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View Full Version : H/F 4" Cross-slide vise, worth $29.99?



DICKEYBIRD
02-02-2008, 12:54 PM
I had a little time to kill this morning in town and ended up in H/F. They had this http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=538 on sale from $39.99 down to $29.99.

I looked at the display unit and yes it has problems but appears to be a decent start for adding a somewhat precise method of offering tooling up to my newly acquired H/F carbide grinder for sharpening. The dovetails look OK and both axes (axis's?) have adjustable gibs. The gib hardware is cheesy, the leadscrews are those crappy chromed things and there are no thrust bearings or bushings anywhere but that could be corrected pretty cheaply if the concept works OK. Seems like the pair of dovetail castings and gibs are worth $29.99.

I figured I could add a couple cheapo D.I.'s to measure the travels and start by clamping a 4-sided 5C collet block or mount a 5C spindexer in the included vise at the appropriate angles, tweak the mounting for the appropriate fishtailing and see what happens.

Anybody else ever tried this? Should I mark this down as a lapse in common sense and take the thing back while I can?:)

fishfrnzy
02-02-2008, 01:13 PM
FWIW It might work, but may be a lot of effort to get tight. i bought years ago one of the phase II slammet mill / drill tables. It felt relatively tight for a short time but the developed .030-.060 slop. Finally bought some acme allthread form enco and made new screws and made some bronze thrust washers and got everything tight again. After what seemed like not very long it is about 1/2 as bad as it was. I should have made new bronze nuts as that probaly would help a lot, but didn't have mill at the time. May get back to it some day. Summary, was a lot of effort for marginal results, but if you are willing to machine castings, true the gibs, make new screws,nuts etc and build everything would probably work.

jacampb2
02-02-2008, 01:38 PM
I have one, and have to say that it is well worth the money for a drill press vise. I never really looked at it very hard, but my guess is to turn it into an accurate work holding device will take a lot of time. I am sure it can be done, but if it is cast from the same crappy metal that most of their vises are cast from, how long will the dovetails hold up even after all your effort to true it up? The one I have is about two years old and is extremely sloppy. I just use it for setting up and drilling quick holes. I never try to use it for any precise positioning.

Bill Pace
02-02-2008, 02:36 PM
I keep a 5''er on the DP ... dont know how would do without it there, but--- it IS sloppy.

However, for what youre talking about it just might have possibilities...and for that little money involved--- Give it a whirl and let us see what you come up with.

Frank Ford
02-02-2008, 04:11 PM
Had one, hated it because it was so loose, gave it away.

Now I have an import $100 X-Y table with a good deal more travel and a quick acting Palmgren vise on top of my drill press table. Haven't take it of in about two years. It's a big Rong Fu drill press, but I don't do much big work, so the vise setup is just about perfect for me.

CCWKen
02-02-2008, 04:16 PM
I've had one on the drill press for several years. It works pretty good when you lock it down after setting. You're right about the grade-school hardware too. If you plan on grinding with it, I'd skim cut or hone the dovetails for a smoother movement. On the one (second) I have, the dovetails aren't cut square to each other. They're off a couple of degrees but it works on the drill press. I mention it's the "second" because the first broke at the base of the fixed jaw. I had just bought it so HF gave me a new one. Just watch your clamping force. I kept the V-block out of the first for my trouble so now I have two. They come in pretty handy. Certainly worth the $30 but don't expect a lot of precision. And as usual, you have to look at it as a "kit" that needs refining.

BadDog
02-02-2008, 04:55 PM
I've had one for years that I used on my import drill press. Perfectly adequate for most any use on a drill press. Aligning to layouts and punches is fine. But don't expect to do any accurate coordinate locating...

Now that I have the big 20" Wilton VSG, that was no longer adequate by a long shot, though I still use it for small stuff. So I got one of these (http://www.use-enco.com/CGI/INSRIT?PMAKA=201-2536&PMPXNO=953096&PARTPG=INLMK3). This one is VERY nice (for the price) and will actually allow you to do trigged out bolt circles, plus I have a variety of vises (3 axis 4" Wilton, various "screwless grinder", a sine-plate vise, etc.) to use on it. I'm looking for one of those lever "quick vises" for general use. Anyway, this is a bit big I think for a grinder table, but with some skirting to keep the grit out of the ways, it would work I think...

