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4" vise - help choosing the right one

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matthewsx

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So, I'm at the point where my CNC mill/drill project is just about ready to start making actual parts and I think I need to buy a 4" milling vise to replace the hardware store drill press vise I've been using to test. My table is flat cast aluminum and I have some more cast pieces that I think will eventually be drilled and tapped for sacrificial workholding fixtures which I'll use with hex clamps but I know I'll want a decent vise for quick set-ups.

Looking at Shars think I've ruled out the $150 model so I'm down to the $250 "CNC" vise

https://www.shars.com/products/workholding/vise/4-440v-cnc-milling-machine-vise-0-0004-1

or this one for $75


While I'd like to just buy the more expensive one my budget tells me to go with the cheapie. I figure it will be a while still before I'm likely to be splitting tenths with this machine if ever, and "good enough" will be just fine until then. I already have a China built 6" HF vise I've never put on a machine but it seems like it would work if it was just a little smaller. The $250 vise from Shars has a wider jaw opening but I don't see that as a major limitation for my use and probably not worth the extra $175 in itself.

Thoughts?

BTW, here's the machine as it sits now.

mill1.jpeg

Thanks,

John
 
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macardoso

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I've used this one since I got my machine and I have been very happy with it.


Don't go too big. You don't have a ton of Z travel there.
 

matthewsx

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I've used this one since I got my machine and I have been very happy with it.


Don't go too big. You don't have a ton of Z travel there.
That's exactly the one I decided I didn't want... Is there a reason you prefer it to one of the others, or just what you have?

I'm actually leaning towards the 3" model since I have other plans for larger pieces.

RJ, would love to hear your thoughts. Even if they're snarky;)

John
 

Mitch Alsup

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I have this vise::
on my mill.
I have made hundreds and hundreds of accurate parts with this vise.
However, If I had it all to do over again I would get a Kurt in the 4" to 5" range.
 

macardoso

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That's exactly the one I decided I didn't want... Is there a reason you prefer it to one of the others, or just what you have?
I bought it 5 years ago because it was fairly inexpensive ($105 I think) and could be mounted on its side (which I have done many times) since it doesn't have any flanges sticking out. Pretty sure that's why they call it a CNC vise. Shars sells soft jaws for it ranging from $8-15 per pair depending on the size. It seems very accurate and I have the jaw adjusted for minimum lift.

I don't think it is the best on the market, but it is inexpensive and worked for me.

I have a G0704 BTW and this is absolutely the biggest vise I would put on the table.
 

matthewsx

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I have this vise::
on my mill.
I have made hundreds and hundreds of accurate parts with this vise.
However, If I had it all to do over again I would get a Kurt in the 4" to 5" range.
Thanks, that looks pretty much like the Shars vise I'm looking at.

John
 

matthewsx

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I bought it 5 years ago because it was fairly inexpensive ($105 I think) and could be mounted on its side (which I have done many times) since it doesn't have any flanges sticking out. Pretty sure that's why they call it a CNC vise. Shars sells soft jaws for it ranging from $8-15 per pair depending on the size. It seems very accurate and I have the jaw adjusted for minimum lift.

I don't think it is the best on the market, but it is inexpensive and worked for me.

I have a G0704 BTW and this is absolutely the biggest vise I would put on the table.
Thanks, your table is about as deep as mine so that helps visualize it size wise.

My spindle doesn't tilt and I figure I'll be using sacrificial plates for any fancy set-ups so not sure why I would need to mount a vise on it's side.

Probably going with the 3" version for less overhang on the table.

John
 

macardoso

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My spindle doesn't tilt and I figure I'll be using sacrificial plates for any fancy set-ups so not sure why I would need to mount a vise on it's side.
I've done this for doing end machining on thin round parts or anything that is too tall for me to work on if it is sitting on top of 2" of vise. I have 10 inches of Z travel, so a 6" tall part + 2" of vise + 2" of tool gives me no room to work. Flip the vise on its side, lay the part directly on the table and clamp from the side, now I have 2" of clearance.

Just found it helpful for getting me out of tricky setups.
 

matthewsx

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I've done this for doing end machining on thin round parts or anything that is too tall for me to work on if it is sitting on top of 2" of vise. I have 10 inches of Z travel, so a 6" tall part + 2" of vise + 2" of tool gives me no room to work. Flip the vise on its side, lay the part directly on the table and clamp from the side, now I have 2" of clearance.

Just found it helpful for getting me out of tricky setups.
That makes sense, I have a lathe and am planning some pretty flexible sacrificial table tooling for this machine so I think I'm okay with the mounting ears.

John
 

RJSakowski

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That's exactly the one I decided I didn't want... Is there a reason you prefer it to one of the others, or just what you have?

I'm actually leaning towards the 3" model since I have other plans for larger pieces.

RJ, would love to hear your thoughts. Even if they're snarky;)

John
I deleted my comment that a CNC mill doesn't need a swivel base as you have already realized that. When I bought my Tormach, I bought this vise: https://www.grizzly.com/products/Grizzly-Premium-Milling-Vise-4-/G7156
It has worked out OK for me but I have made some improvements so not a solid thumbs up. I replaced the screw collar with a more substantial collar to decrease backlash, I milled the mounting ear surfaces flat to prevent walking when I tightened the mounting bolts, and I polished the ball and ramp for more positive hold down.

