the rollers.

Initial tests were positive, with the roller producing smooth curves in 4 mm thick steel bar. There were some issues with runout, which were easily fixed with some attention to the parallelism of the shafts. It’s a tidy build, and can serve as a basis for further upgrades in future if necessary.

We’ve seen DIY roll benders before, too. Video after the break.

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