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Making milling vise jaws

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Steve35520/09/2021 22:38:47
54 forum posts
47 photos

Hi

First post! How exciting!

I recently got myself a Dore Westbury mill, with no vise, so I got one from eBay, only to realise that it has no jaws. No problem, nice first project I reckon, so I am planning to get some mild steel bar and make some,

but what size are vise jaws supposed to be, compared to the vise body? Looks like the space for the jaws is 4 1/4 “ x 1 3/8”. Does this mean I should be aiming for 4.5 inch by 1.5 inch? Would make sense but I’d be interested to hear the view of someone who knows.

Thanks

Steve

Baz21/09/2021 07:06:33
578 forum posts
2 photos

Sounds about right but really up to you. I always make vice jaws out of gauge plate, saves grinding them and usually about 3/8 inch thick.

David George 121/09/2021 07:08:21
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1656 forum posts
497 photos

Hi Steve welcome to the forum. The sizes that you are suggesting seem to be about right, perhaps 3/8 thick, but personally I would use guage plate instead of mild steel as mild steel will easily be dented by swarf and when holding small pieces they may dent the softer steel. Also it comes ground flat which will help with holding jobs square and flat.

David

DMB21/09/2021 08:02:48
1164 forum posts
1 photos

Hi Steve, welcome to the forum. Go on YouTube, tap magnifying glass symbol and type in Joe Pieczynski. Think I'v spelt it right. All his workshop videos will appear. Look for vice stops and note how he fits a removable sliding clamp to the top edge of the fixed jaw. Seems a brilliantly simple idea but suggest it may call for a jaw that sticks up above the vice body by 3/8" or more. So you will need jaw material slightly wider than suggested. I would have made one long ago, if I could fit it but my vice jaws don't project high enough to enable it. So annoyed, thinking about replacing the commercially fitted jaws.

Good luck,

John

DMB21/09/2021 08:33:40
1164 forum posts
1 photos

Hi Steve,

Me again, just to add that 'Blondihacks' also does a video on making a vice jaw stop.I prefer Joe's version. It's all part of repeatability, which is so essential to producing identical parts.

John

Steve35521/09/2021 09:29:01
54 forum posts
47 photos

Thanks all for your very helpful replies.

Reason I was considering mild steel, was that it’s my first ever milling project! And I am bound to mess it up. Gauge plate looks expensive, mild steel relatively cheap. I was gonna make it out of mild steel and then remake it out of gauge plate once I have a little more idea what I’m doing. But perhaps I can just get the gauge plate cut to size and there’s nothing to do with it other than drill attachment holes?

Thanks for the ideas about the vice clamp, I will check out the videos, I have a bit of a sweet spot for Blondihacks, so I’ll probably go there first 😎

Tony Pratt 121/09/2021 09:55:22
1692 forum posts
8 photos

Hi Steve, it's unlikely you will get gauge plate cut exactly as you need it. As above gauge plate is ground on both sides plus tougher than mild steel, it's not difficult to machine if you know what you are doing.

Tony

Edited By Tony Pratt 1 on 21/09/2021 10:00:44

Steve35521/09/2021 16:04:05
54 forum posts
47 photos

“it's not difficult to machine if you know what you are doing”

ahhh, but I don’t really. That’s the thing.

Tony Pratt 121/09/2021 16:23:47
1692 forum posts
8 photos
Posted by Steve355 on 21/09/2021 16:04:05:

“it's not difficult to machine if you know what you are doing”

ahhh, but I don’t really. That’s the thing.

LOL I do realise that!

Tony

SillyOldDuffer21/09/2021 17:09:05
Moderator
7550 forum posts
1680 photos

I'd say mild-steel is suitable for a first attempt, in fact a decent beginner challenge. I fitted plain mild-steel jaws to my Record Vice №4 in preference to its hardened originals because they tended to mark the sort of work I do. I also made aluminium faces for more delicate work, but buying a pair of fibre jaws was a waste of money: not used them yet.

I consider my mild-steel jaws to be disposable, because they do slowly ding up as David George describes. How long it takes to knacker a set of jaws depends on the volume of work done and how brutal it is. If mild-steel isn't good enough, you could case-harden it, or switch to gauge plate, or one of the tough steels; beware - tough steels can be a pain to machine, which is why gauge plate exists. The other big advantage of gauge plate is it is ground flat and parallel, important on a machine vice. Bright Mild Steel isn't so accurate, but my experience of of bits cut from the same rolling has been good enough for most purposes.

As to the sizes, jaws are usually slightly wider than the vice and deep enough to close without putting the screw to end-of-travel. What you suggest sounds right. One trick is to knock up some jaws in wood or cardboard and test them for fit, opening and closure before spending time and money on a potential misfit in steel. Once confident the template is the right size, then make the real one.

Provided they are parallel there's a fair amount of latitude in jaw making so don't worry too much. Might even be an advantage make your own - fit taller jaws or cut Vs in them to holding round stock.

