Vises have their vices as do I. One of my vices is I have too many vises. But I don't have very many genuine speed vises. Being as impatient as the next guy I get pretty frustrated when I am doing a project and I have to fool with a vise with a handle that drops. Now real speed vises are mechanically difficult to replicate with most manufactured vises so I've devised a simple solution that involves wrapping some wire around the handle in a particular way that keeps the handle from falling down and lets me maintain the handle's balance as I turn it in, or out.
This greatly facilitates the speed which I can adjust a vise, and consequently makes me a happy guy. I like this idea so much I've done with all of my regularly used vises in my workshop.
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Step 1: Determine Wire Gauge
I base what gauge wire I am going to use on the size of the vise I wish to modify. Usually larger vises have larger, and heavier handles, so I use thicker gauge wires with them. My regular go to wire for large vises is coat hanger wire. But I have a twisty on my Panavise. So I pretty much run the gamut of wire gauge selection with this trick. I always use solid wire to do this. I do not think stranded wire is suitable for this application at all.
Step 2: Determine Length
My school of thought here is go big as I can always trim to fit. For large vises where I use a coat hanger the length I get out of a cut coat hanger is ideal to start out with. So I just cut the twisted up hook part off.
Step 3: Get Bent
My wire wrapping is symmetrical so it stands to reason that bending the wire in the middle is how to begin.
Step 4: Wrap It All Up
Slip the bent wire behind the handle on the screw, then wrap it 3 times around the handle on either side. Neatness counts. Now bring the ends back together and give them a bend around each other. Follow the images to get the idea.
Step 5: Spin Spin Spin!
No more struggling to keep the handle balanced while you're spinning it. Isn't it great? On really smoothly operating vises you can just about go through their range of motion with one good whip. Of course if you need the full handle length to really crank down on something you can still do that too. I don't miss that clunking sound all of my vise handles used to make when they fell down at all. I bet you won't either.
I think I really invented this because the first vise I did this on had the rather annoying habit of pinching my finger when its handle fell down. Ouch that hurt! But I grew to love this because I no longer had to try to balance the handle with one hand while spinning it, holding work in my other hand.
It's the little things ...