Milling vice stop for non grooved vice jaws

Another Job Ticked Off

There are a number of lower cost CNC milling vices (vises) available on the market that do not have jaw geometry with grooves for tooling fixtures and vice stops.   Admittedly their jaws could be machined to add this facility but many of these vices have hardened jaws which presents more of a problem.

My CNC vice came from the UK supplier ARCeurotrade and is from their ARC Versatile SG Iron Milling Vices range.   I have the 100mm wide jaw version and the jaws are  just over 11mm (7/16″) thick.

I have a simple plate that acts as a stop  that is flush with the end of the jaws.  This makes use of existing holes in the vice body but often I need to have a stop internal to the jaw footprint.  Juggling then results with all manner of Heath Robinson solutions.

My design is simple and clamps onto the thickness of the jaws.   

There are two M3 clamping screws and there is enough adjustment on these to allow a parallel to also be gripped should it be needed.

CNC vice stop showing clamping onto the vice jaw and also when used with a parallel
CNC vice stop showing clamping onto the vice jaw and also when used with a parallel

I allowed for two positions for the stop rod and the rod is held with a grub screw in each.   There is a central burr clearance neck on the rod so the grub screw does not damage the surface of the rod and make removal difficult.  Clearly the rod could be simplified to have just a single fixed position.

The rod can have rounded ends or it can have ball bearings glued into a cavity on each end of the rod.   The ball bearings would give a higher resilience to damage.

So nothing really complicated or rocket science with just an hour or so of workshop pleasure.   The size can be adjusted to suit your vice jaws and the material can be whatever is in the junk box.

Here is a link to the 2D drawings that were created in Fusion 360.

CNC vice stop Drawing v3

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Enclosure finally added to my Tormach PCNC440

Reduction in Sparkly Bits around the House

When I bought my Tormach PCNC440 in 2016 I included the enclosure kit in my order.   On receipt I thought that fitting the enclosure would dominate the size of the workshop so I never got round to fitting it.   It has sat in its shipping box since then.  I have consequently shared quite a bit of my swarf (chips) with long suffering family.

After a recent (particularly heavy) CNC run I had a serious covering of swarf in the machine tray and because I had no enclosure round the mill, I had quite a lot distributed further afield (i.e. into the house).   Domestic peace was becoming an issue. Time to do something about it. 

Out came the enclosure kit, cobwebs dusted off and around three hours later I had the enclosure fitted.  I have to say it looks good and does not overpower the workshop as I thought it would.   My wife is impressed and says it looks a more professional machine and ‘if you had it why didn’t you fit it before now’ ? 

My Tormach PCNC440 with its enclosure fitted
The picture above shows the enclosure mounted on my PCNC440 with the monitor in the original position before fitting the extension arm to the ISO bracket. The keyboard tray uses a domestic drawer rail mounted on the top of the standard Tormach cabinet. My recently fitted dual fogbuster system and my Hall Effect based tool height setter (yellow top) are visible.

The fitting did however create some follow up problems.   

My control monitor had up to now been mounted on the side of the 440 on a standard ISO TV mount.  With the enclosure fitted this meant it was ’round the side’ and difficult to get to.   I debated a new long reach ISO but they are expensive.  Plan B was to make something. I rummaged around in my aluminium stock and with the help of Fusion 360 came up with a seriously overengineered extension arm to add to the existing ISO mount. This would allow the monitor to move forward to be in reach at the front of the mill. 

ISO bracket extension on Tormach PCNC440
My seriously over engineered extension bracket to move the ISO mounting of the monitor more to the front of the 440

This bracket became the first CNC job to run after fitting the enclosure.   I am pleased to say it was the cleanest my workshop floor had ever been after running a job.

Having fitted the new bracket and mounted the monitor, all the cables needed extending.  Fortunately I had had the foresight on my original order to include the extension cable kit.   As a result I only had to extend the power supply lead from the monitor 12V ‘brick’ supply.