I take it the vice was second-hand? If so don't be afraid to scrap it if it's poor condition: missing jaws may be the tip of an iceberg because vices are often badly abused. Get rid if it doesn't grip properly: jaws lifting badly or not parallel; twisted frame; rocking; worn screw / nut, or other obvious defects. Perfection isn't essential - quite often lifting can be fixed by tapping the work down with a mallet - but a machine vice that allows work to move or won't grip straight is a pain in the proverbial.

Dave

JasonB21/09/2021 17:09:13
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Moderator
21435 forum posts
2448 photos
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My simple vice stop with drawings is here, will clamp onto quite a small jaw projection and also allows quite thin stock to be held when it's in use.

Steve35521/09/2021 23:37:37
54 forum posts
47 photos

Well, I’ve ordered some gauge plate, turned out 3/8 wasn’t enough so I’ve gone for 5/8. It cost more than the vise! More fool me. Never mind, it the journey, not the destination. I should have enough left over to make a vise stop and more bits to boot.

Vise seems parallel, I’ve checked with some gauge blocks. I stripped it down completely, refurbed and repainted it, Seems very solid.

in the past I’ve had great success buying vintage woodworking tools and refurbishing them, I’m beginning to think machine tools might be more tricky!Milling vise

DMB22/09/2021 09:12:50
1164 forum posts
1 photos

Hi, S.O.D.,

I have some fibre jaws. OK, but no good for holding round work vertical for threading - work just slips.

Normally have 2 pieces of 1 1/2" steel angle sitting on the OEM jaws. Downside is, have to close vice when finished with or one small knock and I'm locating them from the floor!

Also got some nice home made Ali ones with ends bent around OEM jaws and they tend to stay put.

Hi Steve,

See you have vice mounted on swivel. I dont use a swivel facility much but daylight 'tween chuck and top of vice a nightmare, so use vice without the swivel base for a little more space above.

John

Steve35523/09/2021 06:01:02
54 forum posts
47 photos

John

“See you have vice mounted on swivel. I dont use a swivel facility much but daylight 'tween chuck and top of vice a nightmare, so use vice without the swivel base for a little more space above.”

I did try it, and found the connection bolt notches on the vise without the swivel were too narrow for the T slots on the table, whereas the notches on the swivel base happen to fit perfectly. Luckily, my particular Dore Westbury mill has an extra long column.

Steve

Steve35523/09/2021 06:07:07
54 forum posts
47 photos

Hi all,

So my gauge plate should be arriving today, Would someone be kind enough to explain the basic process for making vise jaws from gauge plate for an idiot with a vise with no jaws.

thanks

Steve

not done it yet23/09/2021 07:42:54
6322 forum posts
20 photos
Posted by Steve355 on 23/09/2021 06:01:02:

John

“See you have vice mounted on swivel. I dont use a swivel facility much but daylight 'tween chuck and top of vice a nightmare, so use vice without the swivel base for a little more space above.”

I did try it, and found the connection bolt notches on the vise without the swivel were too narrow for the T slots on the table, whereas the notches on the swivel base happen to fit perfectly. Luckily, my particular Dore Westbury mill has an extra long column.

Steve

You have a lathe, so you could (easily?) make a couple of stepped studs to fit both the T nuts and the vise slots.

Nearly everyone would say that apart from the height issue, the vise fitted dorectly to the table is a better set up.

None of mine have a swivelling ‘feature’ while fitted to the mills.

Oldiron23/09/2021 09:27:23
850 forum posts
23 photos
Posted by Steve355 on 23/09/2021 06:07:07:

Hi all,

So my gauge plate should be arriving today, Would someone be kind enough to explain the basic process for making vise jaws from gauge plate for an idiot with a vise with no jaws.

thanks

Steve

Cut jaws to length/drill/countersink and fit to vice. Fit vise to mill table and the mill top and sides of jaws to suit. Make sure vise is parrallel to table with an indicator. Plenty of YT videos on the subject. Just do a search.

regards

Edited By Oldiron on 23/09/2021 09:28:33

Howard Lewis23/09/2021 11:30:31
5298 forum posts
13 photos

Rather than "Drill and Countersink", if possible I would drill and tap the jaws so that the retaining bolts are outside the area used for clamping.

This is how the jaws are secured to the Vertex K Series Vices.

To ensure that everything stays square, it might be worth clocking the vice so that it is aligned correctly, along the table, before fitting the jaws.

The take just a light skim with an End Mill so that the new gauge plate jaws sit on accurately aligned face, when is finally fitted.

Why "Finally fitted"? because once there is an accurately aligned face, it can be used as a datum to mill the new jaws to size, before fitting. You might have to be very gentle milling the ends of the jaws when they are clamped vertical, because of the flexibility of the metal protruding from the vice.

It is worth having the ends and top of the jaws truly horizontal and vertical, so that they can be used as a datum plane for setting later work. .

The top and bottom of the jaws will be easier, since they can be secured to the vice body for machining..

If you wanted to add a little complication, you mill a Vee slot (Horizontal and / or Vertical ) in the fixed jaw as an aid to gripping round work.

For this you might need to make up a temporary fixed jaw from mild steel for these operations.

HTH

Howard

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