Fractal vise
July 23, 2021 4:44 PM   Subscribe

After Hand Tool Rescue restored a "grip anything" fractal vise, everybody got into it. Nebraska-based artist Steve Lindsay has been working on a modern metal one for six years. You can put a downpayment on one for yourself, but he doesn't know how much it'll cost when it's done.
posted by clawsoon (27 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is a really interesting take on the concept. I've seen it come up in the machining world, where it is sort of a perfect tool in the sense that it's very clever but doesn't quite work in the end, because in that context you care about spatial repeatability and you'd basically need a second vise to hold your workpiece in place to ensure it's clamped in the same location with this system. For engraving work, that doesn't matter.
posted by feloniousmonk at 5:05 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Extraordinary restoration video. So many skills on display!
posted by darkstar at 5:53 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Yeah it's terrible if you need something to be clamped the exact same way time and time again, but for clamping an awkward shape once it's fantastic.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:56 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]


I'm just here for a bizarrely satisfying watch - something about the fractal nature magnifies the impact.
posted by abulafa at 7:01 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Here's the original patent with some beautiful diagrams. OCR renders it as a "DEVICE FOR OBTAINING INTIMATB CONTACT WlTH, ENGAGING, 0R GLAMPING BODIES 0F ANY SHAPE", which is appropriate, since that is some glamorous clamping. (Bonus sauciness: the inventor calls the moving parts "cheeks".)
posted by trig at 7:38 PM on July 23 [10 favorites]


Yeah it's terrible if you need something to be clamped the exact same way time and time again,...

Not necessarily.
posted by Pouteria at 8:35 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


(Bonus sauciness: the inventor calls the moving parts "cheeks".)

So I'd be... clamping them cheeks?
posted by ZaphodB at 11:37 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Six years?

That's how you make certain that there'll be a version on Aliexpress with half the quality at a tenth the price before your seventh year is up.
posted by happyinmotion at 12:19 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Pouteria, it's not clear to me that the vice in the video has a memory, but it looks like it could have a memory.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 12:22 AM on July 24


Nancy Lebovitz

The pins can be locked into place once the shape is formed. See 1:40-2:00.
posted by Pouteria at 5:59 AM on July 24


In fact they must be locked into place in order for the jaws to deliver any clamping force.

One of the tidiest things about the fractal vise design is that you don't need separate moulding and locking steps like this multi-pin vise does.
posted by flabdablet at 7:05 AM on July 24


speaking of fractals, I've just finished this book:

The Fractalist: The Memoir of Benoit Mandelbrot

a surprisingly easy to grasp and an ultimately inspiring read. Long story short: it takes a Jewish kid from Poland who gets separated from his parents during WW2 and ultimately ends up at IBM in the early 1960s to finally "capture the thumbprint of God".
posted by philip-random at 7:15 AM on July 24 [4 favorites]


> but he doesn't know how much it'll cost when it's done.

I imagine the final price will scale with the perimeter of the limit shape
posted by kleinsteradikaleminderheit at 7:48 AM on July 24 [12 favorites]


MetaFilter: For clamping an awkward shape once it's fantastic
posted by schmod at 8:10 AM on July 24 [3 favorites]


I would have called it a wiffletree vise ‘cause it’s more fun to say
posted by tinker at 8:31 AM on July 24 [3 favorites]


One of the tidiest things about the fractal vise design is that you don't need separate moulding and locking steps like this multi-pin vise does.

True, and the fractal vise is certainly a very pleasing and practical design, not to mention ingenious.

But not the right tool if you want it to hold its shape after the object has been released.

It also only varies along two axes, not three, so it can't mould in 3D. The pin version can, and in practice could also do a higher res shape, both features resulting in a more even and secure distribution of force across the object being held.
posted by Pouteria at 8:54 AM on July 24


It should be possible to build a monster 3D version based on part-spheres rather than part-cylinders and three-way branching rather than two-way. Not sure it would end up very practical but it would look hella cool.
posted by flabdablet at 9:14 AM on July 24 [5 favorites]


Someone has already put a 3D printable version up on Thingiverse.
posted by indexy at 12:30 PM on July 24


HYPNOTIZING
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 5:28 PM on July 24


Fractal vise

I imagine if I had a better grasp of machine shop work or The Sound of Music, I’d have put together a clever rewrite of “Edelweiss” here, so please leave favourites as if I did.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:30 AM on July 25 [5 favorites]


Oh my god. I have no use for one of these and I WANTS IT.
posted by ZakDaddy at 8:00 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


I imagine if I had a better grasp of machine shop work or The Sound of Music, I’d have put together a clever rewrite of “Edelweiss” here

I am, however, a big fan of Jesus Christ Superstar, so:

Fractal vise,
Fractal vise,
Down payment now -- we don't know the price.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:19 AM on July 25 [2 favorites]


You could also sing that to the Spider-Man theme…
posted by darkstar at 7:59 PM on July 25 [3 favorites]


Fractal vise, fractal vise, grips whatever and looks so nice
posted by flabdablet at 12:14 AM on July 26


Fractal vise,
Fractal vise,
Down payment now -- we don't know the price.


I don't know Jesus Christ Superstar (at least not by name), so I read it to the tune of Particle Man.
posted by aniola at 10:17 AM on July 27


aniola: I don't know Jesus Christ Superstar (at least not by name)

I'll take you right to the climax.
posted by clawsoon at 2:18 PM on July 27


You could also sing that to the Spider-Man theme…

The stresses fall slightly differently.

Fractal vise, fractal vise,
On sale now, we don’t know the price.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:10 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


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