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Low Profile Vice

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lellasone

Swarf
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Jan 4, 2017
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#1
Hi All,

I am setting up a small cnc router for my school's student shop. We are mostly planning to use it for engraving, but since it will likely get some general milling use with aluminum, I'd also like to get a vice of some kind. Since we are kind of low on z axis clearance (7" clearance, 4" z travel) finding something pretty short is a fairly high priority. Thus-far, I have come up with the following options. Ideally we'd like to spend around 50$, but anything other than 120$ is probably viable.
  • Small Screwless vice - these are a bit tall, but we could maybe put it in a pocket or something. [Something like this]
  • Drill Press vice - Definitely the right profile, but I've heard they are terrible. [Something like this]
  • Something custom - We'd rather not go this route because it means waiting for main-shop access.
In any case, we haven't really found a good solution yet, so I wanted to post on here and see how others have handled the issue.

All the best,
Jake
 

Groundhog

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#2
Iellasone,
I have a small cnc mill with similar z travel as yours.

I have a screwless vise and use it a lot. The only problem I have is that when I move the jaw from one notch to another the inside rod that fits into the notch wants to twist so that it is not fully engaged. That might just be my particular vise - I don't know. I don't think it would be a good vise for students (assuming the one you get has the same design problem as mine) as it takes a lot of feel and attention to get it right. Very easy to think you have the part clamped then the vice opens during milling.

I also tried a drill press vise. Terrible is being nice. Mine quickly got demoted to holding parts while grinding with a hand grinder.

What I use the most is a a very cheap Kurt looking vise. They come with a swivel base but I never use the base which keeps it pretty low. They are seemingly foolproof if you just whack the stock one time to make sure it is seated on the parrells. Shars has one on sale right now http://www.shars.com/products/toolh...ecision-milling-machine-vise-with-swivel-base. They are all over Ebay, Amazon, etc. They are not fine precision but good enough. And cheap enough to be abused until junk, then replaced.
 

Dave Paine

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#3
How about this one from Shars. They do not state the bed height, but it looks like it may be less than the 1 1/4in jaw depth. You may need to call them for the bed height.

Precision toolmakers vise at Shars
 

Boswell

Hobby Machinist since 2010
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#4
When I had my G0704 Mill with limited Z travel, I used vice very similar to the Shars mentioned above.
 

KMoffett

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#5
I have a screwless vise and use it a lot. The only problem I have is that when I move the jaw from one notch to another the inside rod that fits into the notch wants to twist so that it is not fully engaged.
Groundhog,

How about cutting a slot in the end of the rod, so you can use a screwdriver to position the rod as you reinstall the jaw?

Ken
 

spumco

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#6
If you flip it over, you'll see that the rod that engages the slots is probably too short and flops around, leading to the disconnection you mentioned.

Replace the rod with a ground dowel pin that's exactly the right length to fit in the pocket and it will stay centered and engaged.
 

Groundhog

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#7
Yeah, I use the hex wrench to align the rod. I just thought (as I said) that making sure the rod is in place might not happen in a school environment.

I made a replacement rod a long time ago. But I still made it too short!! Just too lazy to make another one.
 

lellasone

Swarf
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Jan 4, 2017
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#8
To provide a bit of closure to this thread, we wen't with the screw-less vise. Largely on the theory that anyone using the CNC would probably be capable of checking the vise. It's good to know that's a potential issue though, and if people start losing too many parts because of it we'll fabricate a new bar carrier.

Many thanks to everyone who replied.
 
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