Saturday, January 29, 2011

The base

I was thinking I should continue for now with the fly fishing theme, since that is what has been occupying the extra space in my thoughts for the past few weeks. Tying flies is more than just making some bait for fishing, it is a relaxing hobby that can be done solo or along with a group of friends. For me each tying session I am involved in becomes more than just tying some feathers or deer hair onto some hooks, it becomes a learning session, whether alone or not. Tying flies is a satisfying hobby that can be a working piece of art, or at least that's the way I see it when I look at most flies tied by the pros.
In order to tie these pretty flies you need a good tying vise and a good sturdy base. I have seen a good many vises of all different types so you have to shop around to find one that suits your needs and price range. They can definitely be found, I found my vise for thirty dollars not on sale. Some people will try to sell you on reasoning that if you didn't pay top dollar then your flies and fishing quality will be inferior, I usually laugh a little and say "Probably, but at least I'll be enjoying myself." If you can afford the best, then of course, by all means, buy the best; but if you can't afford "the best" then make do with what you can get or make, because life is too short to worry about what others might think.

The base that came with my vise was a little chintzy and was designed to clamp onto the edge of a table. A base of that sort while it worked for me for a while, was just not what I wanted. A few of my friends have beautiful vises and bases to match, they really are picture perfect and they work very well. These bases that they have are essentially what I wanted, a heavy chunk of granite. They are nice because your vise is then locked into the base which just sets on the table in front of you, and then when your wife brings you a snack, or dinner is ready, you can easily set your tying vise and other paraphernalia aside without having to unthread a bolt and remove the clamp from the table so that you have room for a plate of food in front of you instead of a fistful of deer hair and what-not. I however, being the type of person who tries to stand out in a crowd just enough to not feel like I am the crowd, had to make a base for myself that was a little different. At first I was using just a large piece of Bird's Eye maple, it worked ok, but was a little to bulky to my liking and not heavy enough(it moved around a lot while I was working with it). So after fooling around with that base for a while I decided that I would look around for something that would work a little better,....this is what I came up with.

The vise itself as I mentioned earlier is one that I purchased, the base though is the point of interest. I found in my pile of odds and ends in my workshop a piece of steel that is about 4 to 6 inches square and about a half of an inch thick, this as you can imagine has some substantial weight to it and does not move around on me unless I want it to. I also found a piece of steel piping left over from a motorcycle project. The way I made it work is this: The piece of pipe had a plastic end cap that was very snug inside of it so I drilled the cap to fit the shaft of my vise very snug. Using the same size drill bit in my drill press I also made a hole in the steel plate so the shaft would go through the pipe's cap and into the steel plate making it nice and sturdy. I wanted the pipe to be affixed to the plate in a manner so as not to fall apart or break easily. The only way I could do that was to fire up the welder. After the welds cooled down a bit I found some bondo, which it turned out that the hardener for it was a little old and had been frozen a few times, but at any rate it did eventually harden up enough and that is what I smoothed out the welds with. As a little extra help I added a magnet from an old speaker just to help keep track of those tiny hooks I use.

So as it turned out, my new base is pretty ugly when compared to those of my friends bases, because steel and bondo just doesn't compare to polished granite. I do have to say though that I like my base and a few friends have said that looks don't matter. I'm still not sure if they meant me or my base, but I'll try to be an optimist and assume they meant my base. Stay tuned in for more updates while I think up something new to post, and remember what Red Green said, "If women can't find ya handsome, they should at least find ya handy".

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