Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How2~ Add a Spring to Hand Tools

Back in February, I entered a pendant in the
Artisan Whimsy Valentines Challenge and was lucky enough to win
a $20 gift certificate to Melinda Orr's supply shop. Psych!

I love tools, so chose this nifty pair of multi loop pliers.
These pliers are really well made, but they have no opening mechanism. Since I spend all day at the bench I like to have tools that will do some of the work. This means pliers have to open. I'm pretty old school and prefer a spring. Not a box joint or a spring leaf, but a regular ol' spring. So, I decided to add my own.

If you'd like to give it a try
 you'll need to gather a few tools & supplies...

~ fine line sharpie
~ center punch
~ titanium drill bit
~ drill press
~ wood supports
~ hardware store wire cutters
~ chain nose pliers
~ drill bit template
~  rubber band
~ safety glasses
~ bur life or wax
~ locitite super glue gel
~ rubbing alcohol
~ q-tips
~ spring from a broken pen
~ hand tool to modify
~ patience
Hand tool, sharpie, center punch, drill bit, spring

The first step is to draw a line across the point in the pliers you'd like to locate the spring. Mine is drawn approximately
1/4" from the joint of the pliers.

Once you draw this line, open the pliers up and continue the line on the inside as shown below.

After you have the line drawn, use the center punch to make an indendation at the center of each line. This indentaion allows the drill bit to catch in the spot that you want to drill and not skitter about the metal aimlessly.
To figure out what size drill bit you'll need you will first have to measure the diameter of the spring. The easiest way to do this is to use a drill bit template. Simply try fitting your old pen spring in the openings until you find one that's a perfect fit. A little bigger is better than a little smaller.

Once you know the diameter of your spring you can cut it down to size with a pair of hardware store wire cutters. Start by cutting it to 3/4". Please don't use your good cutters because the spring is hardened so it'll retain its' shape. It will damage your good cutters. Trust me!

Hardware store wire cutters, chain nose pliers, full spring, cut spring

As you can see from the photo below, I've tapered down the first two twists on each end of the spring with my chain nose pliers. The tapered ends will push inside of the spring allowing more surface contact when you set the spring into the drilled holes with the glue.

Note: I used a pair of jewelers pliers, but it would have made for an easier job if I had used pliers with a serrated grip.

3/4" spring with tapered ends

Now, you want to don your safety glasses.

As you can see in the photo below, I've opened the pliers to beyond 90° and supported them with a series of wooden blocks and a pencil. It is very important to have the tool supported so that when you start to drill it isn't wiggling all over the place!

Support the tools with blocks

You should take great care when using any power tool.
If your work isn't secure, the speed of the spinning drill bit will catch and propel whatever you're trying to drill. It can be very dangerous.

As you can see, the tool is supported by blocks. What you can't see is that the blocks are clamped to the drill press plate and I am holding the handle of the pliers.

Be sure the bit lines up correctly

Once your tool is secure you should apply bur life to the bit. The bur life will lubricate the bit once it starts to heat up from the friction caused by drilling. You should then line the bit up over the indentation you made with your center punch. Lower the drill bit down to make sure it lines up before you turn on the drill press.

Now, this is where the patience comes in...

Although you do have to apply a little pressure to the drill bit you do not want to apply too much! Let the bit do its' job. Applying too much pressure won't make the job go any faster. It will, however, create more friction which will cause the bit to get hotter than it should. Once this happens the cutting edge of your bit will begin to loose its' temper and begin to dull.

Continue to drill into the tool, lift the bit to apply more bur life, and drill a little more. Repeat these steps until you achieve the desired depth. How deep does the hole need to be? Deep enough to hold the ends of the spring securely. So, you may have to try fitting the spring into the holes until you hit the right depth.
Keep checking the fit of the spring against the depth of the holes you're drilling.

Clean-up with alcohol
Once you have a good fit you'll want to wipe the metal and wax debris from the pliers. Be sure to do a final clean-up with rubbing alcohol to make sure all of the wax is cleaned away. If it isn't the glue won't be able to create a strong bond with the metal.

Pliers, spring and Loctite Super Glue Gel

I really like this Loctite Super Glue Gel, but you can certainly use whatever brand of adhesive that you like to bond metal.

Apply enough adhesive to fill each hole. Once the glue is applied you can set the spring in place and then close the pliers to apply pressure. Be sure not to close them too tightly or you may glue more of the spring than you had intended.

Loosly wrap a rubber band around the tips of your pliers to hold them closed while the glue dries. Then, walk away.
This is actually the hardest part, the waiting!

And Voila, you are done!

Images & Text © Pam Farren
All rights reserved.

Every effort has been made to ensure that all of the information in this tutorial is correct. However, due to differing conditions, tools and an individuals skills, the author of this tutorial cannot be responsible for any injuries, losses or other damages that may result from the information presented.  

1 comment:

Diane (Dewdrop Designs) said...

Thank you SO much for this information. My favorite pair of chain nosed pliers did not come with a spring. As I have a disability that effects my hands, I end up in pain way too quickly when using these pliers. I often have to use my other pair that tends to leave more tool marks than I like, just so that I can keep working. When my dad gets back from his trip, I am going to have him help me do this with his drill press. Again, thank you so much! Also wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog.