Clampable Tool Bases

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About: Desktop Support Technician by day ... Occasional hired gun rock drummer by night ... DIY home improvement enthusiast on weekends - maker of whatever I can imagine in between it all. I'm also a professional l...

It's been said that limitations lead to creativity. I'm not sure who said it, nor when it happened ... I just heard it at least once and now I'm lifting it.

As a result of a second place win in an Instructables contest, I recently became the proud owner of a Yost vise, which is great because my workshop lacked this extremely useful tool.

Limitation: My workshop isn't laid out in a manner which lends itself to a permanent mounting location for a vise. The "workbench" multi-functions as a router table, as well as a table saw out feed table, so bolting a vise to the top isn't an viable option.

Solution: I make plywood bases for smallish and occasionally used bench top tools, which can then be clamped to my workbench or table saw top.

They are easy to make, take very little time, and in my opinion, extremely useful.

Supplies:

3/4" Plywood
5/16" Hex Bolts
5/16" Washers
5/16" T-nuts
The amount of time (or less) it takes to watch one episode of your favorite syndicated sitcom.

Step 1: Hole Layout

I make my bases out of 3/4" plywood and I like them to be just a bit larger than the footprint of the tool, so that clamps and be placed on any spot along the perimeter. However, a vise is a different animal, so that parameter changes.
1. I wanted more material towards the back for balance.
2. The front edge needs to be cut close to the base so that you can actually clamp long stock and turn the handle.

Once I had my desired position, I cut the board down to size [12" x 18"], laid out the hole locations, and punched the holes with an awl.

Step 2: Drilling

I like to attach my tools to the bases using bolts and T-nuts. On the bottom side of the board, I use a 7/8" forstner bit to drill a hole deep enough for the flange of the T-nut to sit below the surface.
Note: Below the surface is important. If it's proud of the surface, it' going to wobble. Even worse, it could scratch your workbench and/or cast iron tabletops.

The 7/8" bit is changed out for a 3/8" in order to drill the through hole, which will accommodate a 5/16" bolt.
Tip: When drilling plywood with a forstner bit (and even brad tipped bits), I set my depth stop so that the center point just barely touches my drill press table. This allows me to drill most of the way through and provides a center reference, so that I can flip the board and finish the hole from the opposite side in order to eliminate veneer blowout.

Once the holes are drilled, tap in the T-nuts with a hammer. My carpenter hammer was on a job site, so I used a 5lbs sledge.

Step 3: Bolt Shortening

I never seem to have the perfect bolt for the job at hand ... they are either too long or too short. I have yet to successfully stretch a bolt, but cutting them down is no problem.

My go to method is to mark the bolt, cut it off with and angle grinder and cut off wheel, then deburr it using a 1" strip sander. Other options could be: bolt cutters, hack saw, cold saw, metal cutting bandsaw, etc.
Tip: Thread on a nut before you mark and cut the bolt. This way, if any of the threads get deformed, the nut with set them straight as you unthread it.

Step 4: Attaching and Marking

Slide a washer onto each bolt, get them started in to holes, and snug them up with a socket or box wrench.

This is a good time time ensure that your bolts aren't too long and protruding through the bottom - because that will lead to the afore mentioned wobble and scratching problems. If they are too long, just grind them down until they aren't.

If you have a stencil and spray paint, feel free to brand your work. For me, it's an embedded watermark for pictures and video ... I also like spray paint.

Step 5: Clamped and Ready for Action

I store the vise on the bottom shelf of my workbench. When I need it, I just muscle it up to the bench and clamp it down. If the bench is full, I can just as easily clamp it to the top of my table saw.

Other Benefits
1. I can easily take the tool to another location (outside, job site, friend's shop) without having to unbolt it from a bench or table.
2. For lighter tools (small bench grinder, pocket hole jigs, your Nutribullet), I add holes to two adjacent corners, so that I can hand them on a wall.
3. Some tools have cast bases, which are open on the bottom and have sharp edges waiting to scratch your work surfaces. A plywood base is a good solution.

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    9 Discussions

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    DavidE163

    21 days ago

    I have done this with my vise, bench grinder and Kreg Jig but I set the bases up so that I can clamp them in my folding chopsaw stand, which makes those bench tools portable. My workshop is in my basement and I often move my operation outside to avoid making dust, so this works out great for me.

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    Jobar007

    25 days ago

    If you added locating holes on your workbench and the tool base (with drop in pins), it would prevent torque being applied to the tool being applied to the clamp and loosening the grip. Since they are removable pins, you wouldn't have the problem of fixed pins interfering with using this in another location or with normal function of the bench. Does what I'm saying make sense?

    2 replies
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    -BALES-Jobar007

    Reply 25 days ago

    Yep. My table top is a laminated chip board product, so the holes would chip out in record time, but that's a good suggestion. If you standardized the holes, it could become a full on modular system.

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    DavidE341-BALES-

    Reply 24 days ago

    I also was thinking about the torque applied to the base by using the vise (and how those clamps to the workbench and table saw will not be adequate). In your case it might be a good idea to come up with a constant-base modular system that is bolted to your workbench using the same T-nuts (underneath the workbench top) that you used to mount the vise but in a standardized bolt hole pattern so other platforms could be built/used. Then you would have a very sturdy mount system for all sorts of randomly-used power/large tools to the workbench.

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    riff raff

    25 days ago

    Great idea. My dad was doing this forty years ago, lol. (Along with sanders and grinders and small planers.)

    1 reply
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    LeslieGeee

    25 days ago

    Thank you for sharing your idea Bales, its a good one :)

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    Shadoweclipse13

    25 days ago

    I love it! Last year I built a 4' × 6' assembly table with t-track, and I've been thinking about adding some tools like this on boards that could fit into the t-track quickly.

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    seamster

    26 days ago

    Nice and simple. Congrats on the new vise!! : D