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Milling Vice ......... Avice.

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Nick_G04/10/2014 18:53:32
1808 forum posts
744 photos


I realise that there will be not clear 'do it all' answer to this one.

I am about to purchase in the next couple of weeks a mill. To go with it along with a clamping kit I will need some type of vice. I don't think blu-tack will suffice will it. wink

So what would be a good starting vice. I know that a good one is a must and a poor quality one is next to useless. So lets say £150 is my topside budget.

I intend to start with making models of the Stuart engine size.

1) Do I need to spend that much.

2) Is a jaw width of 100mm about right, or smaller / larger.

3) One with a swivel facility a good idea or would I be sacrificing rigidity.

As I said I do realise there is probably not a cover it all solution and as I progress I will probably have to supplement with additional ones. But what is a good starting point.?

Cheers, Nick

ronan walsh04/10/2014 19:03:22
546 forum posts
32 photos

G and m tools have a few quality machine vices withing your budget and around the size you want. What mill are you going to buy ?

Nick_G04/10/2014 19:09:54
1808 forum posts
744 photos


Most probably an SX3


Gray6204/10/2014 19:10:03
1047 forum posts
14 photos

For most small to medium sized bench mills I would suggest having a look at the DH1 from Warco, I've had one for a few years now with all the additional jaws as I got a good deal. It is a bit above your stated budget but IMHO well worth the investment. I have a Ajax AJT4 (bit heftier than a Bridgeport) and it is my go to vice for all but the largest of jobs although it is a bit dwarfed by the machine but it would be quite at home on a smaller mill.

Edited By CoalBurner on 04/10/2014 19:11:52

Bob Brown 104/10/2014 19:16:25
1020 forum posts
127 photos

I tend in the main not to use a vice when milling, I prefer to clamp the job and although the one I have came with a swivel base I have never used it, I do use the vice for drilling but that's about the only time it comes out. I think it would be better to spend the money on some parallels, 3 2 1 blocks, Vee blocks and a angle plate etc.


NJH04/10/2014 19:59:55
2314 forum posts
139 photos


I have one similar to this - it's within your budget and I find it OK. The swivel facility does, of course, compromise the rigidity to some extent and also reduces the headroom - but it can be removed if you wish. On the other hand it can also be quite useful at times! Quite adequate for most of the Stuart range I think - it will probably be a while before you get to the 6A!


JasonB04/10/2014 20:05:28
20640 forum posts
2296 photos
1 articles

Another vote for the K4 I've had one on my X3 for about 8yrs without a problem, tiik it off teh swivel base as it gives a bit more head room. Use it for most things that will fit so say 60% of the time the remainder its clamped to the table or angle plates, I also do 99% of my drilling in the mill so that swhy the drill vice does not see much action these days.


John Haine04/10/2014 23:23:47
3874 forum posts
224 photos

I'd go with Bob, get a clamping kit, a selection of toolmakers clamps, a couple of angle plates, maybe a vee block. Though I have a couple of vices most of the time I don't use them for milling.

Steve Sharman04/10/2014 23:44:32
25 forum posts

I agree with Bob Brown and John Haines. The only difference between a "good" vice and a "poor" vice is how accurately it holds the workpiece. Once clocked up properly, a good vice will show good repeatability. If you are only milling a single item, clocking up a "poor" vice and loading your workpiece will result in an accurate finished article anyway (assuming you do your bit right) so why spend good money on a luxury item that you wont reap the full benefit from?


Tony Ray05/10/2014 01:12:03
178 forum posts
43 photos

I have an SX3 and use. A K4 but having seen the DH1 and it's versatility I think it offers better value for money in the long run. I do have a clamping kit but use the vice more frequently, I would also suggest that you need some parallels.


Andrew Johnston05/10/2014 07:35:55
6055 forum posts
671 photos
Posted by Steve Sharman on 04/10/2014 23:44:32:

The only difference between a "good" vice and a "poor" vice is how accurately it holds the workpiece.

