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3 Way Vice?

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Jon Halland03/11/2021 14:17:03
23 forum posts
11 photos

I need a bigger vice for my now renovated Startrite Mercury drill, something like 100mm jaws and possible to clamp down. While looking I saw a 3 way vice from Axminster:

Chronos have one that looks near identical from Soba.

I like my tools to be flexible and they could be useful when drilling anything with right angles or T-connections. Does anyone have thoughts or experience with this type of vice?

Tony Pratt 103/11/2021 14:52:12
1936 forum posts
12 photos

My first thoughts are that it will be a bit unstable on it's side.


Clive Foster03/11/2021 15:44:36
3105 forum posts
107 photos

Theory might be good but in practice it's liable to drive you nuts trying to simultaneously line the job up with the drill and the fixing holes with the table. I'm not overly convinced of the general usefulness to the 3 way capability either. Tonys concerns about stability seem well founded.

I'd want to see, handle and play before plunking down money.

The alignment issue is why vices tend not to be used as much as they should be or merely hand held rather than bolted down. I'll 'fess up to always hand holding my Nippy vice until I upgraded drills to a big Pollard 15AY. I bolted a 6" cross vice fitted with vertical and horizontal Vee jaws on the table which has been pretty satisfactory for a couple of decades or so. I curse the screw backlash and sticky out handle on a regular basis but life is too short and the to-do list too long for active measures.

The float vice concept looks to have much to commend it from a practical point of view but I've never used one so cannot vouch for accuracy of claims. Plans can be found online. Looks to be a nice project.

As ever what works best depends what you do. Can't see that 3 way surviving much beyond a month in my shop before reaching escape velocity.


Dave Halford03/11/2021 17:40:12
2015 forum posts
23 photos

In vertical mode the handle ends up where the drill head is so it's not as clever as it sounds.

Howard Lewis03/11/2021 18:01:22
6040 forum posts
14 photos

Every time that you add another plane of movement, the rigidity is reduced.

My Vertex K4 is less rigid when mounted on the swivel base on the Mill.

My Soba 3 way 2" vice is useful, but not so rigid. There are three planes in which it can flex., and under anything other than moderate loads, it does!

On a Drilling Machine, You may well be better with a plain vice and an Angle Plate to which it could be bolted when you want drill at an angle to the previous drillings.

Do not be tempted to use the Drill for milling. Neither the Chuck nor the bearings are designed are designed for lateral loads, only vertical loads..

A co-ordinate table can be used for drilling, using co ordinates, but not for milling.


not done it yet03/11/2021 18:07:02
6749 forum posts
20 photos

I’m with Clive on the timescale before ‘outing’ if I did a lot of drilling with a pillar drill. Hence, I would not even consider one.

I have a couple of Arceuro type ll precision vises which could be used if I was wanting to turn a workpiece by 90 degrees. But my pillar drill is carp and would not benefit from ‘precision’ in any sense of the word.

I use a drill press for rough and ready drilling, not particularly precise work. The table on mine is rubbish, for a start. The quill is rubbish as a second consideration. Precision work falls to the Centec, mainly (unless small items which will fit on the Raglan).

I’ve had a couple of these types (but not three-way devices) of vise over the years and have never found them any better than a good clamp, or mole grip, in most situations.

I like my kit to be fit for what it was bought for. I find most things that are ‘multi-purpose’ fail, in one way or another, to live up to the supplier’s claims.

Michael Gilligan03/11/2021 20:09:43
20113 forum posts
1044 photos

So it looks like another great trade-name has been absorbed into general usage

J & S made the Unigrip Vice, which originally looked remarkably like the Nippy

… and then by ‘product development’ it started to look like this:


… which we are told was made by J & S as an OEM; to be ‘badge-engineered’ by others.

My original [Nippy-like] Unigrip is excellent, but I can’t comment about any of the developments or tributes.



Edit: __ for convenient reference, here’s an ebay listing for a secondhand NiPPY

Edited By Michael Gilligan on 03/11/2021 20:18:52

Jon Halland04/11/2021 13:58:55
23 forum posts
11 photos

Thank you for all your inputs. I take there is not a great deal of confidence in the 3 way style.

I had a look at the float lock vise (thanks Clive), which I had not seen before. Its like a toolmakers clamp for the vice and single plane move/loock. It seems very easy to position and lock, something that is as easy to use as just holding a vice by hand, so for ligther use.

My drilling is up to 12mm with std drills and step drills for sheet material.

