Your Work Won’t Move with a Magnetic Drill Press Vise

Setting up your workpiece is often the hardest part of any machining operation. The goal is to secure the workpiece so it can’t move during machining in such a way that nothing gets in the way of the tooling. Magnetic chucks are a great choice for securely and flexibly holding down workpieces, as this simple shop-built electromagnetic vise shows.

It looks like [Make It Extreme] learned a thing or two about converting microwave oven transformers to electromagnets when they built a material handling crane for the shop. Their magnetic vise, designed for a drill press but probably a great choice for securing work to a milling machine, grinder, or even a CNC router, has a simple but sturdy steel frame. Two separate platforms slide on the bed of the vise, each containing two decapitated MOTs. Wired to mains power separately for selective control and potted in epoxy, the magnets really seem to do the job. The video below shows a very thick piece of steel plate cantilevered out over one magnet while having a hole cut; that’s a lot of down force, but the workpiece doesn’t move.

Like the idea of a shop-made vise but would rather go the old-fashioned way? Check out [Make It Extreme]’s laminated bench vise, which also makes an appearance in this video.

32 thoughts on “Your Work Won’t Move with a Magnetic Drill Press Vise

  1. I work in a machine shop so I might be a little biased but mag vises on a mill can be a recipe for an exciting day. The issue is that they work well for light loads and can keep a part from springing back when released; typically on a surface grinder. in the video they’re running a facemill and it worked great but I bet a larger end mill or large twist drill would send the part flying if you get after it.

    It’s a cool idea but at the end of the day a good vise is always the go to method for work holding…or fixturing straight to the table if a vise is too small or awkward. Good luck and keep your wits about you if you’re doing more than surfacing.

    1. I was going to say something similar but you did a good job so ditto……

      also these are horrible if you are pushing feed rates the combination of vibrations of the material and the lateral pressure make for a horrible combination for magnets of any type

    2. This, as others came here to say “nooo dont do this on a drill/mill”. I have a mag chuck on my surface grinder and its great for the light clamping forces involved, but there’s no way I’d use one on my mill, lathe or drill press.
      Sometimes when I need to stand something on its edge on the surface grinder, and I stick a vice with a broad flat base for magnetic holding power to the magnetic table and then clamp the workpiece into that it has so little holding power, and things flinging off the table at high speed are quite exciting as you say, especially when accompanied by bits of fragmenting stone.

  2. All material becomes magnetic and all particles that are suppose to be removed while drilling will remain and fuck up the drill after one use.
    Takes two seconds to realize this is daft.
    Take it to reddit instead.

    1. Surely you turn the magnet off between jobs and wipe the swarf off? Surface grinder mag chucks get furry with iron grindings between jobs and have to be cleaned (lots) like this.

      Its a really bad idea for lots of reasons, but this isnt really much of an aspect.

      1. One of the fab guys in my shop epoxied a level to a piece of aluminum….later a porter asked him how he got a magnet to stick to aluminum, the fab guy responded “I just reversed its polarity”. The porter spent the rest of the day asking people how to reverse the polarity of a magnet…

      1. perhaps it is easier to put your aluminum parts in a real vise (which is magnetic) and stick that onto the magnetic vise. Using glue is a problem when you need to remove it.

        But seriously, the idea is cool, but just like the others here I do question safety.
        The box holding the 2 switches made me smile, because for holding only 2 switches it is impressively large.

        1. Yes it is, and I do both and more besides, but what the bonding to a steel part to adhere to gives you is really really good access to the sides or for thin flat objects to work on them that a vice would hinder. Sometimes I glue steel things to other things just to hold them for machining or infil weak parts with resin to support them and dissolve it out after machining.
          You can get adhesive to nest things into/onto other things to hold them for machining that are easily dissolved afterwards. Just another string to your bow if you keep a open mind to the possibilities.
          Someone mentioned the mitee bites too elsewhere, thats another trick that works great. You just have to pick the right one for the right operation.

  3. Yea need to add an airline with enough pressure and flow to evacuate the chips properly. Not sure I would want all my cutting tools to be magnetic anyway… Need an extreme demagnetiser as well?

    Nice build tho, as usual.

  4. I know this is how you use a surface grinder, but I’d really rather have clamps or a vise. Magnets don’t resist shearing forces. You’re relying on friction. Maybe you get a feel for it after a while.

  5. The poles are way to big to be useful for anything but pretty large parts. Look at how fine the poles are on a standard magnetic chuck for a grinder or even a magnetic lathe chuck.

    Oh, and his laminated vise is crap. Welding chunks of metal together like that does not make for a strong vise. You are limited in strength to what little penetration he got from the poor weld prep.

    1. This. This is a no brainer. Isn’t it a rule ? Like you should always connect metal housing to earth. Except from some particular cases where you shouldn’t because of the way you’re connected to the power grid.

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