Harold Hall


Toolmakers Vices, their pluses and minuses

Dealing with the minuses first, they are only commonly available in relatively smaller sizes, typically 50mm jaw width opening to 50mm, and secondly, mainly then as precision items and have a price tag to match. The price being particularly high for the relatively few that are made in the larger sizes.


With regard to the pluses, briefly these are the method of securing them to the worktable is much more adaptable than most other types and their rectangular form often makes it easier to position them accurately, other than where a very high degree of precision is required, rare in my case.


The problems for the small machine owner

Whilst many milling machine owners will have at some time stretched the capacity of their milling machine to its limits, though I can never remember doing this myself having a quite large machine, it is in my estimation more likely that this will happen more often for those using a mini machine. This reminds me that I did just that when I machined the base plate for the Tina horizontal steam engine using my milling head on my Myford, Photo 2.


As implied above, many would have liked a larger machine but this has been prevented by cost or space considerations. They are though unlikely, at least initially, to downsize their ambitions by much. Unfortunately, whilst there are now many suppliers of smaller milling machines the accessories for these seem to be lagging behind, unless I am missing something.


Whilst rotary tables of a suitable size (75/100mm diameter) are readily available quite the opposite is the case where dividing heads are concerned and it is very much a case of make ones own. That is, unless the limited range of divisions provided by a spin indexer is considered sufficient. This brings me to the machine vice.


Milling vices.

Here the range is vast, though there are a very few that will provide a capacity that will minimise the limits of using a mini mill.  For example, why do most vices only open to an amount similar to the jaws width, some even less? Some, such as the smaller one seen in Photo 3, only has a capacity of 50mm with a 50mm jaw width, very limiting for the mini milling machine owner.


I cannot offer to provide a complete answer, but the mini mill owner may find the toolmakers style vices, mentioned above, a worthwhile route to take.  A 100mm x 100mm capacity vice for around £34.00 including postage (2012 prices) is worth considering. Any other vice with that capacity is likely to be far too heavy for using on a mini mill.              


Workshop Processes

Milling Vices