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Starrett Tool Makers Steel Clamps

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Stewart Hart27/11/2017 16:10:41
669 forum posts
354 photos

Hi whilst browsing through an old Starrett catalogue I came across these Tool Makers Clamps


They are something I've not come across before and as they looked as if they could be a useful bit of kit I did a bit more research, and found out that Starrett still market a version of Chinese manufacture at about $60 each.

Starrett did sell them as a matched pair which would make them even more useful I've since found out that Brown and Sharp sold something similar but they had a V along the bottom so they could be used as a small V block

Has any one come across these before and have they got any experience of using them ?.

I don't think it would be to difficult to make a matching set.


John Reese27/11/2017 17:21:53
1001 forum posts

I see them on the Bay a lot, both Starrett and Brown & Sharpe. I can't justify the price they ask. I have one in my box that I acquired many years ago. I never use it. Just take it out once in a while to admire the color case hardening.

Clive Foster27/11/2017 17:23:38
2887 forum posts
104 photos

Usually one or more on E-Bay at something approaching respectable price. But the small clamp plate is almost invariably missing.

Never encountered a genuine Starrett but have seen a similar device or two of clearly less quality. Possibly shop made. Despite looking OK were quite unpleasant to use as both work and vice spacer wanted to escape until locked hard down.

On reflection probably deceptively difficult to make as the screw needs to run really true to the base and the end stop be exactly perpendicular to it. Similarly the faces and screw end receptacle in the clamp spacer need to be correctly aligned. Wants a good finish on the working surfaces too. I'd be unsurprised to discover that the screw is a bit above centre on the clamping parts to produce a bit of push down force.

Looks to be one of those "get it right third of fourth time jobs". Might well be easier to amen the ends to bolt down onto a plain bar. Weaker but you can concentrate on getting each end-block really true with a nice finish. And if the screw hole wanders a touch when tapped its easier to correct or, at worst, a lot less to scrap.

Maybe a nice shaper project.


Edited By Clive Foster on 27/11/2017 17:24:00

Edited By Clive Foster on 27/11/2017 17:24:17

JasonB27/11/2017 17:43:03
21636 forum posts
2493 photos
1 articles

here you go Stew, Mrpete will show you how to do it. Think I would keep the outside end of the fixed jaw square so they can be stood on end rather than tapering it. maybe also add some grooves in base and fixed jaw so they can be clamped to a mill table etc. Or just buy a pair of small precision vices from Uncle Ketan.

Nigel Bennett27/11/2017 17:48:42
424 forum posts
11 photos

I have a pair of the Starrett clamps as in the original advert - but I only have one of the small clamp plates - the loose piece shown to the right. No idea where it went (Grrr!) but it has a tiny spring circlip affair in the hole so it clicks on and off the screw to retain it - as do the I-section ones. Beautiful pieces of work. Don't get much use but they do come in occasionally.

Bob Murray27/11/2017 18:34:47
24 forum posts

I have a pair, and find them quite useful. Not shown in the drawing above is the countersunk hole through the bed that will fit a #10 (and presumably 2BA and 5mm) flat head screw for attachment to another object. I have used them in the milling vise and drill press vise for machining small bits, and in the bench vise as an instrument vise.

Stewart Hart27/11/2017 19:09:52
669 forum posts
354 photos

Thanks for your input Chaps, some I'd thought about some had passed me by.

I was a little puzzled why they are described as clamps then I realised that they didn't' have the tong, groove and keep to stop the jaw tilting, so I guess that's why they call them clamps, and not vices, because of this I think you must have to use them differently to keep the work square. I'm still thinking about the best way to configure the screw:- on centre, above, or below, what I do think though is that it must have quite a sloppy fit to allow it freedom to tilt and push the work up against the square fixed jaw and keep the work square.

I had a good look at the ones on ebay and the odd ones show signs of being modified.

Jason I did buy a pair from Uncle Ketan but was disappointed to find that they were far from being a matched set but to be fair to Ketan I didn't stipulate that I wanted a matched pair.

I've come to the conclusion that they would be most use as a matched set, so I've drawn them up as a pair tied together with some spacers plus I've put a groove down the side for clamping and I've left the end square I'll also add a V on the inside of the jaw for round bar and I'll put a V goove along the bottom of one so that it could be used as a V block not quite worked out a clamp for this yet.

Her's whot I've roughed out. Don't know when I'll get round to making them as I'm busy making the motion bracket for the loco I'm building.



tool makers steel clamp.jpg

Edited By Stewart Hart on 27/11/2017 19:16:31

Samsaranda27/11/2017 19:31:11
1251 forum posts
5 photos

Bit different to the toolmakers clamps we had to make when we were at tech college.

Dave W

roy entwistle28/11/2017 09:33:14
1439 forum posts

I have three Brown & Sharpe ex WD and they all match


Howard Lewis30/11/2017 12:02:33
5550 forum posts
13 photos

I was given an Eclipse (No 235), described as a Vee Vice.

A very useful, and precise bit of kit.

Saw one advertised in USA a year or two back, for $69 from memory. The shipping would have about doubled that!


