Winter Projects – Vice Action.

Well that was a quick season.

No sooner than it was over I was thinking about next year and planning some winter projects. I am not a big fan of freezing my balls off hunting for Grayling and anyway looking at the photos on facebook it appears now to just be an excuse to torment out of season trout. Folk holding up a trout in January proudly saying it would be 2lb in June appears to be the norm now.

Personally I need to get my vice out.

Note to new American readers – a Vice here in the UK is used for the tool and not a bad habit.

Although weirdly for the winter I need to sort out two of them and one not just the one for fly tying.

This all started when I was trying to replace my outside tap, it turned out that a bolt was stuck on to a piece of copper pipe on the old tap and I was flummexed how to get it off. I needed the bolt for the new tap.

I messed around with it for a while until I realised that the tap had been soldered on to the pipe which meant it was not coming off.

I wandered across to my elderly neighbour old Hugh for a spot of advice as he is a man of the world and knows a thing or two. He appears to spend his day sitting in a deckchair watching the world go by – I always go over for a chat.

“Its quite simple really Alistair, you get it off using your hacksaw” he said. I glumly told him that I did not in fact own a hack saw. “No hacksaw Alistair???” he said with a look of wonderous rage ” Every man needs a hacksaw at their garage workbench!” he looked at me again and offered his to me to use. He wandered into his garage and came out with a hacksaw.

I braced the pipe and started to saw. “No NO NO” said old Hugh “Not like that, you take it and put it in your vice”

I must have looked at him blankly.

“What do you mean Alistair? First you dont have a hacksaw and now you dont have a vice?”

“What exactly do you have at your garage workbench?” he said emphasising the “do”

I glumly thought about my garage stuffed with bikes, old paint pots, my roof box, a huge fridge freezer that is only turned on at Christmas to store left over food, an old bookcase which my wife wont have in the house and I am too stingy to give away and also a boxes of stuff that we need to keep “just in case”

Old Hugh shook his head at me and indicated for me to follow him to his garage. “Excuse the mess Alistair” he said as we walked into his immaculate garage with well tended tools stored againt the walls. A row of jam jars was attached to a shelf with the screws sorted in order of size.

And there was his vice.

I knew what to do – I walked over and put the old tap in the vice and tightened it. Hugh looked at me and gave it another quarter turn.

I started to saw….. a few minutes later I could sense Hughs obvious discomfort until “Put a bit of welly into it Alistair, you are not trying to tickle it off ” I pressed harder however he bareley gave me a bloody chance.

“Do you want me to get my Grandaughter Alistair, she knows how to use a hacksaw, she could get through that in no time at all”

She was about 12 years old.

Finally I had made it through the pipe.

I thanked Hugh and retreated to my less than adequate garage to refit the tap. I must say though, fitting my new outside tap was grand and it meant that I could now shout at the kids every time they turned the water on. I thought about the vice for a bit and decided that I needed to get one. I could count at least 3 times in the last 2 years I could have used it. There was the time I needed to cut through a screw as i couldnt be bothered walking down to the shop to buy a smaller screw, and the time that I wanted to see what would happen when I squashed an old phone.

I had to get one – turns out the good ones are bloody expensive.

it just so happens though that my dear old departed father had a vice in his garage – a quick phone call to his second wife to make sure nobody had knicked it and I had a photo of an old vice. Ta Da!

To be fair he passed away nearly 20 years ago and I remember all his stuff being in a pristine condition. Still, I wandered down a few days later and almost destroyed the heavy chest of drawers he had modified into a workbench. Note to self, I need an old heavy chest of drawers to keep the tools I have aquired over the years (and some bloody jams jars) and then one day i am going to show some young buck my workbench.

Anyway, turns out cleaning up these old vices can be a lot of fun – a bit of paint and they look great after a good scrub. I just need to clear a wee space and get started.

Of course the second vice I need to sort out is for fly tying and that my friends is for another post – nothing wrong with that mighty fine piece of South African engineering though.


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  1. Stephen Baines · November 15, 2019

    Vice for me when I retire, My kitchen taps are brazed to the pipe so I canr even change a washer..Plumber evey time.

  2. Ken Joslin · November 15, 2019

    Can’t have too many vices Alistair, I have two on benches, a fly tying one and several others that I’m not to proud of. Ahem.