Have anyone tried to combine the float lock with a normal drill press vice, it seem so simple?

Michael thanks for the nippy ebay link - I would like one. This one has been on ebay for some time....maybe is to do with the £200+pp price tag?

Nigel McBurney 104/11/2021 14:43:16
999 forum posts
3 photos

Where I first worked there was a nippy vise in constant use and it stood up well to such work,when I bought my Fobco I bought a nippy for home use and it is still good after 55 years use,if any one is looking for one they are sometimes for sale at auto jumbles and vintage bring and buy sales. The three way vice appears to have a very slim sliding jaw with very little sliding surface to keep it square. For heavy drilling on black iron fabrication jobs I have a Taylor rack vice which can be opened very wide and the jaws are mounted with angled mounting surfaces so that as the jaws are tightened the jaws move downwards pulling the work down thus improving the grip,the serrated jaws are ok on black iron but would mark machined work so a milling vice gets used on larger more precise work.

Oily Rag04/11/2021 14:46:29
540 forum posts
184 photos

The seller 'Nippynut' has one at £50 currently. Shows signs of some heavy corrosion on the jaw tops and has been cleaned / painted. No connection with the seller! The £200 vice does look to be in remarkable condition, as he claims it is NOS I can certainly believe it.


Sam Longley 104/11/2021 15:48:20
939 forum posts
34 photos
Posted by Clive Foster on 03/11/2021 15:44:36:

Theory might be good but in practice it's liable to drive you nuts trying to simultaneously line the job up with the drill and the fixing holes with the table.

My bench mounted Sealey Pillar drill has a round table that rotates & its mounting moves from side to side (the main post is round as well) as well as up & down It can also be tilted. So lining up is a breeze. My vice is permanently bolted to the table.

Bought it 35 years ago for £ 45-00

So not all tables are fixed

not done it yet04/11/2021 16:44:08
6749 forum posts
20 photos

My vice is permanently bolted to the table.

Don’t most people, for most jobs, align the drill with the central hole in the table?

How do you manage in and out adjustments?

Clive Foster04/11/2021 18:58:26
3105 forum posts
107 photos

I've seen it suggested that an effective and simple device for vice alignment can be made from two shallow right angle edged trays built up from modestly thick plate. I imagine selections from something between 1/4 and 3/4 alloy would work.

Assuming a rectilinear table the first U sits on top of the table with its arms projecting downward in line with the bolt down slots. Studs and suitable hand nuts aligned with the slots being fitted for securing. The vice is fixed to a second U sat on top of the first plate with the downwards arms running the other way along the plain sides of the lower plate. Slots and studs being provided to lock the two plates together when the work is aligned.

Clearly one plate lets the vice move in and out and the other from side to side. Fundamentally a crude approximation to a cross vice. Arguably more rigid when locked down and little harder to operate if things move smoothly.

Alternatively both U sections could be on the bottom plate. One set up and one set down with the vice on a simple flat plate. If the U shapes were made with narrow keeper strips on top to prevent lift this arrangement might well make hand holding safe and satisfactory for all but the heaviest of jobs. Having no locking studs should make for faster operation at the cost of ultimate security.

If you have a round table with radial Tee slots it would almost certainly be necessary to add a rectilinear top plate to make this scheme work. I can't see the Tee slots providing sufficient range of guided movement.

Whatever you do it has to be quick and easy for you to use. As ever the best approach is to find out how many different ways have been sucessful for different folk doing different jobs with different equipment and select the one that works best for and your work on your machine. Then fine tune it and tell everyone that you've got the perfect answer.

I imagine that, after 35 years, Sam has gotten really quick at the table movements needed to get his vice in just the right place. Moi, being a lazy toad, would have been looking for an easier way almost before getting the drill wired up in preference to settling down to learn how to make the table shifting way work!


Jeff Dayman04/11/2021 20:38:57
2223 forum posts
47 photos

Jon Halland- for the sort of jobs that Axminster offering could do, I usually just mount a second smaller mill vise in my main mill vise , at the required angle. Very stable, very good grip on the work.

FYI and just my opinion - I tossed my drill press style vises in the rubbish years ago. Even the best of them bent and let go at the worst possible moments, jaws wouldn't hold square, handle hurt my hands when tightening, and were hard to secure to the table without distortion. A mill vise or two are better in every way. Get the smaller one ground all over and it will be much easier to position in the other mill vise for compound ops.

for the second vises I like the Palmgren style ones, myself. Link below.

(FYI these used to cost less than half of the noted price.)

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