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Thread: Make or buy? Moxon "hardware"

  1. #1
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    Make or buy? Moxon "hardware"

    It's always the question with those who make things. Pay someone to make a professional kit you can rely on, or find a way to make it yourself? This is how I decided to go "cheap and creative" on Moxon vise hardware. Here is my kit, sans wood for the chops:

    kit light.jpg

    Everything is from McMaster-Carr except the suede and the $4 white oak scrap with the giant check in it that I picked out the bin last year at my hardwood supplier in Martinez, CA. M-C price tag: $59.94 including tax and shipping. The 4" x 48" suede roll was $19.49 including tax and shipping. The kit is centered around the 3/4" - 6 Acme thread we all think is so cool about the Benchcrafted product. I tweaked my kit with 12" rods and leveling washers, and as you'll see I needed two extra nuts (not seen the photo because they're in situ).

    I mentioned in an earlier thread that I wanted to try to make my own handwheels, since Benchcrafted has so cleverly taken that machining operation in-house, and it forms the basis of their cost (and price) structure. At $164, my total bill would come to about $197 for the above equipment, albeit with their thoroughly excellent cast iron handwheels.

    To refresh, here is the design idea for my oak handwheels:

    0 plan.jpg

    The wheel is a sandwich of a 3/4" Acme nut captured between complementary mortises in an outside 5" wheel and an inside "shaft" as shown. My parts ended up being 7/8" thick, so the overall wheel thickness is 1-3/4".

    It all seemed pretty sound on paper. Then I came up against my developing woodworking skills: specifically, mortising with a chisel. One key reason I wanted to go this route (besides wanting to save $120) was that my next big undertaking is going to be dovetails, and I know I'll need to wield a chisel well for those. Unfortunately, even after carefully marking the nut outline, here is how I cut the first mortise in one of the "shaft" parts:

    1 skewed hexagon.jpg

    Ouch. Turn the screen around a few ways and you'll see it's nowhere near symmetrical. It ended up this size and shape because I kept needing to take off a bit more here and there until the nut would fit. The next one wasn't much better. I knew I needed a different procedure.

    Again I carefully marked off the profile, but this time I pencilled in the knife lines and added blue tape around the perimeter to keep me in bounds.

    2 pre-tape.jpg 3 taped.jpg

    Things then went a bit better, and I had the fit I wanted on at least two of the four parts:

    4 going better.jpg 5 a nice fit.jpg

    I'll need to chisel as neatly as this when I mortise into the stationary chop later! So my mistakes got covered up in the sandwich, and no one will ever see them. These ended up being my test mortices.

    To avoid exceeding the photo limit, I'll finish in the next post.
    Last edited by Bob Jones 5443; 05-12-2020 at 11:04 PM.

  2. #2
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    Next, I wanted to profile the shafts, which by then were merely cylinders. This led to a dicey router table experience where I ran a round 2-5/8" diameter, 7/8"-thick cylinder over an ogee bit on the table. I do not recommend that anyone try this with a part this small. The ogee bit took a half inch off the radius from the bearing, so in the end the bottom of the part (its only foundation on the router table) was only 1-5/8" in diameter!

    After slowly, slowly running one part partially through and sleeping on the idea, I happened upon a plan to secure the shaft part in the jaws of a large handscrew. I used a block of laminated plywood to hold the shaft part down to the table as I glided the assembly over the bit, little by little. Still very painstaking but considerably less unsafe. (I skipped the photography for this step.)

    After sanding the profiled oak parts, I glued them up and now I have two stout and handsome handwheels.

    6 profile.jpg 7 glamour shot.jpg 8 structural detail.jpg

    You might be wondering if I have a lathe. No, I don't. That would certainly be the preferred way to make these parts. I made the wheels and shafts on my band saw, and picked up a 1/8" blade in the process to make the tight radius in the shafts. I also upgraded my band saw circle jig so that it's infinitely adjustable now on a T-track, instead of having to rely on a sawed-off 1/8" drill bit driven into the jig. I profiled the rounded edge of the 5" wheels with a 3/8" radius rounder bit. Since the oak was 7/8" thick, there was enough wood to ride the bearing from both faces of the wheels.

    Make or buy?
    Last edited by Bob Jones 5443; 05-13-2020 at 1:33 AM.

  3. #3
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    I like your hand wheels Bob, but I now require you to tediously lay out and drill half (or some partial hole variation thereof) holes around the perimeter of the wheels to act as "finger" slots. I admit, the layout alone would make my head explode. Holes too close together would result in uncomfortable "points" - too far apart would look "home made". You have your work cut out for you and, yes, the half holes would have been better off being drilled before cutting out the circle, but hind sight is infinitely more accurate than foresight. I will patiently wait for your next photo and not press you for progress reports.
    David

  4. #4
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    David, I sense a sly rebuff to my overthinking tendencies.

