Introduction: DIY Carving Vise

About: Liked to draw and paint when I was growing up. Switched to carving and sculpture in my twenties. Work in wood, stone / marble, plaster, and ceramic clay.

Attach wood for carving and rotate or change angles to any position.

Step 1: Getting Started

Tools needed:

pipe wrench for tightening up everything
access to an angle grinder or bench grinder for metal
3/4 inch wrench that can be dedicated to this project ( or you can purchase a handle - 3/8 inch course thread )
screw driver and screws


I will list the materials as I go through the build.

Basically the parts are plumbing pipe and flanges.
Above is a picture of the base. I used a 3/4 inch flange and then reduced down to 1/2 inch pipe size with a 3/4" x 1/2" bushing. I did this to give a little more strength to the base but the unit is very strong and you could just use a 1/2" flange if you wanted. This would save a little money on the bushing as well.

The base can be screwed to a bench top or to a wood base for clamping to a bench top.

Assemble the parts but do not tighten just yet.

Step 2: The Basic Support

The height is achieved by adding a 4" long by 1/2 inch diameter nipple to the bushing.
( a nipple is a short pipe threaded on both ends )

You could make this taller of course. I used a length that gave me a comfortable height above my bench.

Next comes a 1/2 inch 'T'. The bottom of the T is screwed onto the nipple and two short nipples are screwed into each end of the T.

Again, don't tighten at this point, merely assemble as a dry fit.

Step 3: The Eye Bolt and Bell Reducer

The end that holds the work is a bell reducer - 1 1/2" x 1/2".

As you can see, I have ground grooves in the larger end. These will fit to the pipe that actually attaches to the wood.

To make these grooves I marked for vertical, horizontal, and the 45 degree positions in between. Use the half inch pipe or nipple you make for holding the wood ( in the next step ), as a guide for the depth and shape of the grooves. The vise will work without the grooves but the grip is not very strong. I highly recommend that you grind these notches into the bell reducer.

The eye bolt is 3/8 inch thread. The fit of the eye bolt to the bell reducer and the eye being big enough to hold a 1/2" pipe are both critical.

The best and simplest way to assure everything fits is to test all the parts as you buy them, in the hardware store.

Step 4: Final Assembly

In this picture I used a 3/4 inch flange and reduced down to 1/2 inch pipe in order to have a larger base for fastening wood. You can also use a 1/2 inch flange for smaller carvings. This way you can have several flanges in different sizes available to work with.

The eye bolt goes through the bell reducer and the T with a washer and nut on the other end. I used a long nut commonly used to join threaded rod together. The size is 3/8 inches, course thread. The eye bolt is 3/8 inch by eight inches long. The washer is 3/8 inches as well.

It is not that important that you use the sizes I have given, but things must fit together. Again just testing in the tore should guarantee success.

The pipe holding the carving goes through the eye of the bolt. Tightening the nut with a wrench will draw in the bolt and hold the work securely in any position. You will be surprised how well this holds.

Once you know everything fits as it should, disassemble and put it all back together with either lock tite or a glue of your choice. You don't want it to loosen up a you carve. This is where the pipe wrench will be needed.

You can now use your vise for carving.
Simply attach your wood with screws and have at it.

... or ...

You might want to fancy it up a bit. Just to impress the neighbours.

Step 5: Finishing

OK. So I am not as good at the fancy part as some guys are. I am sure you could make it look nicer if you choose to.

I picked up some epoxy glue that is meant for steel.

I glued the washer to the 'T' so as to make it one unit.

The wrench is one specific to this project. It need not be especially strong or guaranteed for life. A trip to the dollar store should turn up a decent box end, 3/4 inch wrench, which will work fine. I used the grinder to cut this wrench so as to make a 3 inch handle. I then slid the box end over the long nut and fixed it in place with a generous amount of epoxy glue.

I had some aluminum rust paint handy and gave everything a coat.

It could be made to look nicer but I will probably have it looking a little less new in a few weeks anyway.