The second issue was where to mount my ITTP probe as this had formerly mounted on the side of the 440.   With help of some more Fusion design I modelled a corner mount that picked up on the enclosure fastenings.

After that first heavy machining run I noticed for the first time the slight smell of the mist coolant when opening the enclosure doors.   Before the enclosure was fitted the smell must have dispersed into the general workshop air.   With the enclosure fitted the air was concentrated inside the mill and I only got the smell when sticking my head inside.  While it had never been a problem (as far as I can tell …) I thought I should do something about it.

Sometime ago I installed a ceiling extract duct in the workshop.   This vents to the outside world via a custom roof tile. Normally the system sits with a flared cowling (made from a cut down flower pot) on the ceiling entry duct.  The system normally acts as a background trickle extract.   The cunning plan in the design was to use various pipe components to provide bayonet style connection pins (Nylon screws) to allow extension trunking to be used.   A bit like a BNC RF connector if this is familiar to you.   This would allow me to use an add-on length of expanding flexi trunking to bring the extract nearer to any heavy fumy activity such as welding or oil bath hardening.

With the use of further scrap odds and ends of aluminium, I mounted a pair of support bars across the top of the new 440 enclosure. These would fix the ducting over the enclosure during heaving CNC sessions.   Not a total solution but certainly one that will reduce the general smell of XtremeCut 250C when I stick my head in the enclosure.

Workshop extract system
Extract system showing ceiling mounting intake, trunking adapter and mounting on my Tormach PCNC440.  Note the two Nylon screw protrusions are for a bench mounting clamp when used for welding extraction etc and now used on this new use of the system on the mill.

A good day’s activity with all the issues addressed and domestic bliss hopefully restored.

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Repairs to an ancient Thwaites clock completed

I have mentioned my activity on the Thwaites clock in a couple of blog posts and I can now confirm the work is complete.

Thwaites clock as originally received prior to the work taking place
The Thwaites clock as received before work commenced

This has been an interesting challenge and I am pleased with how it has worked out.  Once again I am impressed by the way that modern techniques and technology can all play their part in achieving a result that once upon a time would have been impossible using traditional circumscribed knowledge.

There is a full write up here on the Thwaites Clock Activity for anyone interested.

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Fogbuster update prompted by Clough42 and other projects

Fogbusters Everywhere

Apart from working on the Thwaites clock parts, I have also done an upgrade to the mounting of my Fogbuster coolant nozzle installation on my Tormach 440.  This was triggered after viewing and being impressed by Clough42’s idea.   The Fogbuster is a great way to clear swarf and apply coolant.  The Fogbuster is normally supplied with a magnetic mounting arm but James’ modification uses LocLine gooseneck components to provide a much more flexible ‘aiming’ capability.

Something to be aware of – James recommends a download from GrabCAD for the 3D files of the two halves of the nozzle holder.   These had been uploaded by contributor Br BRB.  These were apparently publicly available via GrabCAD.  James slightly modified these and was offering them as a free download from his Thingiverse folder.  He has since had to remove them for download due to commercial issues.   BrBRB has also removed the original files from GrabCAD and is seeking to sell these as finished items.  I was lucky to have downloaded the files before the politics cropped up.  I  still have the downloads.

James also advocates fitting a second identical nozzle to the Fogbuster to avoid coolant and air shadowing.   I contacted Fogbuster in California and a very helpful lady called Rachel organised an upgrade kit to provide a second feed from my existing coolant reservoir. 

Dual Fogbuster coolant nozzles on Tormach PCNC440
Dual Fogbuster coolant nozzles on Tormach PCNC440 using Clough 42 flexible nozzle idea

It turned out Rachel was from Bristol UK so it is a small world and we had a good chat.   I have fitted both nozzles to the Tormach.  With a pressure of around 10 to 15 psi, the reservoir feeds both nozzles very well and is a huge improvement in use. 

