Makevember 24th A shackle for a leg vice

I’ve got another leg vice, it needs a bit of restoration and some new parts making. Tonight I refurbished the shackle that holds it all together.

I bought two leg vices some time ago. I’ve already blogged about the larger one and mounting it on a sturdy table. The smaller one of the two was in poorer condition.

Aside from the rust… It needs a bit of sorting out.

The mount (heart shaped bit with the bolts and holes) gets attached to a table top. the vice and spring gets leant up against it, then the shackle holds it all together and is held in place with a key and a wedge.

There is no spring. There is no wedge. The shackle has seen much abuse. The key has been replaced with a thinner one which has bent and stretched a bit. Leg vices see a lot of abuse. This is no exception.

However, isn’t it lovely that the mount doesn’t have neatly organised holes. Isn’t it lovely that the whole thing is full of marks from making. There are folds and cold shuts everywhere on the shackle. It’s been made quick, probably on piecework and it has lasted all this time. Obviously it needs to fit together better than it currently does.

So, I tossed it in the forge. Heated it nice and red. I used the pointy flat end of my euro style anvil as that could get in between the two legs and hammered the two legs of the shackle flat. The sides had bulged from where the holes for the key had been punched, so I tapped those flat. This will tighten up the slot for the key a bit.

Then I put it back in the forge, got it nice and red again. Flattening the legs had opened up the shackle quite a bit, so I put the shackle in the bigger leg vice – the big sister, used that to neatly squish it back to square. It’s always amazing how little force is needed to move metal when it is hot. This presented a slight problem because I couldn’t grip the shackle in the vice, it ether fell out or would squish to a really different shape if I gripped it harder.

In the end, I heated it up again, and while holding it with tongs, i gradually closed the vice until the shackle was close to the correct size. I then moved the mount into the gap and used the mount to press the shackle into the fixed jaw of the vice. I could then put down the tongs and nip the vice up tight.

I’m quite pleased with the eventual fit. It is now “fitted”. The parts interface well together. I managed to avoid bending the centre of the shackle too!

So, there you go. Looks tight, fitted and straight. Just like new – even though it still bears the marks of the guy who first bashed it out, probably over 100 years ago. I’m really pleased with it.

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