Harold Hall

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 different locations.


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.              


Workshop Processes

Vice, Toolmakers style
Lathe Vertical Slide, using
Vice, Toolmakers style
Vice, Toolmakers style
Vice, Toolmakers style