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Cheap Milling Vice Question

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Blue Heeler27/09/2020 07:04:32
222 forum posts

What are peoples thoughts on this cheap 3" milling vice for use on a mini mill?


Link removed see CofC

But to keep the discussion going this is the vice up for $89auD on ebay

cheap vice.jpg


Edited By JasonB on 27/09/2020 07:20:27

Edited By JasonB on 27/09/2020 07:25:34

JasonB27/09/2020 07:25:09
18919 forum posts
2082 photos
1 articles

The basic design is fine but with the swivel base may swamp a minimill though they are not needed very often.

The real question is what factory did it come out of and what's the quality like. If a decent source then they work fine, I use a similar looking 80mm one on my CNC but there are also some that are not made so well depending on source. It's only a few dollars less than the ones from mainland companies like Ausee so is it worth taking the risk on quality.

Dave Halford27/09/2020 10:40:15
940 forum posts
9 photos

They are bigger than you envisage blush

Mick B127/09/2020 11:22:42
1734 forum posts
91 photos

It's one of the things better bought where you can see and handle the goods - to check, for example, how well the jaw edges line up for setting and whether the moving jaw lifts, tilts or stays accurately aligned as you tighten.

I bought mine (visible in some album pics) at an ME exhibition for about 20 quid and have no real complaints.

Edited By Mick B1 on 27/09/2020 11:24:33

Ronald Morrison27/09/2020 11:59:10
35 forum posts

Put an endmill or fly cutter into the spindle of your mini mill and measure the distance to the bed. Now subtract the height of the vice you mentioned from that to see what size of material you can fit into the remaining space. You may decide that the swivel base will take up too much of the space available for the amount of times you will benefit from the swivel.

SillyOldDuffer27/09/2020 12:28:24
6338 forum posts
1393 photos

No-one knows unless they've tried a real one.

I've got the same generic type and it's fine. Mine is painted green and has a simpler handle, so it may not be from the same factory, which is part of the game. Almost any firm with light-engineering capability could make them.

Maybe this example is cheap because the maker over-produced a well-made vice and is trying to reduce his losses. Or it could be cheap because it's a reject or was made too cheaply. Too cheap means fragile, off-true surfaces, jaws that lift, and a nasty lead screw etc.

It's probably reasonable but there are no guarantees. Buying inexpensive tools is always a gamble. Less so today I think than in the past. Before WW2 there was a sharp divide between good tools and utter rubbish and very little in between. Much less clear-cut today because many tools are in the middle; not the best by any means, but far from being a waste of money.

If a tool has to be unambiguously fit for purpose, there's no alternative to paying full whack for the industrial version. Unfortunately prices rocket to meet the higher specification. How about a nice Kurt? It has to be a new Kurt, because second-hand may be damaged or worn.

I hate empty descriptors like 'quality' and 'decent' in connection with tools, preferring instead to think in terms of "fit for purpose" and "value for money". If this vice is a good'un it's certainly 'value for money', but there's a risk it won't be fit for purpose. It's particularly unlikely to be fit-for-purpose used for heavy accurate clamping in a busy professional workshop, but mine was OK.  Note a vice that's too big for the machine isn't 'fit-for-purpose', and this one is quite chunky.

We all have to make judgements about how reliable our tools need to be. In my case, the answer is 'not very'. Provided they do what I need, which is relatively genteel, I don't need to waste money on tools that last. It's not a perfect system because there's a fine line between inexpensive and cheap and nasty! I come unstuck occasionally, but don't moan about it because on average the balance is strongly in my favour.








Edited By SillyOldDuffer on 27/09/2020 12:30:31

jimmy b27/09/2020 12:42:42
675 forum posts
40 photos

I've got a bigger version of this, a good vice.

Got rid of the silly handle and 3D printed a "speed" handle. Being able to move the jaws to the extremes of the vice has got me out of trouble more than once.

My other vice is a "K4" type and still gets used.

Neither has ever had the swivel part fitted.


Circlip27/09/2020 12:50:52
1198 forum posts

Can't see how "C of C" has been contravened so difficult to give an opinion as to quality or supplier. Once obtained a Small vice to modify to make workable as in an article shown in an early MEW. Mine must have come from a "Cost reduced" foundry ALSO from Taiwan. It went back to M/M, not enough material to clean up.

Regards Ian.

John Rutzen27/09/2020 13:19:41
265 forum posts
12 photos

I have on of these I bought from a reputable source and I have to say it is no better or worse than any other tool I've had from China. It certainly wasn't inspected or stripped down before I got it. The key between the fixed jaw and the base had been hammered in, there were still the hammer marks and it was bent. There were burrs on the jaw under surface. and the jaw faces don't line up perfectly. Having said this it is ok and usable and I continue to buy cheap chinese tools. I'm not prepared to pay over the odds for old battered machine vices on Fleabay.