Not quite so, there have been tales of woe on this forum about fixed jaws breaking off cheap vices when they are tightened. crying 2

Like JasonB I do nearly all my drilling on the vertical mill, so I use a vice for a lot of my work on the vertical, and CNC, mills. I simply don't have the time or inclination to faff around clocking every part I put in the vice. Once it's aligned, and I can zero the DRO on the jaw edges I know the work will be held accurately, to better than a thou. My vice doesn't have a swivel base, and I have never needed one.

I can't help with a specific recommendation as I have no experience of small vices. For what it's worth I have a Kurt D688, but it would be too big for the smaller mill, and it's also way outside budget. sad For me it was a good investment from which I reap the benefit; if nothing else it doesn't suffer from any significant jaw lift.



PS added on edit: You can never have too many clamp kits, at last count I think I'm up to 7 sets. smile o

Edited By Andrew Johnston on 05/10/2014 07:37:20

Bob Brown 105/10/2014 08:20:28
1020 forum posts
127 photos

Just using clamps, if I have more than one part to machine I use stop blocks to maintain the position of consecutive parts. One problem with a machine vice is you need to hold the part correctly, in the vice clamping it in the middle of the jaws and not holing it so there is too much sticking above the vice.

JasonB05/10/2014 08:41:54
20640 forum posts
2296 photos
1 articles

Provided the jaw of your chuck does not twist then holding work at the end should not be a problem and its easy enough to add stops to teh vice for repetative work.

As an example this barend of 1.5" steel was done last night, took out most of the waste by plunging down with a 5/8" 4-flute milling cutter 0.100" steps so plenty of downwards force then used the boring head to open the radius to 1.25" nice interupted cut to shake things loose but no movement.

Bob Brown 105/10/2014 09:04:28
1020 forum posts
127 photos


That is not a recommended way to hold a part in a machine vice no matter how good your vice is. Instead of applying the grip along the length of the part most of the load will be applied to the end of the part as the jaws twist even if there is only a small amount of play in the jaws.

See **LINK**

JasonB05/10/2014 09:28:12
20640 forum posts
2296 photos
1 articles

Agreed Bob its not best practice but you do not NEED to limit yourself to just the middle of the jaws when the job in hand may be better done at the end. Another way to get a grip if your jaws tend to swivel is to put another packer of the same width at the opposite end which will keep the jaws from twisting.

I also see that the site you link to says a vice is the most common way of holding workwink 2

We all have our own ways of working, what I would suggest to Nick is to look at some build threads of the sort of engines he wants to make and see how the parts are being held and what other tooling is being used and then make a decision of what to buy from that.

Oompa Lumpa05/10/2014 09:39:51
888 forum posts
36 photos

It doesn't matter which vice you buy, you will always have that nagging doubt in the back of your mind that "another brand" would have been a better decision!

I would go with a combination of suggestions given above. For some jobs, a vice is the simplest, quickest and most accurate solution. The Vertex vice Jason uses are around £70 so there is about half your budget, then you could buy a toolmakers style vice with three inch jaws and these can be had for around £50 from Arc. Then get yourself a clamp kit (£30 ish from Chester) and you have most of your bases covered. As you go along you can collect up other things such as parallels and angle plates. For a start a couple of pieces of tool steel can be used as parallels but then you can try out the various solutions. Personally I use a set of so-called Wavy Parallels most as these are - in my opinion - the most versatile.

Angle plates, hardened steel ball race outers and all sorts of things I have to help getting a grip of whatever I am working on are all in a drawer under the Mill. The page Bob linked to is a useful reference and I suggest you either bookmark it or print it out for future, ie when you get your Mill. In my humble opinion, fifty percent of Mill work is figuring out how to get a grip of some awkward shape so it won't move during machining.


