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Pen Makers' Center Drilling Vise

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  • One of the most difficult parts of pen-making is the centering of the bit on the pen blank, and keeping it firmly in place while the hole is drilled. This vise simplifies the procedure, because the vise faces ride on a knob-controlled set of two heavy threaded bolts and two smaller...

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    One of the most difficult parts of pen-making is the centering of the bit on the pen blank, and keeping it firmly in place while the hole is drilled. This vise simplifies the procedure, because the vise faces ride on a knob-controlled set of two heavy threaded bolts and two smaller rods. The knob adjustment makes original setup and changes very easy. Simply clamp the pen blank, set up under the drill bit and clamp the base. The center you now have will work for every subsequent pen blank, no matter what its size, up to 1-1/2" square. The aluminum vise parts are on a heavy plastic base, which is drilled through on first use. This vise helps reduce waste from off-center pen blank drilling.


    • Reduces waste from off-center pen blank drilling
    • Heavy base for stability
    • Eliminates the most difficult alignment issues with pen blank drilling
    • Vise faces ride on knob-controlled threaded rods and bolts
    • Fully adjustable for perfect centers

    Articles & Blogs

    “Woodcraft customers’ feedback led to a redesign of our pen case,” product development manager Ben Bice said. “They asked for more flexibility, specifically the ability to lie flat. We took the customer suggestions and went above and beyond.”

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    3.2 out of 5 stars
    15 Reviews
    1. 2.0 out of 5 stars
      by on

      Overpriced and poorly designed

      I can not speak to the sturdiness of this vise as it is still new. But I can see that it is poorly designed. The instructions indicate that you should put a "sacrificial board" under the jaws when clamping in a blank so when the drill gets through the blank it will contact wood instead of the aluminum base plate. That is impossible to do considering that the space beneath the sliding jaws is less than 1/16" inch. I wish I had read the other reviews before I purchased this.

    2. 1.0 out of 5 stars
      by on

      Stopped Working

      Worked OK for a while, but eventually gears locked up and could not get the jaws to open any more. Also experienced the flexing problem mentioned by another reviewer which causes uncentered holes.

    3. 4.0 out of 5 stars
      by on

      Does the job

      Bought this item when I started making pens. Works well and seems well built.

    4. 2.0 out of 5 stars
      by on

      Overpriced, Not Very Versatile

      I have owned this vice for a month, and have used it to make a few pens. So, that said, it does work in some capacity. Last week, I clamped a blank in the vise, and when I went to loosen it, the whole knob unthreaded on me. Rather than turning the internal gear mechanism, it simply spun right off the threaded length of bar it's mounted on. A little encouragement with some vice grips fixed that, but it was a pain, and wasn't very encouraging. I thought it was a poor design. In all fairness, my shop set up leaves a little to be desired. Sometimes, I need to improvise. I think this is made a little too cheaply for that kind of finagling. Bottom line: I have a feeling I should have spent the extra $40 and gone w/ the higher end version.

    5. 5.0 out of 5 stars
      by on

      I would buy this product again and again


    6. 1.0 out of 5 stars
      by on

      Once the main gear is lose, you are done

      I have been using this vise for about 3 years. When I first received it, I was more then pleased with it and it's performance. Then last week, it jammed on me. I could not turn the handle to close the jaws, so I backed it off a little and kept trying. But the vise would not close and eventually locked up. I disassembled the vise and found that the two gears were jammed against one another. After further investigation and finally getting the main gear off. I found that the shaft which the gear was on, was completely round. I expected to find a flat spot for the set screw to push against. I could tell that over time, the set screw was dragging over the surface of the shaft and finally had let go. I reassembled the vise and tightened the set screw. This only lasted a few turns before the gear moved again, jamming the two gears together. So, I will either disassemble the vise one more time and alter the shaft by using a grinder to create a flat area for the set screw to land on, or I will simply just go buy a different one.

    7. 5.0 out of 5 stars
      by on

      Very good, just what i needed

      I use it to drill out pin blanks does a good job

    8. 5.0 out of 5 stars
      by on

      This is a great device for penturners

      This is a great vise, not just centering pen blanks, but also for small ornament blanks.

    9. 4.0 out of 5 stars
      by on

      Good, Practical Tool

      Unit is ideal for center drilling pen blanks, however I wish it were made with a little more sturdy material. All in all a good buy.

    10. 4.0 out of 5 stars
      by on

      Good value for the $

      This is a good deal for the price. Nice weight makes it sturdy on the table. Clamping it to the table is recommended. Easy center set up by locking the press quill down and lightly clamping the vise on the bit, then clamping it to the table. The only "con" I notice so far is a slight flex to the alignment shafts when applying drilling pressure which could cause the bore to "elipse". I slide a couple pieces of cardstock between the jaws and the base to help support it. Other than that it is great for keeping blanks stable and maintaining a good center.

    11. 3.0 out of 5 stars
      by on

      OK with modification

      The problem with this vise is that it flexes from the pressure of the drill. A centered entry hole will give you an off-center exit hole. The fix is to place a small wood block below your pen blank, so all the pressure is transferred to the base of the vice: I use the waste pieces I saw off the blanks. I also set the depth gauge so the bit drills about a quarter-inch into the block.

    12. 4.0 out of 5 stars
      by on

      Gets the job done

      I like that I just have to set it up once & can use it for drilling any size blank--whether I'm making pens or bottle stoppers--it always has my material centered under the drill. Unlike other reviewers, I have not had any issues with the knob coming loose.

    13. 3.0 out of 5 stars
      by on

      Decent Vice for the Price

      Works good most times. Has a tendency to bind, then the knob just spins off and you have to get some tools after it to get it back open. Minimal surface area to clamp this to a drill press table without clamps getting in the way of the jaws.

    14. 3.0 out of 5 stars
      by on

      a little to flexable

      i use this to center drill pen blanks, how ever it has a lot of flexability in it when using the drill press, some times drilling off center

    15. 2.0 out of 5 stars
      by on

      I wouldn't buy it again

      The problem with this one is that the handle is threaded onto the shaft. So, once you have tightened it down quite a bit, you can actually loosen the handle right off trying to loosen the shaft. There are several others available that have the handle fixed to the shaft. These would be better and I am going to have to buy one of those now.

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