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Bearing Ball with Flat for Vise work...?

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EmilioG

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#1
Has anyone tried using the ball bearing with the ground flat on it to hold rough saw stock in a vise?
I just read a machining tip where (it's also in a book), where you take a .750 or 1.00" bearing ball and grind a
flat on it. I've always used a piece of soft aluminum wire. Other's use wood, cylinders of brass, etc...
I'd like to try this. Of course, I would use a piece of brass to protect the flat against the vise jaw.
 

Ulma Doctor

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#2
i have used bearings without a flat to secure oddly shaped parts in vises with great success.
a flat would make a lot more surface area to clamp against.
 

Rustrp

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#3
Has anyone tried using the ball bearing with the ground flat on it to hold rough saw stock in a vise?
I just read a machining tip where (it's also in a book), where you take a .750 or 1.00" bearing ball and grind a
flat on it. I've always used a piece of soft aluminum wire. Other's use wood, cylinders of brass, etc...
I'd like to try this. Of course, I would use a piece of brass to protect the flat against the vise jaw.
I haven't but I was watching a video a few days ago and they were also using a piece of round stock. I just haven't had the occasion since then to use it. Now I need to go find it to get the technical aspect down.
 

Rustrp

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#4
i have used bearings without a flat to secure oddly shaped parts in vises with great success.
a flat would make a lot more surface area to clamp against.
That was the use I was trying to remember, uneven surfaces.
 

darkzero

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#5
It's a good idea & I've seen a number of people using it, there was even one YT'r selling sets that he called Screwyballs.

I don't like how the ball puts an indention on the work piece though. I just use a small dia alum rod. The balls can be cumbersome to setup also if the ball is not that big or if you have fat fingers.

I have one of those Quadrallel things that are sold on ebay. I was going to make one but one day for some reason I threw a bid on one. It never showed up & I was glad cause I didn't want it anymore. I started the return process & it turns out there was some crazy storm where the seller was & they lost power for a while. I verified they were telling the truth, I felt bad & decided to keep it.

Come think about it's not too expensive for what it is & how it's made, hardened, ground, black oxide, etc. Plus it's made in the USA & I'm happy to support the small toolmakers. I haven't even taken it out of the box yet.

Pretty cool though, check em out, shouldn't be hard to make.
 

Bob Korves

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#6
All the aids mentioned do about the same thing if used correctly. They allow clamping rough, uneven and/or not parallel work between rigidly parallel vise jaws. All of the ideas listed will work OK, some better or worse in specific applications. Soft, cylindrical, spherical, or combinations of those will work. Having more than one choice is best. I also use the pulled pins from Pop rivets, steel and aluminum.
 

mikey

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#7
I use either a BB or aluminum round to square a piece in the vice. The BB is a 3/4" Stainless ball with a flat ground on one side; it goes against the moveable jaw (no shim to protect the jaw) and the round side touches the work. This works well but will leave a small dent on the work. If the work is large and the BB won't fit, I use an aluminum round rod about 3/8" OD X 6" long instead; this does not dent the work. Both work very well.
 

darkzero

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#8
Ok, I just took it out the box. I take it back, it's not ground. It's made for 6" vises so on my 5" vise it sits above the vise jaws slightly. One day I'll take it apart & mill it down so it sits below my jaws. Pretty cool idea but I definitely could live without it especially for the price it sells for. Oh well. I'll keep using the alumn rod that I've always been using.

 

Billh50

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#9
I have been using a ball in vise jaw on uneven sawn parts for years.It allows the surface against the solid jaw to sit as flat as possible. Of course only light cuts are recommended. But it does allow the vise to hold more than 1 spot against the solid jaw. I find the ball works better than a rod.
 

BGHansen

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#10
Made a clamp similar to Darkzero's post above years ago. I'll have to dig through the drawers to find it, made it for one project. I used a couple of pieces of 3/8" thick x 1 1/2" tall by 3" long pieces of cold rolled. Plunged a 3/4" ball end mill into each about an 1/8" deep. Drilled/tapped a couple of holes on either end of one plate for a couple of guide pins, milled corresponding slots in the other end. Put a 3/4" ball bearing in the two divots for a pivot. It worked pretty well but do recall making passes to "drive the wedge" of the cutting forces into the small end of the taper. I was worried about machining toward the large end of the tapered wedge and driving the wedge out of the vise jaws.

