Recommendations: Machinist Parallels 1/8? or 1/32?

Sean Jones

Well-Known Member
After almost ruining another pair of bolsters because I can't support them properly in the vise, I need a set of parallels. Little Machine Shop has these and Amazon has these. I like the 1/32 ones but I'm a bit concerned about them being so thin.

Recommendations?

I don't have a mill (yet) so this is mostly for supporting items in my drill vise.

Thanks
 

jaxxas

Well-Known Member
Not a machinist and I only have a old Enco mill drill but all I have ever used is the 1/8" variety! I think maybe I have that exact same or similar set from Amazon. They work well for me.


YMMV
 

Sean Jones

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the reply. 1/8" does appear to be the most common.

However the 1/32 set from the Little Machine Shop increment in 1/16ths in height which is nice. I don't know whether that's really necessary for knife work though. Just wish they weren't so thin. I looked for 1/16th in width, but it doesn't look like such an animal exists
 

Motor City Mike

Well-Known Member
I worked in Tool & Die for years and have a set of the 1/8"

I use them now for knife making and have never needed anything else

I like to give a couple raps with a small dead blow to make sure the piece is seated correctly and 1/8" seem to be able to take it

YMMV
 

Sean Jones

Well-Known Member
I worked in Tool & Die for years and have a set of the 1/8"

I use them now for knife making and have never needed anything else

I like to give a couple raps with a small dead blow to make sure the piece is seated correctly and 1/8" seem to be able to take it

YMMV
Thanks Mike. Sounds like 1/8 will do the job
 

jaxxas

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the reply. 1/8" does appear to be the most common.

However the 1/32 set from the Little Machine Shop increment in 1/16ths in height which is nice. I don't know whether that's really necessary for knife work though. Just wish they weren't so thin. I looked for 1/16th in width, but it doesn't look like such an animal exists

Interesting, and as I said I'm not a machinist! I went out and looked at my set and apparently the only 2 parallels I have ever used is the 1" tall pair. Embarrassing, as awhile back I did make a taller set of jaws for my vise that I might not have needed!
 

Sean Jones

Well-Known Member
Interesting, and as I said I'm not a machinist! I went out and looked at my set and apparently the only 2 parallels I have ever used is the 1" tall pair. Embarrassing, as awhile back I did make a taller set of jaws for my vise that I might not have needed!
I never thought about making a taller set of jaws. As it is, when I looked at my 4" drill press vise I may need to fill in a gap on the one side to make the parallels work. It doesn't look I'll need to do that though with my cross slide vise though.

Always something to modify :)
 

KenH

Well-Known Member
Another vote for the 1/8" thickness.

The set I have is only 3" long, but it seems that all I see these days are 6" long. Is 6" parallels really that much better than 3" parallels? It seems like the extra 1-1/2" sticking outside my 3" machinist vise would be in the way. If I had a 6" vise I can see the desire for 6" parallels.
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
I have a cheap pair of 1/8" and 1/2" and use them both. If you are down to 1/16" from where you want to be to mill a surface for example, you can use a tooling plate to hold your part and them clamp it in your vice.
 

Sean Jones

Well-Known Member
Another vote for the 1/8" thickness.

The set I have is only 3" long, but it seems that all I see these days are 6" long. Is 6" parallels really that much better than 3" parallels? It seems like the extra 1-1/2" sticking outside my 3" machinist vise would be in the way. If I had a 6" vise I can see the desire for 6" parallels.
I wondered the same thing about the length. I went ahead and bought the 1/8th that are 6 inches long. I found a few that were 3" but the 6 is definitely the most popular. Hopefully they won't get in the way.
 

Sean Jones

Well-Known Member
I have a cheap pair of 1/8" and 1/2" and use them both. If you are down to 1/16" from where you want to be to mill a surface for example, you can use a tooling plate to hold your part and them clamp it in your vice.
Good idea Tracy. Thanks!
 

Kev

Well-Known Member
I actually have both the 1/8” and the 1/32”. The thin ones have been in my drawer in the same spot for years, and I’ll bet I only use them once every 2 or 3 years. The 1/8” ones I have 4 sets, and I’ll bet I use them I. One combination or another every day.
 

Smallshop

KNIFE MAKER
The problem with 1/32 parallels is it is very easy to damage your work when seating it on the parallels. Most of us smack it lightly with a dead blow to seat it. I have swedged marks in my work with 1/32 parallels. Oops. the 1/8s will probably be all you will need.
 

Sean Jones

Well-Known Member
Thanks guys. I received the 1/8" ones today and tried them out. Trying to figure out how I got along without them this far. I was always looking for something to put under what ever I was working on in the vise. I'd scrounge around and waste half-an-hour and then sometimes still couldn't find something that was the right height.

And agree on the 1-2-3 blocks. Mine get used a lot.
 
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