Product Reviews

Jerry-Rig Work Positioner (B-4)

Any carver working three dimensionally should have a work positioner, and this one is as good as they get.

This is a substantial piece of equipment: thick metal—cast iron or chrome plated steel—precisely engineered and well finished.

It can be fixed in one of three ways to your bench: by clamping the cast iron “foot,” bolting the foot directly to the bench, or using a central bolt through the bench top to a handle beneath. The swivel ball unit can be reversed onto the foot, which increases the mounting possibilities.

The cranked ball fixing plate seems to be modeled on Kurt Koch’s Universal Positioner that has been my favorite for 20 years, but is very expensive and difficult to obtain. One of my complaints about the Koch positioner is the uncomfortable springy bounce in the angle of the plate. The thick metal gusset on the Jerry-Rig eliminates that bounce.

The 2½ ” diameter ball is probably the biggest on the market and rotates very smoothly a full 360°, and around at an angle. The circular clamping rings take a massive bite on the ball—I couldn’t budge it! This coupled with the variable bench means you can place your carving exactly where you want it and have it stay there.

You attach your carving to one of three steel work plates that fit a spigot that passes through the ball. This is an innovative and well-thought out solution to the problems some positioners have when it comes to changing plates or tightening work. Rather than the standard circular option, these work plates are rectangular, with the largest one slotted. Besides working directly off them, you can bolt or screw holding boards, vises, and jigs to these plates first, increasing the versatility of the device.

With all its fine qualities, there is one design flaw to note. The toggle bar for clamping the cast iron foot to the bench “worked,” but is thin and therefore tends to dig into the user’s hand. To counteract this, they covered it with a protective foam sleeve—which means it can’t be used as a toggle and gets in the way of the bench leg or apron. Take the sleeve off and the bar is uncomfortable to use. I would prefer if they fit one of the internal ratchet locking handles that look and work so well on the locking rings above.

This is a beautiful piece of equipment, made with a lot of care and attention. It is hefty, versatile and will serve well for a lifetime of hard use. For a list of Jerry-Rig distributors, call 973-895-2818, or visit Prices for the ball positioner start around $174.

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