Stuart Bridger27/09/2020 13:26:35
476 forum posts
26 photos

I made the mistake of getting an "entry level" vice bundled in with my Mill purchase.
The fixed jaw wasn't even perpendicular to the base. A milling vice is a fundamental piece of kit in your workshop, and accuracy depends on it. Subsequently I purchased a Vertex and have had no issues.

old mart27/09/2020 14:07:29
2006 forum posts
155 photos

I bought a 5" model from ARC which opens 6". It is as big as I would ever want to use on the drill mill and too big for the Tom Senior. have used it recently on the TS clamped in line with the X axis. This type of vise is best used without the swivel base attached. The swivel base takes up Z axis space and is best left for those jobs which actually need it. However, it you have the choice between getting the vise with or without the swivel base, always get it as there are rare times when it is worth its weight in gold. They are prone to getting a lot of swarf in them, and need to be dismantled and cleaned regularly. I would think the 3" that you are interested in will work very well with a mini mill, when you get it, check that it is square and will hold your work properly.

Edited By old mart on 27/09/2020 14:10:33

not done it yet27/09/2020 14:58:14
5033 forum posts
20 photos
Posted by Circlip on 27/09/2020 12:50:52:

Can't see how "C of C" has been contravened....

Likely from a rubbish supplier that often sells reject items and is utterly useless regarding any recompense for trash sold? If it is, there is likely some fault somewhere.🙂 I think they specialise in selling rejects.

Vic27/09/2020 15:10:59
2618 forum posts
20 photos

I use this type which I’m well pleased with.


Setting up small stuff to mill is quite easy with a vice like this with a solid base.

Isn’t it a bit of a faff with the open type and don’t chips end up falling through as well?

old mart27/09/2020 18:21:15
2006 forum posts
155 photos

We have two very good quality Bison 100mm vises which are a similar design as the Soba pictured, and even with hand stoning to tighten them up still exibit the design problems of lifting of the moving jaw. Its something you learn to live with.

Blue Heeler28/09/2020 02:38:59
222 forum posts

Thanks for the replies all. My Australian made vintage Carter mill vice casting gave way yesterday (I think I might have overstrained it ) I was gutted when it happened.

Blue Heeler28/09/2020 03:52:54
222 forum posts

I have had this knockoff K type for about 10 years (don't use the the bottom half) but it isn't a pinch on the old Carter

Hopper28/09/2020 07:49:12
4817 forum posts
105 photos

machine vice2.jpg

I know two people who have bought this type of "machine vice" off Aliexpress and the quality is outstandingly good. Price is about the same as the one you were looking at. But its only a 2-inch not a 3-inch. But a darn nice bit of kit. Hardened and very nicely ground all over. Square, straight and parallel in all the places it should be. And the clamping action is downwards thanks to that angled clamping bolt.

You have to use a pair of clamps and bolts to hold it down but can be made a bit easier by mounting it to a piece of flat plate with bolt slots cut in it.

Edited By Hopper on 28/09/2020 07:51:50

Edited By Hopper on 28/09/2020 07:53:57

not done it yet28/09/2020 10:40:56
5033 forum posts
20 photos

I have numerous vises around the place.

Chester (Ugh. Used on the Centec but limited, partly by the fact of only two table T-slots on the Centec. Generally used only for the extra opening width, with the jaws fitted behind and in front of the usual positions. The vise is not particularly refined, but it was my first purchase after buying the Centec.

Abwood 4” (good)

Abwood tilting (Good, but big - not used often but when needed is very good. Certainly needs the riser block on the Centec!

70 and 90mm type 2 vises from Arc (Delightful to use, once used to their operation. Both in regular use. One bought directly from Arc and other (in as-new condition) from a forum member who was disillusioned with it. Clearance between bolt and bed checked before use - bigger one was from an earlier batch and needed the bolt shortening slightly to be idiot-proof - presumably that fault has since been rectified at source. Main gripe is the (common) use of allen head screws which collect swarf - I may eventually change one, or both, for a bolt which will accept a box spanner 🙂 . I particularly like that they can easily be moved back and forth on the table to help with ‘reach’ on occasions).

Vic28/09/2020 11:09:25
2618 forum posts
20 photos

Ah Yes Abwood. I had one of those on my first mill but let it go with the mill when I sold it. I bought the vice second hand and it came without a handle. I went over to Abwoods place in London and bought a replacement. I don’t think they’re there any more. It’s a shame folks deride these type of vice as I’m sure thousands of them were used in industry to good effect in this country for decades. When I bought my second mill I had to search for a new vice and I think the best design I found was actually Italian made but sadly way over my budget so I went Indian! laugh

Circlip28/09/2020 11:37:31
1198 forum posts

Ah double yes, the Abwood. In how many proper ingineering shops could you walk past a milling machine with one bolted to the top slide? At the side of it, the handle showing the planishings of the "Gentle" massage of a copper hammer???? This was of course necessary to ensure the lump of metal was securely fastened before cleaving damn gert lumps from the job. Sadly 90% of the rubbish sold to serve toy machinery hasn't the spheroids to resist the ministrations of a rubber hammer.

Blue Heeler, thought of getting rid of the body casting altogether and using the machine table as the body? Two jaws, one fixed and an adjustable?

Regards Ian.

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