Bruce
 

DSaul

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#11
I made this, from some 2" aluminum round bar , to hold tapered tubes for bicycle frame building, but you could use one half to clamp any uneven material in the vise. The V-groove is obviously not necessary for clamping flat objects.
IMG_20160616_125619.jpg IMG_20160616_125957 (1).jpg
 
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chips&more

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#12
Ok, I just took it out the box. I take it back, it's not ground. It's made for 6" vises so on my 5" vise it sits above the vise jaws slightly. One day I'll take it apart & mill it down so it sits below my jaws. Pretty cool idea but I definitely could live without it especially for the price it sells for. Oh well. I'll keep using the alumn rod that I've always been using.

Aren’t those springs? In your pic, they look like screws? I have seen that thing for a while now. Always wondered about using it on a really angled project. And having the project squirt out of the vise. I’m like you and use the round aluminum rod. Using a steel bearing ball is OK I guess. But I would be concerned about the divot/dent it can leave in your work and or jaw…Dave
 

woodchucker

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#13
I made this, from some 2" aluminum round bar , to hold tapered tubes for bicycle frame building, but you could use one half to clamp any uneven material in the vise. The V-groove is obviously not necessary for clamping flat objects.
View attachment 230776 View attachment 230777
I like that, but question, does it hold steady, being that it is round. Whenever I clamp round I wind up using a V block to steady it.
 

DSaul

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#14
I like that, but question, does it hold steady, being that it is round. Whenever I clamp round I wind up using a V block to steady it.
It has worked well for me, but I haven't tried any heavy milling with it. I just use it to hold the tube for slotting or coping the end with a hole saw. Another framebuilder makes a set of blocks that has one flat v-block and the other round, but that forces the tube to be angled with respect to the vise jaw.
 

EmilioG

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#15
Awesome. I've seen ThatLazyMachinist use brass cylinders. Maybe putting a small flat on the cylinders may also work?
It's said that the ball bearings do indent the work, so maybe I'll try brass or bronze (if I can find bronze spheres).
In any case, the final result should be a nice square piece if work. The ScrewyBall set is sold out on Ebay. The set came in a fancy wooden box, 3 sizes. McMasters sells low carbon bearing balls that they say are machinable.

If you don't want your work indented, couldn't you put a piece of square brass shim on the work? or will this affect "squareness" on the vise?


How are these very hard BB's flat ground ? I don't have a surface grinder and I would like the flat to be, well....flat.
 
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chips&more

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#16
There are many ways to hold your part/project. Yes, the vise is usually the first that comes to mind. But, think outside the box or the use of a vise. Do a workaround. I usually sleep on it and then come up with a better, faster, nicer and more accurate way. Works for me…Dave
 

EmilioG

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#17
I'm not worried about holding, I have clamps for rounds or balls. What kind of abrasive on Rockwell C60 bearing balls?
I don't have a surface grinder?
 

Rustrp

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#18
How are these very hard BB's flat ground ? I don't have a surface grinder and I would like the flat to be, well....flat.
I'm pretty sure your fingertips to elbow, along with the grinding device needs to be calibrated.:D

I think since we are holding a part that's uneven, just gripping the BB and holding it against a belt sander or flat sanding/grinding disc will produce the flat needed.
 

mikey

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#19
It's said that the ball bearings do indent the work, so maybe I'll try brass or bronze (if I can find bronze spheres).

... If you don't want your work indented, couldn't you put a piece of square brass shim on the work? or will this affect "squareness" on the vise?

... How are these very hard BB's flat ground ? I don't have a surface grinder and I would like the flat to be, well....flat.
The dent is just a consequence of applying thousands of pounds of pressure at a single point. If you use a ball, you are going to have a dent in the work. This dent is cut off when you square the face it's touching anyway so no big deal. On my little 4" Kurt vise, just 30# of clamping force (not much at the end of the handle) results in over 4,000# of force applied between the jaws - a dent will happen!

The flat can be ground on a belt sander and it is important if using a ball bearing. If you don't grind the flat you WILL dent your jaw face.

The balls that I have are very hard and trying to hold a little 3/4" ball in your fingers while trying to grind a flat on a running belt is ... interesting. If you like, you can make a simple holder. Find a piece of tubing or round rod and chamfer the inside of one end and just set the ball in it. Use the tubing/rod as a handle to push the ball into the grinding surface. Just grind the flat and turn the machine off before removing pressure on the ball. Voila - a ground flat and no meat lost.

The ball is useful when all the surfaces you're trying to square are rough and/or irregular. It allows the greatest amount of rotation to bring as much surface area into contact with the fixed jaw of the vise; that's all it does. If you're squaring stock with nominal square faces, such as square or rectangular stock, a round rod is more than adequate for the job and will not dent the work piece. It is wise to use aluminum for this rod; brass or steel is hard and may dent the work or the vise jaw. I suggest you NOT use wire for this; it is too small and soft and will likely be flattened against the work and there goes your round pivot.
 

