As a machinist, you know the value of precision and accuracy in the quality of your products. Their relevance cannot be overstated. Although nothing is a universal fix when it comes to precision issues, several tools offer quality control in the production sector. Owning the best tools can be expensive. However, working with metals is more expensive because an error in precision increases the cost of an entire project.
At one point in life, a machinist encounters a need to lift their workpiece above the worktable or vise. This is where the parallel set comes in handy. The tools allow you to use a machine without damaging your vise. So, what exactly are the precision parallel set? These are flat rectangular shaped blocks of steel, cast iron, or stainless steel that usually come in a matching pair. They are also hardened to prevent them from wearing out and becoming unparalleled.
What is the purpose of parallel sets?
The primary use of parallels is to raise your work material up in a vise or work table. They will keep your workpiece parallel to the clamp, thereby, protecting it from drilling or milling machine. You can also use the tool in a damaged vise to securely hold your work material. What is more, is that it allows you to produce a product that is flat and even in thickness along the length.
There are various designs of parallel set in the market, including wavy parallel and adjustable parallel set. The wavy parallel is designed with thin spring that can be easily compressed in a vise. On the other hand, you can set the adjustable parallel to a specific size and use it as a gauge or support.
A set of parallels may come in several pairs with the same or varying dimensions. A range of sizes and thickness allows you to stack them up, thereby providing support to a work piece that lacks a flat surface underneath. Here is a review of the best precision parallel sets to help you make the ideal choice that caters for your needs.
5 Best Precision Parallel Set
If money is not a problem and you need a reliable heavy-duty parallel set for your projects, then Brown & Sharpe is your best bet. The set comes in various sizes ranging from ½ inch to 1-1/8inch, which gives it versatility. You can use the tools for marking, positioning, checking, and setting work at a required length. Therefore, you are assured of high-quality performance regardless of the project you are handling.
The package also contains ten pieces of parallels. When it comes to durability, they are designed of steel to prevent corrosion and wear. Besides, the devices are hardened to withstand abuse and to avoid distortion under pressure. All these features increase their life span and performance level.
Other incredible features are the height specification and two holes in each device. These allow you to position and secure your workpiece with t-slot clamps. Thanks to its ergonomic design, you can quickly get the task done.
However, to get this efficient parallel set, you should be willing to spend a relatively high amount of money. While it may be on the pricier side, it is totally worth it, especially when you are working on serious projects that require ultra-precision.
- The set has a range of sizes that makes it versatile in its applications.
- With the two holes in each tool, you can use a T-slot clamp to hold your material.
- It provides ultra-precision results.
- It has an ergonomic design for ease of use.
- The set is reliable and consistent.
- The package contains 10 pieces.
- It is also made of hardened, durable steel.
- It is quite expensive
Starrett is a reputable brand among machinists. The company produces excellent products that are efficient and reliable, like the Starret S154SZ adjustable parallels. The set contains six parallels of different sizes and thickness of 9/32-inch. With these various sizes, you can use the tools for different applications in inspection work, gagging, layout, and setting up machine tools.
Additionally, the tool boasts of an adjustable feature that enables you to adjust it by a micrometer measurement to an exact size. With this model, you don’t need to have other parallels since you can use it in place of different types of parallels. All you have to do it to adjust it to fit the measurement of the area.
Thanks to its adjustable design, the set is very versatile. You can efficiently use it in vises to level your material on milling and grinding machinery, drill presses, planers, shapers, among others.
Adding a cherry on top, the parallel set comes with a handy lock screw feature. The smaller sizes have one screw, while the larger sizes contain two lock screws. Meaning that the parallels will not slide out underneath your workpiece when you are working. Furthermore, the parts smoothly glide over each other, thus, making them comfortable and safe to use.
- The set is easily adjustable and slides smoothly.
- All the parallels have a 9/32-inch thickness
- The set is convenient and reliable to use in vises, work tables, and for adjusting machinery.
- These parallels come in various sizes hence making them versatile in their applications.