Then there is this (http://www.use-enco.com/CGI/INSRIT?PMAKA=201-2826&PMPXNO=951820&PARTPG=INLMK3) one. Not as nice, but smaller and MUCH better than the HF vise. Coordinate travel dials are small and fit/finish is not as good as the previous, but much cheaper (in sale catalog now?).

For a grinder, I think this (http://www.use-enco.com/CGI/INSRIT?PMAKA=201-2524&PMPXNO=1631723&PARTPG=INLMK3) might make a good one, but the most pricey of this lot.

I've got a recently acquired 10" Pamgren Rotary Cross Feed that would also work rather well, but they are VERY pricey (several hundred used) unless you get lucky (I did).

matador
02-02-2008, 06:14 PM
I bought a similar vise several years ago,and only use it on the drill press.The only thing that really annoys me is that the main screw is a reversed thread,e.g.turn left for forward.Agreed it is a sloppy fit,there was an article in an english magazine about improving it.But i totted up the cost,and it just didn't seem worthwhile.One day I'll probably make new gib strips for it,but it works,so there's no rush.

kendall
02-02-2008, 06:18 PM
I have a yuasa table similar to that last one, pretty sturdy and smooth acting table, only issue is that the screws are backwards, so switching from mill or lathe I have to remind myself which way to turn the thing. Other thing that may or may not cause issues is that it uses a single stud for the mount.


Ken.

DICKEYBIRD
02-02-2008, 06:27 PM
Thanks all,

Hmmm, sounds pretty depressing. I haven't had a chance to even take it out of the box yet.

I use my X-3 for drilling when I need accuracy and don't plan to use the little thing very often. I'll give it a closer look tomorrow when I have some more time and decide whether to take it back or give it a try.

andy_b
02-03-2008, 12:33 AM
I had a little time to kill this morning in town and ended up in H/F. They had this http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=538 on sale from $39.99 down to $29.99.


i have that one on my drill press. i've probably had it for at least two years. if you keep the gibs tight, it seems okay. i figure if i wear the gibs/dovetails out sooner because i keep them too tight, so what. it only cost $30. sometimes i miscalculate where i'm drilling, and put some holes in the vise. again, so what, it was cheap. i also find that if i have some odd-shaped thing to drill, i don't feel the least bit bad clamping something on to the vise. again, if i break it, it was only $30. the key with it is to keep the gibs tight, and if you're not using one of the axis, then lock the gib on that axis.

andy b.

DICKEYBIRD
02-03-2008, 12:53 AM
Thanks Andy,

I looked closer at it tonight and it is pretty cheaply made but like you said, what the hay...it's 30 bucks!

The 2 biggest problems I saw are the lack of leadscrew thrust bearings and the gibs look like they were beat flat on a tired old anvil. I filed and sanded them flat, filed the burrs & boogers off the dovetails and lubed everything with some fresh moly grease. I adjusted the gibs using new hardware and it worked much more smoothly.

It'll be much better after I cobble up some bearings for the handle end of the leadscrews. Looks like a simple job. I have a box of old roller-blade bearings...I may try a couple.

I think it'll work OK for what I'm wanting to do. It'll only be positioning a toolholder once in a while. No heavy back & forth use at all. I'm going to give it a try & see what happens.

BadDog
02-03-2008, 02:27 AM
The 2 biggest problems I saw are the lack of leadscrew thrust bearings and the gibs look like they were beat flat on a tired old anvil. I filed and sanded them flat, filed the burrs & boogers off the dovetails and lubed everything with some fresh moly grease. I adjusted the gibs using new hardware and it worked much more smoothly.

That's pretty much exactly what I did to mine. About an hour or so with emery and file makes a BIG difference.



It'll be much better after I cobble up some bearings for the handle end of the leadscrews. Looks like a simple job. I have a box of old roller-blade bearings...I may try a couple.