Ulma Doctor

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#20
i also like using aluminum tig rod drops to provide the roller function
 

Rustrp

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#21
i also like using aluminum tig rod drops to provide the roller function
I'm laughing at me. I'm still thinking ball bearing and wondering how does he get a tig aluminum drop (ball) that large. I call them stubs. :D You could stand an aluminum rod vertical and melt a good sized ball on the end, and then end up with something to hold it in place with. Finding a decent J-hook with a ball end is difficult so I make my own. I can get a decent shaped 3/8" ball on the end of a piece of 1/4" stainless round.
 

Bob Korves

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#22
There are many ways to hold your part/project. Yes, the vise is usually the first that comes to mind. But, think outside the box or the use of a vise. Do a workaround. I usually sleep on it and then come up with a better, faster, nicer and more accurate way. Works for me…Dave
Why do milling machines have those looong tables if you are only supposed to use the few inches the vise sits on? Let me say it again, think outside the box! My vise is off the mill a lot.
 
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#23
I have several strips of plummers lead that I'll place between the work and the jaw when holding uneven saw surfaces. It squishes enough to hold the part in place to get a good cut for the next operation. When the lead gets too thin, just fold over and go at it again.
 

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#24
Has anyone tried using the ball bearing with the ground flat on it to hold rough saw stock in a vise?...Of course, I would use a piece of brass to protect the flat against the vise jaw.
I've used such a flatted ball for press work (carbides into hard steel
tapers), where the parallelism of a 50 ton press's piston face and
table was not necessarily good enough.
A half inch aluminum pushblock took a nice spherical dent,
nearly mirror-polished. The ball against the dent was a 'knuckle' that would
allow some minor nonparallelism. It worked out well for me.

For a vise, two aluminum dented cauls would be good, and no need to
grind a flat on the BB. That's assuming you have ten or twenty tons
of press to make the dents with...
 
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Kernbigo

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#25
This is what i use, but for the life of me i can't remember what i salvaged them off of when i worked in the shop
 

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#26

TakeDeadAim

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#27
I have used both ball bearings with a flat, I have a set of them, as well as dowel pins to help hold uneven pieces and to square blocks prior to making parts. This is a simple solution to a common problem. Some of the job specific tools shown above are, I suppose, a step above the improvised method of the dowel pins. The ball bearings I have were made specifically for this purpose.
 

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#28
A piece of stock with a hole bored into it smaller than the diameter of the ball bearing would work if you do not want to flatten the ball bearing. Another option is to press fit it into a relieved bore in some metal stock.

Ken
 

Millalot

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#29
Using a 3/4" ball bearing works well. I just clamped the ball in a vice and ground a flat with an angle grinder. using it with the mill vice every thing centralises automaticly when you clamp up. I just squared up a V block from a flame cut piece of steel and the ball clamp method worked great, not to concerned about a dink in the surface.
 

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#30
Awesome. I've seen ThatLazyMachinist use brass cylinders. Maybe putting a small flat on the cylinders may also work?
It's said that the ball bearings do indent the work, so maybe I'll try brass or bronze (if I can find bronze spheres).
In any case, the final result should be a nice square piece if work. The ScrewyBall set is sold out on Ebay. The set came in a fancy wooden box, 3 sizes. McMasters sells low carbon bearing balls that they say are machinable.

If you don't want your work indented, couldn't you put a piece of square brass shim on the work? or will this affect "squareness" on the vise?


How are these very hard BB's flat ground ? I don't have a surface grinder and I would like the flat to be, well....flat.
I was trying to drill a ball bearing a little while ago. Big mistake. Those things are as hard as granite, normally. Drill bits and and mills are ruined very quickly if you press them into the ball bearing. Unless.... I held a ball bearing in some old pliers and heated the thing up with a propane torch until it was red hot and non-magnetic. I'm then I left it sitting on the anvil part of the vise for an hour or so. Then I simply chucked it in the three jaw and faced a flat on it with a HSS tool. Couldn't have been easier. I haven't bothered to harden it again, but if I were to heat it up and drop it in oil or water I'm sure it would go back to being very hard again. The heating process causes the ball to go black, but that can be polished with some Scotch Brite, if you care about that. I didn't do that either.

In this video you can see a clever way to hold spheres more safely than just chucking it up.
.
 
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