No announcement yet.

Dowel Vice Onto Mill

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Dowel Vice Onto Mill

    Every time I set up the vice on the mill table I want to dowel it to the table so I don't have to go to all of the trouble next time. Seems like a Cardinal Sin to drill holes in the table but my machinest buddy uses a boring machine that had one of the tee slots ripped out about 10" long and repaired with screws. Couldn't look uglier but works fine, makes lots of money.

    Any thoughts?

  • #2
    If the side of the vise is flat you could set the vice up parallel then clamp a bar to the t-slots alongside the vise. Remove the vise when you need to and put it back on against your bar when you need it again. Of course this isn't perfect becasue the bar stays behind.

    The only way I can see to dowel it, is with tapered dowel pins with a threaded hole on the big end. This allows you to draw the dowel out, but maintains perfect alignment that doesn't require a slip fit on one side. We used these extensively for fixturing assemblies in production machines. They allow you to remove the assembly for maintainance and get it back in without needing to use the $20,000 worth of fixtures and gages the machine was built with.


    • #3
      Assuming it is not on a swivel base, keying the vise to one of the T slots in the table will assure it is in tram when being installed.

      If the vise does not already have a key slot in the base, install a tight fitting key in one of the table's T slots. Invert the vise and clamp it to this key. Mill a keyway in the base of the vise, usually through the slots for the hold down slots, that corresponds to the table slot. Install a key in this slot with socket head cap screws.

      You might have to shim the fixed jaw for the ultimate in tram, but the vise will always be reinstalled in the same position.

      If the vise is on a swivel base, the base can be keyed in the same manner and the vise to base can be taper pinned to assure tram.
      Jim H.


      • #4
        Yes, check the base of the vise for key slots. You should be able to make keys to fit (probably) the center T-slot of the mill table.
        Try to make a living, not a killing. -- Utah Phillips
        Don't believe everything you know. -- Bumper sticker
        Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
        There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
        Law of Logical Argument - Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
        Don't own anything you have to feed or paint. - Hood River Blackie


        • #5
          I've keyed two vises that way - both were Palmgrens that came with smooth bases.

          Clamp the vise down on a piece of ground steel stock that fits tightly in the t-slot (mine is 5/8") with part of the stock protruding above the vise jaws. Then stand the vise on its nose with the ground stock in the slot. Clamp down to the table and mill a corresponding slot in the base of the vise to fit the ground stock. Screw the stock in place in the milled slot. Presto - a vise that's aligned surprisingly well to the table.

          One vise is a swivel type, and I keyed the swivel with four small taper pins before milling the slot in the base. Got everything to fit nice and tight, and it repeats parallel to about half a thousandth over the four inch width of the back jaw.


          Frank Ford
          Gryphon Stringed Instruments
          My Home Shop Pages

          Frank Ford


          • #6
            Most mill vises have key slots. The only issue is filing them to fit precisely enough...which means flopping a big heavy vise a few times.

            Most tables have t-slots in some standard size, so having some ground dowel pins around for quickly squaring other things is not a bad idea....but make use of the t-slots rather than drilling additional holes in your table. They tend to fill with swarf when not in use and just look cheesy.

            One other thought that I have had was that most of the Kurt style vises have threaded holes on both sides of the fixed jaw mount. I figured that taking a piece of maybe 1.5-2" round stock (big enough to protrude behind the mounting flange on the vise base), turning it nice and round and then milling a flat on one side followed by a couple of holes to align with the vice jaw mounting holes gives you a nice bar parallel to the fixed jaw. On most Bridgeport (and other) style mills, the vice is big enough that it hangs over the back of the table a bit. Just run this bar up against the flat Z axis ways and you have it square to the world provided the rest of your axes are as square as they should be. You just set the vice back in place, push it back, and run the table in the y axis until the bolt-down holes in the vise base line up with the t-slot and tighten them. Of course, I haven't had a chance to actually test this

            P. S. this makes a nice handle for managing the vise, too.

            Paul Carpenter
            Mapleton, IL


            • #7
              Drilling a hole in the table is always a last resort, like Pcarpenter said, it fills up with fines. I do like the idea of adding handles - the bigger vises are a backbreaker after a while..

              I'm honestly surprised nobody suggested making a sub plate, this way you don't have to modifiy either the machine or the vise - just make a plate and use sinekeys for location. It's really a good idea for all workholding - vises, spin indexers, air collet chucks, super spacers, etc. It has the advantage of allowing you to place the vise relative to the table exactly where you want.

              Now, if you really wanna get fancy, why not make your own pallet system? It's relatively straight forward, using Bullet pins, a base plate that goes on your table that has bullet pins and Eyebolts on it(the former is for location, the latter for subplate retention). The subplate that has the vise/chuck/etc mounted on it has a liner mounted in it to recieve the pin, and a slot cut into it for the eyebolt(the eyebolt has a hand tightened "nut" on the end).

              The idea is, you can change setups in seconds. I've seen a coupla vartiations of this in a few shops, mainly due to the fact that most commercial pallet systems are a freaking fortune.

