Introduction: DIY Mod for Portable AR-15 Pistol/Rifle Table Mag Vise Mount
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Tool Requirements: Intermediate
Time: One day
Cost: 45$ Approx.
Problem: I wanted a portable, table mounted AR "mag well" vise. None seemed to be commercially available.
Solution: I made an attachment for a Wheeler Delta Series AR-15 Mag Well Vise Block using a cheap monitor table mount. The outcome was great.
I found myself longing for some way to keep my AR-15 rifle standing pretty whenever I wanted to do some basic change to it, or for cleaning. To keep it quick and simple, I knew I'd want a mag well vise (the type of vise block you install like a magazine that locks itself in place). The issue was that, apparently, all the vise blocks that were available commercially seemed to either need a desktop gun vise (which kinda defeated the purpose of a mag well vise) or needed to be permanently installed to the table.
Since I tend to do a lot of my gunsmithing at my PC table, and I had no intention of drilling through my desk, I decided to find some way to clamp it to the desk, guessing that it wouldn't be that hard or expensive. After looking at clamps and not being too enthusiastic about the options, I decided that for the cost, I might as well use a monitor stand table clamp, given how strong and wide it was, which would make the mod a lot easier.
After the pieces arrived, I put myself to it, documenting the project, and given how well the result was, I decided to post it should someone else want to copy it or use it as inspiration. Enjoy!
Step 1: What You'll Need
*The following links are to either Amazon or Ebay. Item in parenthesis mean optional.
Whenever possible, I'll try to link the site with the lowest price, best service and if possible, free shipping; to help make things easier for you if you try to follow the project.
- Wheeler Delta Series AR-15 Mag Well Vise Block - 156211: This is the main part, as you can imagine. Given that it is pretty economical, adjustable, can be used for dry firing or bolt work, among other things; it was the perfect choice. If you are okay with simply installing it permanently or drilling your table to mount it, then this would be all you'd need.
- LCD Monitor Desk Mount Stand: After looking at the options (mostly C clamps), I decided that for the money, a monitor mount would be the cheapest and best option to get a beefed up clamp which wouldn't damage the table, and have a base wide enough to mount the mag well vise directly to it. It was cheap enough to buy the whole thing just to use the clamp, and keep the rest as scrap metal for other projects. I ended up happy with choosing this method.
- Dremel Tool: For roughing up the surface before epoxying, cutting bolts and other miscellaneous small cuts.
- Drill Press or Milling Machine: Because rotary hand drills are so last season.
- Bench Grinder: Simply for roughing up the coupler nuts. The dremel can be used instead in a pinch.
- (Sand Paper): For sanding the base if your a perfeccionist. If using a milling machine it is simply for aesthetic reasons. If you are using a drill press it might be more necessary.
- Drill Bits: To drill the holes for the adapter.
- Chamfering Bit: To make space for the countersunk screw heads.
- Hobby Knife: For a variety of touch ups and other uses.
- Level: Used to level the vise before laying the epoxy. I prefer the circular type for leveling in both directions at the same time.
- Center Punch: For marking the hole centers on the clamp.
- 4x 1/4-20 Countersunk Bolts, length 5/8" (15mm): These will be used to mate the vise to the clamp.
- 2 Part Quick Setting Epoxy: I just used whatever epoxy I had laying around. The strength of cold weld metallic epoxy isn't needed. Any cheap resin epoxy is fine. Just try to make sure that it is of the type that dries hard and isn't a bit pliable when dry. Quick setting epoxy will make the project a lot easier and quicker.
- 4x 1/4-20 7/8" Coupler Nuts: Or you could just tap the epoxy once hardened, but I preferred to use threaded inserts. I ended up glad I did this since it seemed to be easier.
- Epoxy filler: When I want epoxy to fill voids, using a microballoon filler is ideal. It weights near nothing, and makes the epoxy both thicker and more paste like (in opposition to a viscous liquid) which is great for filling. Plus, it's cheaper than epoxy so that way I have to waste less of it.
- Epoxy Mixing Cups: Once you try cheap, disposable, purpose made epoxy cups you'll never want to go back to using cut up pieces of cardboard ever again. Trust me.