Tony Pratt 105/10/2014 10:41:42
1544 forum posts
8 photos
Posted by JasonB on 05/10/2014 08:41:54:

Provided the jaw of your chuck does not twist then holding work at the end should not be a problem and its easy enough to add stops to teh vice for repetative work.

As an example this barend of 1.5" steel was done last night, took out most of the waste by plunging down with a 5/8" 4-flute milling cutter 0.100" steps so plenty of downwards force then used the boring head to open the radius to 1.25" nice interupted cut to shake things loose but no movement.

It's good practice if holding work at one end of the vice to 'balance' the jaws by using a screw jack to support the open end. this will stop potential damage to the vice and ensure a much better grip on the work piece.


Muzzer05/10/2014 23:19:33
2904 forum posts
448 photos

The 6" Kurt-style Anglock vise that Andrew mentioned is heavily copied, so Chinese versions are readily available for a lot less than the Full Monty. RDG does a 4" version for 108 quid inc vat. which I assume is from that origin. I have a Chinese 6" copy of otherwise unclear parentage that is about the right size for my Bridgeport clone. It actually cost about the same as this 4" example last year and is perfectly accurate for my needs when set up properly. I use it for the vast majority of milling work ie where at all possible.

The much-copied "angle lock" feature applies some of the clamping force to pull the moving jaws down against the bed of the vise, taking up any play and preventing (or at least reducing?) jaw lift. I suspect the simple design of the Kurt vise lends itself to being copied and probably isn't difficult to manufacture fairly accurately.

Not all vises and rotary tables have cast-in coolant channels like the one in the link but if you are going to use flood coolant, it's really helpful to have it channelled back through the table rather then streaming all over the floor. It may be another feature to look for, depending what you plan to use it for.

A set of ground parallels and a sprung parallel keeper is another nice addition I use a lot. Obviously you will be fitting a DRO as a matter of course....


ronan walsh06/10/2014 00:27:24
546 forum posts
32 photos

Someone on here recently bought a precision vice for their mill just like the one in the link below at the top of the page. Not too expensive and seem to be able to open very widely for holding large work. I am considering buying one for myself.

Nigel McBurney 106/10/2014 09:50:31
876 forum posts
3 photos

On a small mill go for 4 inch jaws,with a plain base,make sure the fixed jaw is sturdy and will not deflect when tightened and is vertical,some of the cheap ones are not very true,also the moving jaw must not lift when being tightened,if it lifts you will never get accurate work,swivel base vices are rarely used and make the vice higher ,which reduces the height capacity of the mill,Parallels,I tend to make my own ,usually from gauge plate,the snag with standard parallels is that they are usually made to full fractions,i.e. 1/2 3/4 1 inch so if your vice has 1 1/2 inch high jaws and you want to machine a small amount of a 1/2 in bar ,a 1 in parallel brings the bar flush with jaws, a 1 1/4 parallel holds the work too high in the vice ,a 1 1/16 parallel would hold the work proud above the jaws by only 1/16. which allows a skim to be taken but the work is held firm and square. By using a combination of standard parallel and specials ,work can be held well down in the vice jaws. Some toolmakers make their own parallels in aluminium,the reasoning is they are quick and cheap to make and if you do hit the parallel with a cutter,no damage is done to an expensive cutter. clamping direct to table is ok on small mills where the T slots are small,when you get to bridgeport size tables the T slots are larger and clamping is more difficult on small work pieces, I prefer the continental toolroom mills with near square tables and a lot more T slots,they are a lot easier to work on.I do not know why US and UK built machine were built for so many years with standard narrow tables having 3 slots a turret mill would be so much more useful with a wider 4 slot table .I realise full universal mills with swivelling do need a table with a dead central slot for spiral milling.

A solution to small work which cannot be held in the vice jaws is hold an ali block say 3 by 4 ins in the vice ,drill and tap some holes say m8 to hold small clamps, then skim the block with fly cutter to clean up so the face of the block is now square to the spindle axis, which can result in very accurate work,a thick block can be skimmed a lot of times

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