As I was facing a shipping charge from the US I figured I might as well top up the package so I have also splashed out on a baby version of the Fogbuster to fit to my Myford lathe.  This uses the same idea but with slightly different mounting that fits into the T Slot on the Myford saddle.   I already had the 3D model of the T Slot strip from the ‘bits tray’ installation.

UPDATE : – I went to a Plan B on the lathe mounting – see later post

Baby Fogbuster mounted on Myford Super 7 saddle
Baby Fogbuster mounted on my Myford Super 7 saddle based on the Clough 42 flexi nozzle idea

Another pair of incremental asset improvements successfully installed.  I suppose I had better get on and make something now. 

Back to ‘the clock’ …

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Further 3D printed soft jaws for the Thwaites clock escape wheel

More use of 3D printed Soft Jaws

A few posts ago I talked about using 3D printed soft jaws for work holding in CNC operations.   This method does not replace conventional aluminium soft jaws where high accuracy machining operations are to take place.  Instead it is intended to allow second side ‘decking’ of what would have been excess stock on the material blank that had been used for work holding.

I am currently creating missing components for a Thwaites turret clock.  I had finished the pallets and I now moved onto the new escape wheel.   The design was created in Fusion 360 and integrated the pallets and the escape wheel together so the critical geometry was compatible.

The brass blank for the escape wheel was a 1/4″ brass block which I managed to hold tightly in the machine vice with a 1mm thickness of gripping stock.  (I don’t have Tallon grips or similar so I have to be generous).  I machined the wheel and was left with this 1mm to skim off the reverse side of the wheel.

I did not want the teeth on the new wheel to get damaged when gripped in the vice so the 3D printed soft jaw concept appealed.   The PLA would provide grip.   The teeth on the wheel could bite into the PLA without suffering any damage.

I had already created a single blank soft jaw In Fusion 360 for the previous pallet holding job.   This like it would be fine to accommodate the wheel dimensions.   I simply had to import two of these into the new soft jaw design (not forgetting to ‘Break the Link’ so the jaw models could be edited). I projected the wheel onto the soft jaw’s face and added a 0.2mm positive offset border.   I almost made the mistake of forgetting to invert the wheel as the soft jaw image must be a mirror of the Fusion top side view of the design to be gripped.

Fusion 360 view of the Thwaites wheel projected onto the PLA 3D printed soft jaws
Fusion 360 view of the Thwaites wheel projected onto the PLA 3D printed soft jaws.

The finished brass wheel did not accurately reflect the geometry of the Fusion design.  This is because the resolution of the tight corner CNC operations were limited to tool sizes.   I added fillets to all the ‘sharp’ edges in the soft jaw image to accommodate this.   I also had to do some tweaking of the inter jaw spacing 3D joint to reflect the wheel diameter and the amount of grip I judged might be needed.

Close up view of the fillet modifications to the sharp corners of the wheel outline
Close up view of the fillet modifications to the projected sharp corners of the wheel outline into the soft jaws.
Soft jaws and wheel ready to be skimmed
Soft jaws and the brass wheel ready to be skimmed.   The residual original square stock has been roughly trimmed around the wheel circumference.
The jaws were printed and I have to say were somewhat cosy tight around the wheel geometry.   When the jaws were mounted in the machine vice, the wheel was not going anywhere and the excess backing brass was skimmed off quickly and easily with no apparent movement of the wheel in the jaws.
Finished wheel mounted in the jaws after excess stock had been skimmed off
Finished wheel mounted in the jaws after the excess work holding stock had been skimmed off.
The finished escape wheel and pallets mounted in the Thwaites clock
The finished escape wheel and pallets mounted in the Thwaites clock

I am really warming to this technique.   It is quick and easy to implement and any mistakes can be quickly rectified with a new 3D print without having to remake aluminium versions.  I like it and recommend it.

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