- The adjustable design allows you to set it to exact size by micrometer measurement.
- They come in a case for portability.
- They are on the pricey side.
- The casing is not very durable.
The precision and versatility of this set will blow you away. You can easily use it for various applications, thanks to its ranging sizes. This set of four parallels has sizes ranging from 3/ inch to 1-5/16 inch. Meaning that with its versatile range of uses, you don’t need to buy other solid parallels. You can just use this model for all your projects.
Another area of brilliance is its durability. The parallels are constructed with steel material to minimize the wearing and corrosion. You don’t have to worry about the tools breaking down since they can withstand the harsh environment. What is more, is the adjustable feature that allows you to adjust it to your desired size with the use of a micrometer. This provides ease of operation.
Each parallel in the set has two dovetailed parts that you can move apart or together to fit any dimension. You can then lock the clamp screws to secure the parallels in place to prevent them from sliding out. These tools are of professional quality and reliable when you are making repetitive rip cuts. They are also convenient for marking, checking, or positioning tasks. Besides, you can use them to set up machines and measure slots.
- The set has various sizes that increase its versatility
- You can adjust them to fit your desired size.
- The company has an excellent reputation.
- It eliminates the need to buy multiple parallels.
- The construction material is highly durable to last longer.
- The set includes four parallels.
- They lack Torx or Allen wrench.
- The set is a little pricey.
If you are looking for affordability and efficiency in a parallel set, then this model from HHIP will work for you. Don’t mistake its affordability to mean that it is of cheap quality. On the contrary, the set is made of spring steel, which ensures its durability.
The steel is hardened, precision ground, and stress relieved. This is to guarantee that the parallels don’t get distorted after a while. It will give you excellent service for an extended period.
The set comes with nine wavy parallels that have various sizes ranging from ½-inch to 1-1/2inch.they also have a height increment of 1/8inch and accuracy of +/-0.0002inch in parallelism and height. These features increase its versatility in applications.
You can use the set on a precision setup in milling, drilling, boring, assembly work, and many more. Besides, you can also readily use it as elastic shims. Thanks to the spring pressure that the parallels have, you can use the parallels on thin and fragile workpieces without damaging them.
Another impressive feature is the fitted case that the set comes in. This provides easy mobility and safe storage of the tools. It caters to hobbyist needs due to its ease of use and affordability.
- It can be used as elastic shims.
- The spring steel is durable and reliable.
- It is versatile in its applications.
- You can use them on small and fragile materials.
- The set comes in a fitted case hence improving its portability.
- The set contains nine pieces that vary in size.
- It is quite affordable
- Compressing the parallels sideways makes them less wavy and changes the length unevenly.
This USA made tools are designed with the convenience of the user in mind. The set features six parallels of different sizes ranging from 3/8-inch to 2-1/4 inches. The wide range of sizes provides the versatility of the devices.
Thanks to their adjustable feature, you can simply adjust the parallels to match your desired size by using a micrometer. Each parallel further consists of two precision parts hence allowing them to slide smoothly on one another. Meaning that you can easily insert it into openings and then expand it to the required size.
You also won’t worry about the parallels falling out of place while you are working. This is due to the set of screws that locks it securely in place. Furthermore, it facilitates achieving precision and high-quality products. one major disadvantage of this set is its high price
- The set contains six adjustable parallels
- The parallels have varying sizes.
- Each tool is made of two pieces that slide smoothly on each other hence enabling ease of use.
- You can easily adjust and set it to the size that you desire.
- The devices are constructed with durable material for a longer life span.
- The parallels have a lapping compound that needs to be cleared out and oiled.
- They may have parallelism of up to 0.002 inches.
- It is a little bit expensive.
Why You Need to Use the Best Precision Parallel Set
With the wide variety of parallel sets, the task of buying one that fits your need can be challenging. Regardless of the kind of parallel set, they all have the same purpose. The only difference is the level of efficiency and consistency. Therefore, before you purchase the device of your choice, here are a few benefits to expect from the best precision parallel set.