    The contrarian view is that solid wheels would be heavier, and since it's wood, they can use all the mass they can get.

    Thanks for the compliment, though. I enjoyed making them.

  5. #5
    Looks great Bob! I also just finished building a moxon vise, with self sourced hardware. I did have to thru thread the handles on the lathe though to match the 1" x 5 ACME thread. It almost resembles another moxon vise I've seen somewhere around here.....

    IMG_20200423_205635700.jpg

    IMG_20200423_204402828.jpg

    IMG_20200423_205606668.jpg
    Last edited by Jason Meinholz; 05-27-2020 at 2:41 PM.

  6. #6
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    Nice build, Jason. What wood is that? Tell us more about the source and the threading of the wheels.

    I just picked up an 8/4 hard maple board for the chops today.

    As to the photos: who knows? I have heard it's an artifact of the platform the forum uses. Here's what I discovered can fix the problem:

    All the photos I use here I made on the iPhone. Before I add a photo to a post, I send it to my email address and from there I save it in a Sawmill Creek folder on my desktop. Then I open the photo there and turn it 90 four times in succession, or as many times as needed to get it to register right-side-up. Then I save it and close it. I also usually rename it so I can be sure which one it is. Now it's ready to upload by the file name, using the little green icon of the tree in the menu above.

    Try it. I hope it helps.

    (The site page claims I can add a photo from my phone, but the app it mentions is nowhere I can find, so that ain't happening. I always just use the laptop.)

  7. #7
    I chose Brazilian Cherry out of the scrap bin, it was either that or hard maple. I like the looks of the cherry better.

    I sourced the 24" ACME rod, 6 nuts, 2 spherical washers, and 2 oilite bronze bushings (for use in the front chop to prevent wear and make it slide smoother) from McMaster. The plated handwheels came from MSC.

    I had to buy a 5 TPI ACME bit for the lathe which was rather costly for a one off project, but I justified it because I enjoy having tools that allow me to create new things.

    I locked the ACME rod in the rear chop, so the front chop adjusts. Originally I wanted the handwheels to turn the rod which would prevent the front projection of the rods. This would create way too much drag. So instead I locked the rods with the nuts, which can easily be loosened to turn the rod in or out to increase/decrease capacity. I have yet to move them, they just aren't in the way, and I have about 2.5" of capacity where they are currently, and just over 4" of capacity when I unscrew them.

    It was a fun build, and quite frankly a must have accessory, and I couldn't be happier with it. So far, I have found no improvements that I should have done. We'll see as more time goes by.
    IMG_20200328_214452483.jpg

    IMG_20200328_200119255.jpg

    IMG_20200329_124805926_HDR (1).jpg
    Last edited by Jason Meinholz; 05-27-2020 at 3:51 PM.

  8. #8
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    Jason, thank you for the details of your build. You found a very nice scrap bin! Now I have several more questions. I hope you don't mind.

    What is the ID of your bronze bushings? I've been puzzling over how to add bronze to protect the front-chop holes, but I've stopped short of moving ahead with round bushings, thinking that the holes need to be given a small elongation in the horizontal direction only. Benchcrafted recommends an extra 3/16" in the horizontal direction. Does your vise any play in it to enable the chop to pivot in or out, left-to-right? If so, don't you also have the same amount of swivel slack for top-to-bottom pivot? I notice you have leveling washers on the front.

    What is that hinged part for on the back of the rear chop?

    Boy, taking the plunge for that 1" - 5 Acme thread bit will be a nice luxury. You could probably make back the cost by making wheels for others, although it seems that most Moxon makers go with 3/4" - 6 rods.

    Also, nice fix on the photos!

  9. #9
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    Hey, I think I’ve got it. McMaster-Carr sells bronze bushings for the 3/4” ID that are 1/8” thick. They can be filed out inside, left and right, to elongate the hole without altering the up-and-down dimension. I just need a round 3/4” wide file. I think I’ll try going that route.
    Last edited by Bob Jones 5443; 05-28-2020 at 3:10 AM.

  10. #10
    Bob, I.D. of the bushings is 1-1/8". Spherical washers are nice for clamping uneven pieces in the vise. You're right, most do go with 3/4", I just prefer the 1", it seems sized more appropriately for the size of the overall vise.

  11. #11
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    This gives you a little play for the rods, 1/16" all around. We're told that's good to have side to side as we can then shimmy the chop in on the work, but I'm curious how the up-and-down play works out for you. Benchcrafted has us thinking we need to be tight on that dimension. I've assumed that's to make sure the tops the chops line up. Any problems with yours that way?

    I wouldn't think an up/down wobble would matter much by the time you cinch up on the work, unless the part is only a couple of inches deep (but then you wouldn't need the Moxon). Mostly I'm wondering about the tops of the chops.

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