Edited By Howard Lewis on 30/11/2017 12:06:04

Stewart Hart18/12/2017 17:11:20
669 forum posts
354 photos

Idle hand and all that, when the cold spell drove me out of the shed I did a little on line search on the site and came across some old 1900 ish publication called American Machinist

And low and behold I came across these ideas for using the clamps.



Be warned that the link comes with a warning you can easily lose a couple of days of your life browsing it.


colin hawes18/12/2017 19:13:01
548 forum posts
18 photos

I have a vice which is similar to the Starrett one which was made for use on a surface grinder and is very accurately ground all over. Colin

Neil Wyatt18/12/2017 19:37:10
18807 forum posts
733 photos
80 articles

I wish MEW readers would submit 'halftones' and figure like that with their tips cheeky


Stewart Hart19/12/2017 07:40:47
669 forum posts
354 photos
Posted by Neil Wyatt on 18/12/2017 19:37:10:

I wish MEW readers would submit 'halftones' and figure like that with their tips cheeky


Yes I know what you mean Neil I can appreciate the art in a a good technical illustration, Ashley Best does some very nice illustration for his tram articles in ME.

The American Machinist articles come from a time when photography was very much in its infancy, so you had to rely on the skill of the technical illustrator but this was the weakness in the system as the illustrator had to fully understand the issues of what he is illustrating, the clamps being used to Centre a bar is a good example of this:- In the accompanying text, it explains that the clamps have to be mounted the opposite way round so that the part is pulled on the centre line, but for this to happen the clamps needs to swivel slightly so that the parts comes across the diagonal the illustration doesn't show this.


Now a days with digital photography taking a photographs has never been easier and it captures everything but this is its weakness it captures all the background clutter and unnecessary detail and can hide the whole point of the picture.



Philrob2719/12/2017 09:15:17
15 forum posts

Wow this brings back memories I made one of these as an apprentice project during my first year machining basic training with Rolls Royce Bristol in 1976 and it’s still in use now.

During this first year we made a large and small vice, centre finder, drill gauge, holding block, scribing gauge and various other useful tools and a toolbox to put them in.

The apprenticeship lasted 4 years, 1 years general machining and electrical work and 3 years in the works. I qualified as an Electronic Instrument maker which has given me the grounding I have to have a go at fixing anything.

I now see graduates coming into the business who have engineering degrees that have no practical experience of machining or engineering, these graduates stay about 18 months within the various departments (to get the tick in the box) then move on. They may be wizzes with software manipulation but cannot pick up a file and deburr a component.

As most of the components we use now are bought in finished I’m guessing this dinosaur has had his day with work engineering. The current new manufacture project I am working on is due to finish within the next couple of months, then we will change to component repair work, so I will have to stick to hobby engineering to keep the machining skills in place.

Tony Pratt 119/12/2017 09:40:35
1762 forum posts
8 photos

My son has just finished an electronic engineering apprenticeship & now doing a degree, but as a Toolmaker I have always encouraged him in the practical skills so he has the best of both worlds. He is now heading up a team of more senior 'engineers' than him, none of which are multi disciplined.

I have found in my long working life the best people to work alongside are the ones who are actually interested in what they are doing, sadly there are many of that breed around!


Russell Eberhardt19/12/2017 15:24:30
2720 forum posts
86 photos

Posted by Tony Pratt 1 on 19/12/2017 09:40:35:

I have found in my long working life the best people to work alongside are the ones who are actually interested in what they are doing, sadly there are many of that breed around!

Yes, when interviewing candidates for electronic development work I always favored those who had a hobby interest in the subject as well as a good degree.


Mark Kilgore28/12/2017 02:18:50
9 forum posts

One of the Starretts, using the shallower movable jaw, makes a cracking good carriage stop for a Myford Series 7 lathe. Turn the clamp over, lay the inside bottom on the front way and tighten against the outside shear. Solid!

Dave Martin28/12/2017 08:34:25
101 forum posts
11 photos

Stew - PM sent


Tim Stevens28/12/2017 11:29:11
1502 forum posts

With all respect to Stuart and his note about photography, I suggest that it was not this exactly but the difficulty of turning a photo into something that would print successfully, on the cheap paper used for magazines.

Making a zinc plate covered with dots of different sizes was time consuming and required skill, so was expensive, and the results were never good on absorbent wood-pulp paper. A drawing in black and white was much easier as what was needed was to turn the black lines into a printing surface and leaving the white areas low to collect no ink.

Progress has automated the processes, and so we now have excellent photo reproduction, in colour too, but always printed on fairly shiny (smooth surfaced) paper. Called, incidentally, 'art paper' because it was introduced to reproduce works of art in magazines called 'glossies'. We still rely on old-style line drawings, though, when the detail really does matter. Jobs like workshop manuals and parts lists (when there really were such things) and cut-away drawings were always illustrated from line drawings produced by technical illustrators.

Perhaps this would make a suitable competition for MEW next Christmas? Best sketch in black and white of a technical subject, produced by a subscriber (who is not a professional illustrator). A picture, after all, is worth a thousand words.

Regards, Tim

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