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Tools for the Amateur Riflesmith
The tool I use most, other than the workbench itself, is the vise.
This is a 4-inch "Wilton" machinist vise, about $400 worth. It's the very best you can buy, and thank God I got it as a gift. I got this new over thirty years ago and have abused it in every way, even welding things in the jaws. It's as good as new. If at all possible, look at the vise you intend to buy, rather than buying from a catalog (unless it's a Wilton). A 4-inch (jaw width) vise is big enough, with a swivel base. Mount the vise so that the rear jaw overhangs the edge of the bench, that way a long item can be held projecting clear to the floor if need be. If you don't have a permanent bench and can't use a bench vise, and/or if you have a drill press, a drill press vise works very well as a tabletop vise.
This is a 4-inch drill press vise, Chinese manufacture, about $12 from Wholesale Tool. It can be used on the table or drill press and will stand some pounding, as well as holding items to be heated. If the rear jaw is loose, fiddle around with the screw/plate assembly on the bottom.
This is a "Panavise", about $60. It comes with either metal or soft jaws and is adjustable in all directions. It should be mounted to a board to provide some stability. It can also be mounted in the middle of a metal pie pan on top of a board and the pan will hold all the little items, screws and such, while you work. It won't stand any beating and very little heat, but can hold things to be filed, glued or ground.
For any vise with steel jaws, you need to make or buy soft jaw covers. These can be aluminum, cardboard, wood, lead or copper, probably a selection of each. These will allow the grasping of smooth and/or polished items without marring of the items. Look for a vise with "replaceable" jaws. These vises will allow you to make your own jaws for special holding situations.
These are pin vises, the Chinese variety, $4 each, or $12 for a set of 4. I must have lost one J .
They are used to hold small, round things while filing, grinding, you get the idea. Each one has a small chuck on a handle. By the way, Wholesale has had a Rohm 1/4-inch drill chuck, WT P/N 1835-0090, on special at $5 for a couple of years, with key. This chuck has a 3/8x24 threaded mount, is made in Germany, and looks like it. If one were to get a 3/8x24 bolt about 5 inches long and put it on the chuck, it would make a dandy pin vise.
OK, I talked myself into it, see this link.
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