I wouldn't bother with the skate bearings. Machine the surfaces true and add a roller thrust bearing with some way to eliminate the float would probably be much more useful.

Your Old Dog
02-03-2008, 10:25 AM
Thanks all,

Hmmm, sounds pretty depressing. I haven't had a chance to even take it out of the box yet.

Take it back if you haven't really used it and tell'em it sucks.

DICKEYBIRD
02-03-2008, 12:00 PM
Take it back if you haven't really used it and tell'em it sucks.Naah, I just turned the leadscrews down to .375" on the end so I'm now past the point of no return. .375" is the ID of a pair of model airplane crankshaft bearings I had on hand. They're from the front (thrust) end of a middle 80's .40 cu. in. 17,000 rpm high quality Japanese engine so they should hold up OK.

As long as I'm using stuff I have in stock and don't spend any cash, I'm happy. Besides, *EVERY* thing I do is a learning experience....this might be a valuable lesson.;)

ps: When I chucked up the 1st leadscrew, the handle end ran out .060"! Turns out it was bent on the end and the threaded portion is reasonably straight. A little D.I. and pry bar work had it down to .001" before I turned it down to fit the bearing.

kendall
02-03-2008, 01:35 PM
Learning experience is the best way to look at it.

I buy a LOT of HF stuff for project parts, or for the express purpose of modifying for another use. And, some things are ready to use as-is.

I've looked at them in the store, and the only real drawback I've seen in that vise is that it needs more gib screws, and a tighter slide fit for the moveable jaw

People will happily pay twice that, or more, for casting kits for milling vises, and still need to come up with the rest of the parts, this is a complete kit that's ready for final fitting.

Ken.

andy_b
02-04-2008, 08:53 PM
Learning experience is the best way to look at it.

I buy a LOT of HF stuff for project parts, or for the express purpose of modifying for another use. And, some things are ready to use as-is.


i love when i buy stuff there and they ask me if i want the extended warranty. i tell them that what i'm going to do with it as soon as i get it home will void the warranty anyway. :)

andy b.

franco
02-04-2008, 09:59 PM
I've had a 5" one on the drill press for years. It is fine for this purpose provided you remember to lock the slides before starting to drill. HOWEVER, on mine the two slides are not exactly at right angles to each other, which might cause difficulties with precision work, so it might be worth checking this.

franco

dp
02-04-2008, 10:12 PM
We have a new HF here in Bellevue, WA where I live so I dropped in Saturday to see what a new store looked like. The look like all the rest as it turns out :)

Anyway I looked at the vise and see that it is the same model I bought at Sears many years ago - or so close I cannot tell the difference. It has worked for me as a welding alignment tool, drill press vise, glue down weight, and sometimes it's put on my power hacksaw. It's an ok old clunker that is not useful for precision work but it sure takes abuse well.

DICKEYBIRD
02-06-2008, 11:18 PM
Nothing better to do so I'll throw in a couple pics of where I'm at on the cross-slide re-do.

I made a bearing mount bracket from some scrap 1/2" alum. plate and bored it to fit the .375" x .875" bearing with a freshly sharpened brazed carbide b/bar. The finish is slick as button so fitting the CDCO diamond wheel on a H/F grinder works great!

I'm finally learning to measure twice, double check the math and go real slow using the boring bar. The bearing pressed in really nice, no Loctite needed for a change.

I used the original steel plate to retain the bearing but it was cupped .025". so had to surface it flat on the disc sander and a sheet of wet/dry paper on a glass plate.

http://i57.photobucket.com/albums/g227/DBAviation/XYBrgParts.jpg

After milling the bearing mount end of the casting square to the top surface, it fit together well and spins very smoothly now. With the leadscrew friction dramatically reduced, the gib adjustments could then be snugged down and it operates with no binding at all. One axis down, one to go.

http://i57.photobucket.com/albums/g227/DBAviation/XYBrg.jpg

It ain't fully polished yet, but the t*rd is at least semi-glossy now.;)

kendall
02-06-2008, 11:47 PM
Looks good!
Should have it shining soon!

Ken.