We all have been through an irritating time where we wished to have an extra set of hands to hold things while working on them.
Soon you will feel this exact way once your rough structure of a knife is ready. So why not save some time and learn about this vital tool before foraying into the skillful and artistic world of bladesmithing.
As most of you artists must have noticed, today we are talking about vises!
We are sure you have one in your shop, but a knife vise is a little different than our standard vise and is specifically made for working with knives.
If you are someone new to wood and metalworking, we would like to take you on a knowledgeable ride of knife vise basics.
What Is A Knife Vise?
A knife vise is an extremely popular, essential, versatile, and simple device made especially for knives.
These knife vises fall under the broad category of a general vise, but since our use is particular, the instrument itself has a different mouthpiece.
This knife vise is usually operated with the help of simple mechanics and is generally operated manually.
The device uses a knob locking mechanism to fit the knife into the cavity, so it doesn’t move around.
The base of this instrument can be easily fixed on any counter in numerous ways to keep the entire device and the knife in its place.
A knife vise will not work well if it isn’t mounted well at the base to provide strength and stability.
This vise has a little screw mechanism that opens and closes the instrument’s jaws to hold the knife firmly.
If you are looking for a trusty way to hold your semi-completed knife, a knife vise is the best and safest working device to help you make a beautiful and sharp knife.
This tool is bound to come in extremely handy in all your future knife-making projects.
What Is A Knife Vise Used For
You can use a knife vise in multiple ways when it comes to making knives. Imagine you had a long day of skillfully sculpting and sharpening your brand new blade.
You cannot use the blade as is; you will surely need a decent and well-made handle to attach the blade to.
Now since the knives are incredibly sharp, you cannot risk anyone holding the edges while you adjust and fit the wooden handle at the end.
During such times, a knife vise makes your job a lot easier and safer. You can fix the blade into the cavity, and the knife can seamlessly fit the exposed wooden part for the process of sanding and sculpting.
All woodworkers know the importance of having a smooth and perfect handle that fits onto the user’s hands and provides excellent grip.
To get the hold, one needs to sculpt out a few bumps and make it grippier and user-friendly.
A knife vise again comes at your service for smoothening out the raw piece of wood into an excellent-looking handle.
These vises also hold the blades in several different positions so you can get a full 360°work view.
Again, you can use the vise for hand sanding, finish the handles, file working on the spines, and polishing.
You cannot complete your newly sculpted and smoothened project without polishing it with wax and rag for the most anticipating reveal of the product.
These vises come in handy as the user can apply as much pressure as he wants and access all the sides of the handles without any disturbances.
The knife vise allows you to do all the finishing touches; while keeping the blades safe in a secure casing.
Features Of A Good Knife Vise
Everyone can buy or make a knife vise, but it is imperative to know all the required and extra features that will help you get your hands on the most valuable and sound working vise in the industry.
Length of the blade housing
While many driven makers hurry on buying, they forget to check the actual length of the blade encasing part.
Since we want to keep the edge under pressure and covered, so it doesn’t move, most vises are designed to have an exposed end from where the tip of the knives comes out.
This open mouth can be very dangerous for you; therefore, you need to make sure the device you buy sufficiently covers the entire length of the blade.
If you plan to make different knives, we highly suggest buying a giant vise to fit even the longest knife with ease.
Sturdy and mountable base
A decent quality knife vise has an excellent and thick base to add weight to the entire device and a high-quality mounting base.
This base can either be affixed to the counter horizontally or vertically. If the device has a quality base and lets you adjust the vise anywhere you want, it is indeed a good knife vise.
As you will be working on all the nooks and crannies of the handle, you want a device that lets you rotate the stand 360° for a better and quicker polishing process.
Otherwise, you will have to dismantle the entire instrument to access the underside of the handle.
Your knife vise needs to be made out of thick heavy-duty metal. The whole device would end up being useless if the middle portion or base cracks and falls apart.
Ensure that the entire tool is coated with rust-proof paint and is heavily varnished to increase the life by many seasons.
The lining is the primary material that will be in contact with the knife’s blades.
Ensure the lining is ultra-smooth and plain; otherwise, it has a hard chance of leaving an indentation on the freshly shaped and sharpened blades.
A wood chip or cork lining is the most ideal for any tool. A rubber lining is also an excellent way to keep your blade safe and avoid unwanted scratches and scruffs.
If the lining gets destroyed, you can dismantle the entire mechanism to add your lining for a smooth working experience.
Multiple locking points
As the whole device relies on the screws, you need to ensure that the vise has multiple locking points.
These numerous points help to keep the entire blade safe by providing equal pressure distribution.
If you were to buy a tool with a single locking point, it would create a weak seal that causes the blade to move while you shape the handle.
Thus having multiple locking points help keeps the edge tight and, most importantly- in place.
The jaw gap
This jaw gap is essential if you are going to make different types of blades of various thicknesses.
The knife maker’s vise needs to have a wide enough jaw gap to accommodate even the thicker blades.
The opening is not an issue if you have an open vise, but if the vise is made out of an enclosed tube, you might have to buy a more oversized tube to fit all sorts of blades.
Knife Vise DIY
Buying or making depends on you and the various factors of the project.
If you are a budding creator who does not know working with metals, we highly recommend buying.
If you have various odd tools and heavy metals lying around, then, by all means, consider making for yourself.
If you find it hard to take out time to make one decent-looking sturdy vise, purchasing it can be a good option.
Not everyone wishes to spend their time making tools; If you are short on cash and do not wish to spend a lot on a new instrument, making yourself isn’t a bad option.
With the internet, you have access to many tutorials that teach you how to make different knife makers vise from the oddest materials.
Some are even made from PVC or bungee cord; if you want to try the DIY method, we highly recommend making one.
You can have a look at Walter Sorrell’s video on how to make the easiest and quickest makeshift knife vise.
He has used a relatively easy method to create a fundamental model that would suffice if you are starting.
He used a simple thick metal tube, wooden dowels, and threaded adjustable knobs to create a perfectly working device.
You can change the pipe’s dimension if you plan to make a giant instrument for bigger knives.
Note: If you wish to use rubber instead of wood where the plates meet the blade, we highly recommend gluing a thin coat of rubber sheets on the wood. A plain rubber sheet would not create the kind of pressure we want.
If you feel that you can go for a heavy-duty knife vise, Texas knifemaker supply makes one of the highest quality knife vises on the market.
The design is simple enough to maneuver quickly and sturdy enough to last for many years and guarantees usefulness for all types of projects apart from knife making.
We hope our mini-guide on knife vise helped determine whether you need one or not.
We apologize for bursting your bubble; yes, if you wish to continue making high-quality knives, it is of utmost importance that you invest in a good quality vise or, better yet, make yourself one at home!