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THE ENGINEERS VICE / FITTERS VICE
(SOMETIMES CALLED THE MECHANIC’S VICE)
V.Ryan © 2019
 
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An Engineers vice / Fitters vice, is a basic and yet very important piece of equipment. There are a variety of versions, the one below being the ‘plain’ version. The main body is manufactured from cast iron or steel, with the cast iron version being cheaper. The size of the vice is determined by the distance across the jaw (as seen on the front view below) and not the distance between the open jaws,

 

 
 
 
  The jaws of the vice are hardened steel, to reduce wear and tear from every day use. Jaws are held in position by two countersunk machine screws. The jaws shown here, are patterned / serrated to add grip, although smooth jaws can be purchased. The type of jaws fitted to the vice, is determined by the type of work being carried out.
 
  If the serrated jaws are fitted to a vice, a quick way of protecting the materials to be held between them, is by placing vice fibre grips over the jaws. These are supplied in pairs, one for each jaw and they prevent the material being marked / damaged by the serrated pattern, machined into the steel jaws. Some vice grips are manufactured from a soft metal such as aluminium (which can be manufactured easily in a workshop). Up to the 1960s, some vice grips were manufactured from lead. Lead is no longer used, as it is regarded as poisonous.
 
To apply pressure between the jaws of the engineer’s vice, simply turn the handle / tommy bar rotating the thread inside the vice, through an internal nut. Never over tighten standard engineer’s vice, by either hitting the handle with a mallet, or by applying too much hand pressure. This can damage the vice. Also, at the end of the working day, untighten the handle a couple of turns. The reason for this, is that it releases pressure on the thread and nut. Also, during cold nights, the temperature will drop, causing the steel thread and the vice body to contract, which can damage the vice and even break it.
 
 
 
  The engineers vice shown opposite, has a scale that allows for the main body to be set at an angle. Its correct name is an Engineers Swivel Vice. The adjusting nuts are loosened and the body is ‘swivelled’ to the required angle. The nuts are then tightened, locking the vice at its new angle.
 
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