Irwin Taps & Dies
A box of cheap spool clamps unearthed at the closing violin shop seemed a deal. Spring clamps and forty pounds of lead bar were getting me only so far. Centenarian violins streaming to my luthier table deserve better. Proper violin spool clamps it would be!
After every full face lift, a violin top is reunited with its body with 33 spool clamps about the perimeter. Quickly installed, as hot hide glue cools quickly. Adjusted, glue cleaned from seams, ribs, and behind clamps, but in general, they stay tight on the violin for a good hour or so.
My clamps were arthritic. Or constipated? Binding issues prevented spools from moving freely upon their shafts. I’d wrestle with one, make it work, maybe have better luck with the next. Eventually I was back to vintage Pony spring clamps and lead bars.
Winter brings time for the fisherman to repair nets. Likewise, the luthier may catch a break to refurbish tools. After the triplets were off my table, I closely examined the clamps. Some shafts were threaded a bit haphazardly. There was glue in the threads. Spools were mis-drilled. Hmmmm . . . one man’s trash is another mans . . .
Clyde’s Hardware Store had a complete display of tapping tools in neat order, being overlooked by the casual weekend tinkerer. I found the correct die head, ¼” x 20 (threads per inch), and with a wire brush and Liquid Wrench Silicone Spray, went to work. Disassembling each spool clamp, wire-brushing its threads clean, sometimes running the die head all the way down the shaft, tidying up the threads. Occasionally drilling the spool’s hole a tad wider. Thirsty work, indeed!
Fifty clamps refurbished, enough for several ongoing projects. With the right tools, restoration work made easy.
Editor’s note: Irwin Industrial Tools makes their products all over the world and are currently owned by Stanley Black & Decker. Irwin’s most identifiable product are Vise-Grips. In 2008, Irwin announced the closing of its DeWitt, Nebraska plant, ending 80 years of American production for Vise-Grips, citing a necessity to move production to China “to keep the Vise-Grip name competitive.”
Today, this Easter Sunday morning, I visited a Lowe’s Home Improvement store. Within the tool aisles, examining Irwin products, most were made in Asia, China primarily. Most, but not all. The taps and dies are still USA production.
The USA-made Radiator Specialty’s Liquid Wrench, used on the threads? Since 1941 Liquid Wrench® has been making premium lubricating, penetrating and protecting products for people who know that their choice of tools can make all the difference. rscbrands