You may ask just how such a large vice can be accommodated on a mini mill? This is
because of the much more flexible method of securing this style of vice. This also
enables it to gain strength from the machine's table and can therefore be of a lighter
construction. And here we have come to the reason for the title of this article,
“The benefits of the Toolmakers Vice style”. The two main features of the style
is their method of securing the vice to the work surface and their rectangular form.
The mounting method is for me a major plus, becoming even more so when being used
on a small worktable, Photo 4 showing one mounted on a lathe's vertical slide. It
can be seen from this that it complements the slides traverse, as the slide can be
left in a position that best provides the traverse required by the machining to be
undertaken, and the workpiece in the vice being moved close to the cutter. There
is no need to use the slide to its limits, sometimes even finding there is insufficient
traverse to get the workpiece into place. Compare this with Photo 5 which shows a
typical vice often used on the vertical slide. This illustrates that the scope for
positioning it is very limited but also has a very much smaller workpiece capacity.
Photo 6 shows the same vice as in Photograph 4 but mounted across the table rather
than along its length. This due to the throat depth of the milling head being insufficient
to machine the part fully on that axis. However, when mounted between tee slots the
clamps obviously have to suit the tee slot centres and may result in other clamps
having to be made.
Shop made clamps are required
It occurs to me that some may be unaware that the clamps are not supplied with these
vices and have to be made, maybe more than one set if to be used on different work
tables. Even though this is a minor minus, the method gives the vice a definite plus
in terms of its adaptability, allowing it to be mounted in differing ways and in
The other beneficial feature is their rectangular form which due to the accuracy
they are made to, permits them to be positioned on the worktable using just a square
off the tables edge Photo 7. Of course, the first time this is attempted the result
should be checked with a dial test indicator just in case the front of the machine
is not parallel, or the side of the vice at right angles, to the tables traverse,
or the square being used is inaccurate.
The adaptability of the vice's mounting method also permits it to placed at an angle
to the tables traverse and if using a vernier protractor, Photo 8, to a high level
of precision. This something that would be difficult with any other form of vice,
though of course such accuracy is not that often required.