From the size of your mill, I would recommend against getting a larger vise. It is tempting but a large vise actually reduces your positioning capability. The most common mounting of the vise is with the screw oriented in the y direction. My vise measures 2.5" from the front of the back jaw to the back of the vise. Your distance of your spindle to the column less the distance from the front of the back jaw to the back of the vise is greatest -y position you can reach. The greatest plus y position is determined by the where you mount the vise but ideally you would mount it so the spindle can reach further than the vise jaws. In my case, between the two, I lose about 1-3/4" of useful travel on my y axis.

Aside from size, there are issues like how parallel is the base of the vise to the floor of the vise jaws and how perpendicular is the fixed jaw to the floor of the vise jaws. Of the three that you are looking at, the two lower cost specs aren't that great. The highest cost vise is ambiguous in that a meaningful spec for parallelness or perpendicularity would give the distance over which the specification is valid, e.g. .0005"/4".
 

matthewsx

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Thanks RJ, that's the kind of info I was looking for. It's good to know that these vises can be improved upon with a little work, I'm sure it will be miles better than the DP vise I have right now.

Think I'm gonna pull the trigger on the 3" model.

Cheers,

john
 

mattthemuppet2

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I like my basic 4" Shars lockdown vise (no swivel base). Took a degree of fettling to get it working really nice, but it was functional out of the box. I stoned all the edges, cleaned up the rough of the lockdown parts, shimmed the moving jaw a little bit to get rid of side to side play and tapped the base for longer fixed jaw hold down bolts. The fixed jaw does still move a little bit when the vise is tightened, but it's only noticeable with thin stuff high on parallels - judicious use of a dead blow hammer solves that issue.

I think it's a good vise, opens really wide, has an oiling port and thrust washer on the screw and seems to be dimensionally on the money as far as I can tell. I wouldn't say no to a 4" Kurt, but until one of those falls into my lap for a price I can afford I think this will do just fine. I will be making a speed handle for it sometime soon though as the one that comes standard is always interfering with the Y hand wheel.
 

stioc

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Mine came with a 4" swivel base one like RJ posted but I removed the swivel base from it.

I've often wondered about using a pair of 3" inch tool maker vises - like the one Stefan Gottenwinter has even on his big mill. With two you can clamp long pieces on both ends. Many CNC machines use the two or three vise setup. Just a thought.
 

matthewsx

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I'll be using something like this

s-l1600.jpg

with hex fixture clamps

fixtur_clamp_header1.jpg

for serious setups.

I have several pieces of cast aluminum to work with and am learning how to make my own eccentric clamping devices. The vise is for simple/quick one off stuff.

John
 

RobertB

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I milled the mounting ear surfaces flat to prevent walking when I tightened the mounting bolts
This is a problem with most sub-$300.00 vises. Not only are the tops of these flanges rough raw castings, but they also have the pattern draft angle to them. If you don't mill them flat it is a real adventure trying to tighten the hold downs!
 

mickri

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I have the shars 4" vise. I bought it on sale for I believe $99 and it came with rotary base which I don't use. I have not had any problems with it. But then I am new to machining as a hobby. The vise is light years better than the HF drill press vise I was using. It fits nice on the table of my mill/drill. Not too big and not too small.
 

stioc

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Oh yeah, there's no comparison between a cheap drill press vise vs. a milling vise. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised when you get one!
 

ChrisAttebery

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I've been using the 4" x 3.93" vise from CDCO. It was even cheaper than Shars when I bought it 7 years ago. These cheap import vises get the job done for light production. I've made many times over what I put into my G0704 conversion.

Over the years I have purchased several sets of 4" soft jaws from Monster Jaws that are supposed to fit the Kurt vises. They work just fine with the import vise.

Looking at the size of your machine I think the 3" version would probably be a better fit.
 

mikey

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John, have you considered a screwless vise? Even the cheaper Chinese versions are more accurate and potentially more rigid than a standard milling vise. They tend to be smaller than milling vises so you might get away with a 4" screwless vise instead of a 3" milling vise. They are a tiny bit slower to use but not much, and I really like that they pull the work down as part of their design. I own 4 of these things in various sizes and I think they are overlooked as a really good work holding option.

I have a really nice little 2" Wilton precision screwless vise, bought back when Wilton actually made these things (now made in India) and it is very accurate on all sides. I pull it out when I have to do close tolerance work. If I were going to buy one of these things today, I would go for a Taiwan-made Vertex.
 

matthewsx

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John, have you considered a screwless vise? Even the cheaper Chinese versions are more accurate and potentially more rigid than a standard milling vise. They tend to be smaller than milling vises so you might get away with a 4" screwless vise instead of a 3" milling vise. They are a tiny bit slower to use but not much, and I really like that they pull the work down as part of their design. I own 4 of these things in various sizes and I think they are overlooked as a really good work holding option.

I have a really nice little 2" Wilton precision screwless vise, bought back when Wilton actually made these things (now made in India) and it is very accurate on all sides. I pull it out when I have to do close tolerance work. If I were going to buy one of these things today, I would go for a Taiwan-made Vertex.
I've been looking at them but would want a good one.
It would be useful on my universal tool cutter & grinder for surface grinding set-ups as well.

Thanks for the heads up on Vertex:)

John
 
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