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randyc
11-27-2010, 05:24 PM
A recent post reminded me that toolmakers vises are useful for holding small parts. The following post might be cryptic if one isn't familiar with this type of workholder so please bear with me. I hope to convey a simple improvement that might make this device more useful.

http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l219/randy9944/P1010227.jpg

Small parts don't clamp well in a large milling machine vise, sometimes they are of an inconvenient dimension (e.g. for parallels) and frequently it is awkward to manipulate a small part in a mill, under a sharp tool while attempting to align the part with precision. It may be convenient to set up a workpiece in a toolmaker's vise then transfer the toolmaker's vise to a larger workholder.

http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l219/randy9944/P1010230.jpg

I use toolmaker's vises for drill press applications more than I do in the milling machine ... especially in a drill press set up for tapping small holes. Locating a small part perpendicular (and repeatably) to a small diameter tap is critical to avoid tap breakage.

Imported toolmaker's vises are cost-effective (especially for surface-grinding which is probably the primary purpose) but have disadvantages. One disadvantage is the lack of clamping force under certain conditions, such as when the clamping screw is positioned at an angle past 45 degrees and the axis starts approaching a vertical orientation. The clamping screw force is exerted mostly downward instead of distributed (partly vertical but mostly in the horizontal clamping direction).

Imported vises are rarely heat-treated at the wear points, as in this example where the socket head cap screw has indented and worn the ball joint excessively.

http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l219/randy9944/P1010229.jpg

The use of a hex key to tighten the clamp screw is time consuming when using the vise in a drill press (and my hex key is usually misplaced). I replaced the socket head cap screw in one of my vises with a readily available tooling part (there must be at least 1-1/2 inches of available thread under the knob) - making a similar part is a routine task. It's wise to install a washer under the clamping knob to prevent further rotational wear on the ball joint.

http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l219/randy9944/P1010228.jpg

randyc
11-27-2010, 05:25 PM
The replacement knob is quickly rotated (compared to using a hex key to torque the original socket head cap screw) BUT the knob has very little mechanical advantage therefore clamping pressure is considerably less than the original arrangement. Recalling that some drill press vises use a cam to achieve clamping pressure, I made this crude part to replace the original pivot pin shipped with the vise.

http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l219/randy9944/P1010232.jpg

A steel rod was cut to length, heated and bent into an "L" shape. A slight bend was introduced at the center of the rod in the area around which the threaded link pivots. The intentional deformation was about .015 in this case (although the exact amount isn't critical). The slight bend is visible by looking carefully at the rod, placed beside a parallel; a slight gap is visible.

http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l219/randy9944/P1010224.jpg

Removing the original clamping screw, individual parts of the vise were cleaned and lubricatedd (high pressure grease is preferred but any lubricant is better than none).

http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l219/randy9944/P1010225.jpg

After re-assembling the vise, normal clamping procedure is to insert the pivot rod into the appropriate set of holes in the sides of the vise, through the threaded internal link so that the workpiece can be loosely inserted into the vise. The movable vise jaw is snugged to the workpiece by finger-rotating the new clamping knob with the pivot rod "lever" positioned toward the REAR of the vise:

http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l219/randy9944/P1010222.jpg

randyc
11-27-2010, 05:25 PM
The workpiece can then be fully clamped by rotating the pivot rod lever forward toward the FRONT of the vise as in the following photo:

http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l219/randy9944/P1010221.jpg

As the indicator shows, rotating the lever through a 180 degree arc closes the vise by about .030. Only modest finger pressure is required to rotate the lever and quite a bit of mechanical advantage is achieved by the movement. The result is a vise that achieves the same amount of clamping force while eliminating the use of the hex key and reducing the clamping time by about 90%.

Once the vise has been adjusted approximately with the threaded knob, workpieces can be loaded and unloaded quickly and clamped securely with a brief rotation of the "L" handle of the pivot pin. (Written descriptions aren't all that effective ... sorry.)

This mightn't be of major importance in milling operations but for drilling and tapping multiple small parts, the time saving is substantial. The time spent in modifying the toolmaker's vise was around 15 minutes. Obviously no modifications have been made to the vise and original configuration can be restored in a few seconds if desired. (An example might be if the toolmaker's vise is required to completely seat in a larger vise - rather than on parallels - and the "lever" cannot be accomodated.)

