You’ve probably seen me using spring clamps to hold small parts at the drill press. What I don’t show you in those videos is that often the parts push their way out of the holding force of the spring clamp. They stick to the bit, and spin around in a menacing fashion, threatening to fly off at any moment and take out an eyeball. Luckily, I’m pretty good about wearing safety glasses (although I have been razzed pretty good in the comments for not wearing them while making a cut in my table saw sled build video). I digress.
I do have a metal drill press vise, but it’s too easy to damage the parts I’m working on. Also, a normal drill press vise has an opening in the center, which prevents you from drilling into the vise itself. That’s fine for most metals, but wood benefits from having a sacrificial piece directly behind it. The sacrificial piece prevents the fibers of wood from “blowing out” or tearing out in the direction of the bit’s travel – kind of like an exit wound from a gunshot.
When I drill small wooden parts, I usually poke a hole using a spike directly where I want to drill. This makes it to where the drill bit finds its way to that center point; the bit simply pulls the workpiece into the correct position. This technique is less likely to work correctly when using a metal vise because of the weight. This new vise is lightweight enough to allow this trick to work.
I haven’t put this vise fully through its paces yet, but I’m excited to have something that at least won’t let go of my workpieces. I’ll keep you updated on how it performs and what I learn from it!