- Mixing Spatulas: The same goes for the spatulas. Epoxy doesn't stick to them, so you can reuse them until they break. One bag will last you a lifetime.
- Popsicle Sticks: Or anything else to level the coupler nuts. You'll understand once you reach that step.
Step 2: Fill in the Empty Space
So we begin.
I wanted to fill in the gap at the bottom to avoid wasting so much epoxy ($$$) or making the thing heavier than needed. Feel free to use paper or whatever else you have on hand. I found that packing peanuts could be cut to size for the perfect result.
Step 3: Fill the Bottom With Epoxy
Use the cheapest epoxy you can find and simply fill the base over the filler material so you don't have to fill the whole bottom. Or you could just fill the bottom if you have more epoxy than patience laying around. Try to keep below the ribbing since you'll need that space.
Once your satisfied, give it a while so it can dry.
Step 4: Rough It Up
Use a dremel tool to rough up the inside so the epoxy sticks better.
You'll also have to remove the little radiused edge on the ribbing which sticks above the "epoxy floor". It's just to make more lateral space for the coupler nuts.
Step 5: Rough Up the Coupler Nuts
The coupler nuts (found in the bolt aisle of your local Home Despot) avoid us having to thread the epoxy. Some epoxies can be threaded, some shouldn't. Since I was using cheap epoxy, this was the better option. Also, tapping blind holes to the bottom require special taps, and this way I avoided the problem.
Just use your bench grinder to give some shape to the coupler nuts so they are mechanically locked in place by the epoxy.
Step 6: Epoxy the Coupler Nuts in Place
I used a popsicle stick to locate the coupler nuts in place more or less vertically. It worked perfectly (to my surprise, honestly). Just install them one by one. I was using quick epoxy, which I recommend for this. Since it dries in around 5 minutes, the epoxy was pretty much hard by the time I was satisfied with the position of the nut, so I could install the next one straight away. I made markings on the stick to keep alignment. You want the cross to be symmetrical so the vise is reversible on the clamp (which wasn't the hard in practice). Try to keep the coupler nuts just level with the surface. You might want to shorten the coupler nuts a bit prior to epoxying if you would have trouble removing the "excess" nut after epoxying (I used a mill). Also, use some electrical tape to seal the bottom of the coupler nuts to avoid any epoxy getting in there.
For the last layer, I used a pinch of black pigment in the resin to give it a professional touch. Just use enough to level the surface. Make sure your mag well vise is perfectly leveled in all directions before laying the last layer! If you have a milling machine at hand, you can slightly overflow it and later mill it flat.If not, I'd honestly slightly underfill it so you don't have to sand or machine (with a dremel) any epoxy away.
Step 7: Leave the Base Flat
I used a milling machine to leave it perfectly flat, but you may want to simply be extra careful with the positioning of the coupler nuts and the epoxy so it is flat and level naturally.
By the way, if anyone has any tips for avoiding bubbles in quick setting epoxy, I'm all ears.
Step 8: Make a Guide of the Holes on the Vise
I just used a little piece of paper to mark the position of the holes and their centers. Just run a lead pencil over the holes to get an outline.
Use a center punch to transfer the drill locations to the clamp. Make sure your accurate about it.
Step 9: Mark the Center of the Holes, Drill and Chamfer
Pretty self explanatory if you have a drill, I hope. With luck you'll have at least a drill press available. Try to make sure that the cross is symmetrical so you'll be able to mount the vise with the rifle pointing in either direction. You might as well test if the holes align with the vise prior to chamfering. Then just chamfer the holes so the countersunk bolts fit flush to the surface under to foam.
Step 10: And We're Just About Done!
Just assemble. Let's hope you were spot on with the drill locations. If not, I'd imagine you are going to be in a pretty bad mood right about...now.
Step 11: Done!
So that's it!
Now you have a portable, table mounted gun vise you can use either at home for cleaning, or at the range to have more table space. You can rotate the vise 180 degrees if you want the rifle pointing the other direction, but for quick things you can simply place it that way even though it doesn't lock.
Hopefully this was of use to anyone. Thanks for reading!