Restored Book Vise

Restored Book Vise
Restored Book Vise

The Guild recently received a book vise courtesy of one of the members. The vise is used to clamp a book so that its spine can be worked on. The head of the vise rotates through 180 degrees so that both sides can be addressed without needing to move from in front of the machine. It can be used for rounding and backing, although it does not offer any specific facilities to do those tasks.

The vise has had a hard life amongst students and apprentices and as a result had not been terribly well looked after. Having said that, it was still in reasonable condition mechanically, but it was not something that you would want to put a new book any where near.

Two members took the vise apart, cleaned everything, made sure it was all working, painted it and reassembled it. It now looks the part and works well.

This picture shows it restored, in the open position. The two pedals at the base are used to clamp either the base of the book or the top of the book when viewed from the front of the vise.
Vise as delivered

The vise was covered in glue, grease and dirt, and a good few hours were spent with degreasers and solvents. As well as trying to keep track of all the bits that were taken off, decisions were made about what to keep in its found condition, and what should be repainted. As some of the clamp pieces were not original, (one leaf was brass, one was chrome plated steel), it was decided to paint them completely. This not only provided a better look, but alos ensured a clean even surface for clamping with.

Head removed

As delivered, one of the two pedals was not causing a clamping action, and the other had only one of the two sides operating. It was therefore necessary to pull it all down and understand what was broken, which parts were missing, or generally what was causing the issues.

Luckily the problems were narrowed down to a chain guide roller missing, and a complete lack of lubrication. Once these were addressed, the mechanics started to operate correctly.

The way that the vise works is quite simple. Using the foot pedal pulls the cable, which is attached to the end of the chain. This is caused to rotate around the pulley, which flips the clamp sides up against the book. A locking mechanism in the foot pedal causes it to stay in place until it is depressed again. The springs on the sides of the clamp pull the clamp down, winding the chain back around the pulley.

Restored vise head

The head itself can be adjusted for the width of the book. The small wheel in the front and centre adjusts the two sides of the vise in or out. Both sides operate together, keeping the vise centred around the book. The wheel is duplicated on the other side, so that it does not matter which orientation the head is in.

The top wheels on each side of the vise allow the book support to be raised and lowered, catering for the differeng sizes of books. The wheels then fix the support in place whilst working on the book. The bottom wheels are the locking mechanims for the width of the book.

There are a few book supports missing, although these are easily constructed. They fit over the central support bar inside the vise, and can be used with curved supports to allow work on books that are already rounded. The metal sides of the clamp are very narrow, and so allow the use of a backing hammer to work on the book without impacting the vise.

Certainly the use of the rotating head makes this a convenient tool to use when working both sides of a book.