Friday, January 6, 2012
Phase II Machine Vise With Swivel Base
I've put off buying a new one for some years now because I could not decide which I wanted. I knew I wanted one of the so called "lock down" variety, but a Kurt or Parlec was out of my price range. That left a foreign made knockoff. The problem is that not all are made the same. I also dithered over what size to purchase. What I had was best described as 3 1/2". That meant I could go with 4", 5" (there are a few of those out there) or a 6" vise.
To compound the problem, I had stumbled across a few internet horror stories about poor quality ranging from ground surfaces that weren't flat to weak and porous castings to fixed jaws breaking off the back of the vise. The websites selling such things as vices weren't much help either. They usually gave a sketchy description of their product, sometimes written in Engrish, with a single photo about the size of a postage stamp, and of poor resolution.
So, I bought a four inch Phase II with swivel base. Yeah, short and sweet. Here's why. After pouring over the available dimensions, I concluded a five or six inch vise was simply too big and heavy for me, and my little mill. That left a four inch vise, if I wanted to go larger than what I had. I settled on Phase II for two reasons. I have purchased other parts and tooling from Little Machine Shop in the past. They carry a three inch version of the Phase II vise. Everything I have purchased in the past from them has been of good to excellent quality for the price. If they felt that the Phase II vise was a good cost/quality compromise for hobbyists, then who was I to argue. I also considered that the Phase II rotary table and quick change tool post I had purchased earlier were, in my eyes, excellent products. I like them both, especially the rotary table, and have had zero problems with them.
So, a four inch Phase II machine vise with swivel base was ordered from Get Machine Tools.Com. Little Machine Shop didn't carry one that large, and GetMachineTools.COM is on the same side of the continent as I am. The vise was here in two days, standard ground.
I've published a few photos here, more that I was able to find elsewhere on the internet. Enjoy. As always, click to embiggen. My initial eyeball assessment of the vise is that it's well made. I know, that's not terribly critical of me. I've made a few measurements, and have to make more. The fixed jaw is square with the base, and all the surfaces one would expect to be ground, the bottom, the base, the jaws fixed and sliding, and jaw inserts are ground. Right out of the box, things were sort of stiff and bumpy, but cleaning and oiling cleared that up. For now, it's nice to have something that isn't fifty years old and full of holes. The size is right for my Clausing mill. Anything larger would have been a mistake. The vise can be used with or without the base, of course. I will rarely use the base, but it never hurts to have it, especially that one time you need it.
I was taken aback by the handle that accompanied the vise. It's massive. The smaller handle is what fits the old Enco vise. It's always been sufficient for the amounts of torque I'm accustomed to using. Maybe that's because my hands and arms are huge and freakishly strong (kidding) or because I baby my old mill and tools(more likely). Anyway, a smaller handle that fits the vise better must be had. Cool, another project. I'll be back with more photos of the vise and base, and an opinion as to whether I've made a good investment or not later. For now, I'm going to use my new vise.
Update: Andy at Workshop Shed has asked in the comments about the vise's main screw collecting chips. For the most part it's covered by the threaded casting that carries the moving jaw forward against the workpiece. You can see this, and the underside of the moving jaw in the photo that accompanies this update. The angular projection on top of this threaded casting bears against the underside of the moving jaw, and carries it forward while forcing it down (hence lock down vise), once it meets resistance from the workpiece being clamped.
There is a hemispherical bearing that barely shows in the photo.It's inside the moving jaw and it allows for some some jaw misalignment to accommodate a odd shaped workpiece, and bears against the angled projection on the threaded carrier.
Posted by Smitty at 10:56 AM