Steve J. Lindsay, the artist whose work we looked at here, has over 50 years of engraving experience and knows a thing or two about workholding. Lindsay looked at the design of an antique fractal vise, which consists of a series of pivoting "teeth" in the jaws that allow it to hold irregular shapes, and created his own modern update:
Check out how it works:
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"I have been on and off these Morphing Fractal jaws now for six years," Lindsay writes. "There have been various versions. These photos are the most current. There was an old (early 1900s) milling machine vise with similar jaws. The patent pending improvements with the new design will provide help for use of it with engraving vises and other vises."
The older design Lindsay is referring to appears to be the one discovered by Hand Tool Rescue, who recently found and restored one. They've got a 36-minute video on that process below:
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As for Lindsay's design, he's actually come up with two variants: A 16-finger version and an 8-finger version. While he is planning on making and selling them, "it will be a while yet," he writes, "before I have time to start production in quantities." The final sale prices are TBD, but you can pre-order one with a down payment here.
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You have just given me GAS - Gear Acquisition Syndrome. Like my work shop was'nt overstuffed already, but this is the most awesome vise I have ever seen.
Seriously cool, and stunningly well made.
This can be described as a whippletree-style set of jaws. It's not hard to make a much simpler, less gorgeous version as soft-jaws to drop into a vise. Suitable for the milling vise on the Bridgeport you have in your breakfast nook, or for woodworking. Equally good at automatically applying equal pressure across irregularly shaped items, as well as for clamping several different sized items at the same time with equal pressure.
Here's a nice demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JcBphFxEe4
And for the curious: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whippletree_(mechanism)