              EGO partum , proinde EGO sum


              • #8
                A friend of mine was a machinist. Tool & Die for several years, and then several more in a custom small run job shop. Anyway, he suggested taking a hand full of hardened pins that fit your t-slots tight. Then grind 2 smallish flats 180* apart. Now you can stick them anywhere in your t-slots with the flats against the table, and turn with a wrench to "lock" them in place. Close enough to trammed for most work and can be used for setting the vise, random work pieces having a flat side, whatever. And because they are easy to insert and remove by simply twisting, you can put them anywhere on the table to suit your needs...
                Master Floor Sweeper


                • #9
                  Practice, Practice, Practice......It's REALLY not that bad once you get the hang of it. Shouldn't take more than 5, -10 minutes tops to tram that baby in
                  to .0005" across it's jaw length.....
                  Even if you use loose keys in the slots, plop it up there and you are automatically within a couple thou, tap it in and snug er down.
                  The biggest complaint I have is the weight of those damn things,
                  Some of em will make your voice go up a few octaves.


                  • #10
                    Guy Lautard, in one of his MBRs, outlined a procedure to key your vise to the mill table; it's similar to what is described above, with an exception:

                    He says to make keys that are oversized, as compared to the table slots, and mill them to proper size with the vise upside-down, clamped to a pair of carefully-turned pins that index the vise jaws to the Tee slots.

                    If you machine slots in the vise as described above, that would work also, but DON'T depend on existing keyways in your vise to be parallel to the jaws. At least, my vise didn't have such a situation. Using Lautard's system works great and saves a bunch of time. I suppose if the vise has to be perfect, it might not be good enough, but it works for me.


                    • #11
                      My Method,for dead nuts accuray and repeatability, and no 'precise' machining to get it.
                      Make a Subplate. (I use 3/4 Aluminum )
                      Drill holes for hold down bolts through/into the keyways.
                      Set the vise on the plate roughly in the setting, without clamping. mark the locations of the vise keys...roughly.
                      remove the vise and mill 1/4" deep slots for keys, except make the slots long enough to be exposed outside the vise..maybe 3/8" /
                      now mount the vise and indicate Very close, then pour in some low melting alloy , like Cerrocast,Cerro Safe, Cerralloy. when the melt protrudes above the slot, slap a parrallel down on it, forcing the melt upinto the vise keyways, and chilling it. You now have a permanent set of keys, that accurately set the vise to plumb EVEN if the keyways do not match !. If you remove the vise, the keys can go with it for other tooling allignment like a rotary table. Just keep track of which key is which . The Cerro Alloy is hard and it really works guys.
                      If you remove a vise and the mounting hole is exposed during another operation, take an old Christmas candle ,and jam it down the opening and cut it off even with the subplate . this seals it from chips, but is easily dug out and it lubes the screw when you replace the vise.
                      Last edited by Rich Carlstedt; 02-13-2007, 09:38 PM.
                      Green Bay, WI


                      • #12
                        I key all my vise`s and other tooling . Just drop on tighten t bolts and go once indicated in never again unless keys get loose if do make some new ones . cuts bown on indicating each and every time.
                        Every Mans Work Is A Portrait of Him Self


                        • #13
                          I would not use pins for several reasons. First, the holes will fill with chips and be a PITA to keep clean. Second, the holes will eventually wear and the setup will loose any accuracy it initially had.

                          Many vises have a machinned flat on the right side. If they don't, it can be added on most of them. I have a shop made square that fits into the slots and against the machinned side of the vise. The square need not be all that accurate, in fact mine has an adjustable feature so it can be made to conform to my table and vise. Three pieces of stock that form a triangle with slightly large screw holes for adjustment. And don't worry about the accuracy of the flat on the side of the vise except that it is actually straight and flat. Now, carefully mount the vise as accurately as possible and clamp it down. Place the square against it with the adjustment screws loose and make it tight against the back of the slot and the side of the vise. Tighten up the square and use thread locker to freeze it for all time. Well, tight enough so it will not change in normal use.

                          Then I loosen the vise and reseat it against the square and clamp it down again. This is the way you will mount it for each use. Do it carefully, sliding the square against the slot and the vise against the square. Finally, check the alignment of the vise again. If it is off, take a light cut on the fixed jaw to bring it dead nuts. It should now remount in the same manner at the same angle each time you use it.

                          The flat sides of the square and vise should exhibit far lower wear than the pins and holes would. And this requires absolutely no modification to the mill.

                          This should get it +/-0.001 or less with little effort. But, if your job requires more accuracy than this provides, it still gets it very close so the fine adjustments will go very fast.
                          Paul A.
                          SE Texas

                          And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
                          You will find that it has discrete steps.


                          • #14

                            This website is for sale! is your first and best source for all of the information you’re looking for. From general topics to more of what you would expect to find here, has it all. We hope you find what you are searching for!

                            check out the production notes on the left for details on pinning a table.
                            I don't think I'll be doing any volume work any time soon that would make it worth while pinning my table for fixturing but having read through this guide I can see why it makes sense for production jobs.
                            I don't find setting up the vice a chore as I'm doing it for entertainment, I'd definitely pin & make fixture plates were I to have a serious run of components to produce,


                            • #15
                              I DID IT. Thanks for all of the suggestions. I don't know how but I ended up 5 thou off in the width of the jaw that I still need to shim or trim but I'm happy that I took the plunge and keyed the vice. Both mill and vice are Horror Freight. Happy with the mill for the price but the vice is suspect.

                              Thanks again.