Yesterday I received an early Christmas present to myself, a PanaVise 396 Wide Opening Head. (The word wide here seems to be defined by PanaVise Products, Inc. as 6.5″ with rubber boots installed). This approx. $50 gift to myself, along with a cool new soldering iron earlier this year, are ways to motivate myself to get back to a moribund project I started a couple of years ago, the TenTec SSB DX listening radio.
Like all the best tool purchases, as soon as I got it out, I said to myself “why didn’t I get one of these years ago?” The answer is simple – while I could have used it for some projects, there were higher priorities. Just a few years ago, I didn’t even HAVE an electronics workbench, and my other workbenches steadfastly refused to give up enough room to share their hobby responsibilities. I immediately got it mounted up using three Stainless Steel 5/16-18 Y head bolts into some Brad Hole T-Nuts.
Mounting any kind of vise brings up a peccadillo I see often- vises mounted on benches with no other consideration than a little free space was available there. For traditional machinist’s vises (getting away from the traditional mounting on a knee-high bench for manual filing purposes), I prefer to mount the vise so that the rear (fixed) jaw is flush with the edge of the bench. That allows me a clamp a workpiece as tall as the floor without bending it.
For any kind of vise, you must consider whether knee space or strength matters more. Since this is a fine work vise, no large hammers will be involved, so there is no need to mount it directly over a bench leg for solidity. Most vises mount near the edge. For the PanaVise, mounting considerations a little more complex. I can see two practicable mountings. One is a couple feet inland, where you can brace your elbows on the bench while soldering or other fine work. This is perfectly valid, but I chose to put it near the edge of the bench, where I can use my magnifying lamp to best effect, in addition to the whole hang-over-the-edge thing.
Tip: The second and third holes are the hardest, as they have to match the spacing of the vise base. Use a 1/8″ (give or take) bit to drill a pilot-hole dead-center through the base hole, remove the base, then use the big drill bit.
- Corded Drill or Cordless Drill/Driver
- 3/8″ Twist drill bit
- Leather Hollow Punch (optional, used if you are mounting through an anti-static mat)
- PanaVise 396 (or PanaVise of your choice)
- 5/16-18 Brad Hole T-Nuts
- Stainless Steel 5/16-18 Y head bolts (aka Machine Screws)