Cheap & Nasty Vice Made Good

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Ken I

Project of the Month Winner!!!
Project of the Month Winner
Oct 31, 2010
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Cape Town, South Africa
I have never found a suitable vice for my mini-mill - either too small or too big - particularly too high.

So I have for some years been using a pair of those cheap 4 inch "drill press" vices which as supplied are near useless for accurate work but with a bit of work can be remarkably useful and accurate.

The above two vices...
The one on the left is pretty much as it comes other than the home made soft jaws, the hold down bolt on the mobile jaw and the underside tenons for quick alignment.
The one on the right has a much more accurately fitted mobile jaw but it reduces the width of part it can hold.
As you clamp the part you tighten the hold down bolt as well to prevent the mobile jaw from lifting - less of a problem with the more finessed vice but I still have a hold down bolt on that as well.

Shown with spare soft jaws - the 90° "V" for round stock and the 120° "V" holds my hexagonal shank ER42 collet which is very convenient for milling hexagons.
The jaws on the left have seen years of abuse on the RH vice now pensioned off from my better vice which I have treated to a new set of soft jaws.

On the underside you can see the added tenons.
The mobile jaw on the LH vice is a loose fitting affair and the clamping plate is much thicker (10mm) than the original rubbish 4mm thin plate - mostly so the hold down bolt can clamp it down.

The RH vice has 4 x M6 caps holding against 4 x M5 grub screws for setting minimum sliding clearance - the hold down bolt (counterbored on the reverse side) is sufficient to pull it just a few microns further to clamped - stopping the jaw from lifting during tightening.

The underside was skimmed by mounting it upside down with the fixed jaw (without soft jaws or the original crappy facings) against the back of the table (done on my Bridgeport) and the tennon groove and tennons fitted at the same time.

So everything is true when mounted the right way around - further I gave the soft jaws a "lick" to clean up dead true - or every now an then when doing really precise work and the jaws are looking a little the worse for wear. As you can see the well worn short jaws in the LH vice have been considerably whittled away over the years by this process.

Pretty much all my model engineering is done in these vices and they have served me well.

My Bridgeport at my factory has a 6" precision hydraulic vice - no comparison - I also wouldn't consider using the above vices on a more powerful machine - but on my mini-mill they are great.

Regards, Ken
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I enjoyed this post. I find projects like this are fun to take on to get something useful from something a lot of folks would throw away.

I took a 6-inch HF vise like your two that had a badly warped casting and was almost free and made it into my favorite vices for bench work. It took less than a day to do and was a satisfying project.

Thank You for posting.

Hi Ken !
Thanks for sharing !
Very cool way and I will do it with my vice .

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