Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Bench #3 - Leg vise rollers
My prototype rollers weren't the greatest. So as I was leafing through my Grainger and Reid Supply catalogs to get some ideas for better rollers, my older and much wiser brother suggested I use some skateboard wheels. So I headed down to the local skate shop. I told the owner about my vise plan over his billiard cue lathe (he had some cue stick blanks on the counter in some of the nicest bird's-eye maple I've ever seen) then he ducked into the basement and came back with a box of mismatched skateboard parts from probably two decades ago. He tossed me three large urethane wheels and a bag of 4 ball bearings, plus a couple shaft bolts. I wasn't sure if I could use the wheels or not. And he wasn't too confident that the urethane could be turned or sawed. He said the wheels were mine if I wanted them for nothing, plus $5 for the bearings. So I took the parts home and pondered my options. I figured for $5, it was worth a try.
I made a quick fixture for holding the wheel so I could get rid of some of the excess material on the bandsaw. The wheels have a recess for a bearing on each side, so I decided to cut away material right up to the edge of the recess, leaving the final width at 1". I was a bit nervous about cutting the urethane. It's a rubbery-like material, and I wasn't sure if the blade might grab the wheel and fling it across the shop like a retro projectile. So I opted to stand behind the saw and pull the fixture into the blade in case something went awry. The urethane actually cut nicely, making mostly dust, and only a few rubbery clumps now and then. I didn't get any grabbing or galling of the material.
To cut the other side of the wheel to final width I decided it was safe enough to push it through from the front.
Now that I had the wheel at the final width it was time to turn down the diameter a little, to about 2-3/8". I mounted the wheel on a chuck and used a worn out tail center (the point was long gone, it's just a stubby taper) to hold it steady.
Surprisingly the urethane turned fairly easily. I was getting rubbery shavings, but the gouge was cutting nicely, and not catching. I used a square nose scraper (it worked!) to finish it off nice and flat. Gone was the high gloss of the original wheel, but this is fine for my purposes.
The ball bearings fit in nicely, and after I build a couple brackets to house the rollers, I think they should work well.