Cheers,
Randy C

Black_Moons
11-27-2010, 05:50 PM
Nice mod! with the thumbscrew + cam, You got your travel and get to eat it too. Err. I mean, Get to secure it too.

randyc
11-27-2010, 09:37 PM
Thanks ! I'm surprised that others don't use these excellent little workholders more often.

They are inexpensive and well-made, the two in the OP are flat and parallel WAY beyond what I had a right to expect for the cost, LOL. I find lots of uses for the three inch vise and here's one that a toolmaker on another forum passed along:

http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l219/randy9944/P1010966.jpg

This is a "so what ?" sort of photo and the concept is simple but pretty clever. Suppose you have a saw-cut workpiece (neither end is perpendicular to the sides) and want to face it true - gripping the work in the toolmakers vise and then inserting the combination in the mill vise will align the sides of the work perpendicular to the table travel. (The toolmakers vise is resting on the bottom of the mill vise, of course, not the saw-cut work face.)

Cheers,
Randy C

PixMan
11-27-2010, 09:57 PM
The way you've used the toolmaker's vise in that last one is what I use V-blocks for.

I recently snagged a matched pair of Starrett No.568's from a seller on the PM site for a "crime of a price". They're perfect for that kind of application.

In the lower left corner of this drawer in my top box:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v466/kenm10759/Dads%20shop/IMG_0728-r.jpg

You can almost see the sine bar vise I had made as my "senior project" in trade school (1977), just to the left of the V-blocks.

randyc
11-27-2010, 10:18 PM
Hi PixMan,

Yes, ideal for vee blocks as you say. That photo was "posed" and I stuck the first piece of sawed stock that I found under the cutoff saw. The toolmaker on the other forum (you know him) showed a better example in his photo - a rectangular piece of stock that was REAL rough on the ends and perfect for the toolmakers vise !

Thanks for the comment and the photo !
Randy

PS: your picture reminds me that I STILL have to make clamps for the vee blocks that I also obtained for a good price. But the good price was because they lacked CLAMPS, ha-ha, maybe not such a bargain !

PixMan
11-27-2010, 10:26 PM
How 'bout I show you what's in the wooden boxes too? (I got to taking a lot of pix over @ dad's shop this morning.)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v466/kenm10759/Dads%20shop/IMG_0729-r.jpg

Then, what's in the red cases under the wooden boxes?

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v466/kenm10759/Dads%20shop/IMG_0730-r.jpg

:D

The No.568 V-blocks had never been used when I got them. They were in the original box and still had the rust-preventative wrap on them. $50. The No.364 bevel protractor was $25, but it didn't have the acute angle attachment with it. Three years later I got it thrown in with a pile of other bits I was buying, and I didn't even know what it was. I was ecstatic when I figured out just what that little thing was.

randyc
11-27-2010, 10:42 PM
Very cool, the depth mike sets, especially. All measuring tools are irresistible and the BEST thing that ever happened to machinist forums was the inexpensive digital camera :)

Many thanks for sharing,
Randy

edited to add this PS: How about a photo of "Dad" at the machines ?

PixMan
11-27-2010, 11:30 PM
Very cool, the depth mike sets, especially. All measuring tools are irresistible and the BEST thing that ever happened to machinist forums was the inexpensive digital camera :)

Many thanks for sharing,
Randy

edited to add this PS: How about a photo of "Dad" at the machines ?

Actually, that's a GREAT idea. If I can talk him into it, I'll stand next to him and you'll see twins! It's just that one is 78, a little shorter and has a little less hair than the 51 year-old.

BTW, the 2-1/2" No.449 (0-3") was a CL find from a retired Starrett guy, $30. The 4" base version of the No.449 (0-6") was one tool I bought new, in about 1982. It cost me about $200 then. Both are the non-rotating blade type.

randyc
11-27-2010, 11:37 PM
Great - been wanting to meet "Dad" for a long time ! These days sons don't seem to follow in their fathers' footsteps often - I've always enjoyed your posts that include your father and the common interests that you share.

Cheers,
Randy C