Variety of sizes
The first aspect that you will notice about the precision parallel set is the number of parallels in each package. You will also see that the tools have different sizes but the same height. These varying sizes provide for their versatility.
Wide range of application
Another benefit is the various ways that you can use the parallel set. Regardless of what your project is, you can use the tools to do the jobs. Some of the uses include protecting the vise or work table from machinery. Furthermore, you can also use it to adjust and set up boring, drilling, milling, grinding, and assembly work.
The adjustable parallels are not usually used like other solid parallels in a vise. You can use them to measure slots, set an angle on a clamp, and level odd-shaped materials in a work table. More so, the adjustable parallels can perform as a gauge block.
Ease of use
Another factor that you will appreciate is how easy and straightforward it is to operate the tools. Some have lock systems to secure them in place, therefore no need to worry about them falling over. Besides, other parallels also feature magnetic locks to keep them together for efficiency.
With the adjustable parallels, you can easily adjust them to the size you require by using a micrometer. Moreover, you can simply insert it in openings and then move them apart or together until you get the needed measurements,
When it comes to durability, the quality of most precision parallel sets is excellent. They are made of hardened materials that can withstand extreme abuse. The steel material is also precision grounded and stress relieved to prevent possible distortion of the tools.
The tools also come in a plastic case that not only ensures the safety of the devices, but it also improves the portability when you are working in different sites. Therefore, you will not waste time and energy searching for the tools.
Although most of the parallel set are expensive, there is a vast number of quite affordable tools some of which we listed above. This factor makes them ideal for both professionals and hobbyists. You can get an efficient tool that matches your needs without breaking the bank.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: What are parallels?
A: These are rectangular-shaped blocks of durable steel, cast iron, and stainless steel that generally come in a matching set of two. Also, they range in sizes hence facilitating their various applications.
Q2: What are parallels used for?
A: The parallels are used to level or adjust the workpiece. This helps to prevent the cutting tool from running into the worktable or vise.
Besides, you can also use the parallels to level odd-shaped work materials for precision quality. You can clamp them to a work table for repetitive work on multiple parts.
Q3: How are parallels used?
A: You don’t really require any particular skill to use parallels. Just ensure that it is not sitting on any debris or chips. The place that you place them should be clean and waste-free. If you are using them in a vise, set the workpiece on the parallels and tighten to prevent it from sliding. Check to confirm that the part is not moving, then proceed to the machining task.
Q4: What are some tips for using parallels?
A: The most annoying aspect of using parallels is the tendency to fall over. One obvious way to stop this is by using small springs in between the parallels. This keeps them against the vise jaws in case you are closing or opening the vise.
Another effective method is by using a bent part of spring steel. Cut off a strip and bend it into a Z shape to keep your parallels upright and apart. The benefit of using this method over the traditional coiled springs is that it allows the vise jaws to close much further.
Q5: What is the primary advantage of an adjustable parallel set?
A: The adjustable feature allows you to adjust it to the size you desire by using a micrometer. It also eliminates the need for multiple kinds of parallels.
Q6: Why do parallels have holes?
A: The holes drilled on the face of parallels allows them to be utilized in positioning a workpiece. Furthermore, the holes facilitate the use of t-slot clamps in securing the work. The holes act as countersink to get rid of any sharp edges.
Although you might not consider parallels as a basic machinist tool, it plays a significant role in ensuring premium quality of products. They help in adjusting or leveling the height of a work material for ease of access when operating a machine. However, with the many parallels in the market, you may be confused about choosing your ideal match.
We hope that our review, including the disadvantages and benefits, has provided you with an insight to make an appropriate choice. However, our pick for the best precision parallel set is Brown & Sharpe 599-673-10 Adjustable Parallel Set. The set contains four parallels made of its sturdy, durable material. The parallels further vary in size hence increasing their versatility. With this adjustable set, you can get an exact size by a micrometer. What is more is that it will save you money because they eliminate the need for other parallels. When shopping for the best precision that covers your individual need, it is better to invest in an efficient tool for professional quality products.