Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Busy Bee's 4" Angle Vise No. B1722

It's quite the hunk of iron and steel for $69.99. ($65.00 when on special.)

The dovetailed tilt ways are nicely ground -- the tilt feature works smoothly and without slop. There is one flaw in the vise, though; the parallelism of the jaws is poor.

The photo below doesn't show it well, but the jaws don't meet parallel to one another.

In the photo above, the right sides of the jaws have met, while the left sides are still slightly apart. It's impossible to get a secure, uniform grip from the jaws while that is the case.

I came up with a quick-and-dirty solution to the problem that, while not perfect, serves to make the vise as good as it's ever likely to get -- I added a shim washer to the left side of the moveable jaw's face.

To make the modification, you have to remove the moveable jaw's face. Use an impact driver with a No. 3 Phillips bit to dislodge the screws holding the jaw face in place. (I almost reamed out a screw recess before turning to my impact driver for the job.).

With the aid of a chassis punch, make a shim washer from some 0.019" thick sheet metal.[1] The shim washer goes to the loose side of the jaw face, like so.

Reattach the jaw face to the moveable jaw with the shim washer in place, tighten the fastening screws very firmly and you're done. The jaws will meet parallel to one another.

As I mentioned earlier, this is not a perfect solution -- the shimmed jaw face now lacks rigidity because it's no longer directly backed by its jaw all the way across. However, the much improved parallelism makes the vise useable for most purposes.

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Update -- WEDNESDAY,  DECEMBER 28, 2016

That void in behind the moveable jaw face was bothering me, so I removed the jaw face, slathered it with five-minute epoxy and reinstalled it. The outcome looks good. The jaw face is now fully backed by incompressible material across its full width. The vise is as solid and true as if it had been made correctly in the first place.

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Lee Valley's Version -- SUNDAY, JANUARY 8, 2017

I've noticed that Lee Valley carries a 3" version of the identical vise. The one that I saw out in their showroom had the same defect that the Busy Bee 4" vise has -- the jaws aren't perfectly parallel to one another as they ought to be. The defect didn't appear to be as severe on the Lee Valley vise as on the Busy Bee vise, but it's probably still bad enough to make the vise only marginally fit for use in some situations. The same fix as outlined above would apply.

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Degrees Tilt Scale Accuracy

It's within about half a degree. Here's how the scale indication looks with the tilt zeroed to the base by means of a digital level box.

That's adequate accuracy for things like toy making, which was my reason for getting the vise at first.

For more critical applications, a digital level box is helpful for adjusting tilt angle with respect to the vise's base. Here's a view of such an arrangement at work to zero the tilting portion of the vise to its base.

The Tilt Angle Clamp Screw

This item can be a bit of a nuisance -- the sliding crank-bar can move into a position where it props the vise up off the surface that the vise is sitting on, like so.

An obvious fix for that is to replace the crank-bar-headed clamp screw with an ordinary hex-headed screw, like so.

A 3/8"-16 x 1 1/2" long screw fills the bill.

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[1] The shim thickness needed may vary. Gauge your unit with a feeler gauge to determine what shim thickness is needed to bring about jaw parallelism.

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