Vise alternatives


I’m wondering if anyone has any recommendations for a less expensive vise that fits the nomad threaded table.



To set expectations, the Carbide 3D vise is already quite cheap. A standard machine vise can start at $700 and even a commercial vise similar to @pauketju’s costs $110. The Carbide 3D vise is also very well-suited to the Nomad. There are small vises like these but you’ll notice they’re rather high, 50mm in this case.

That in mind, if you’re really after something cheaper than the Carbide 3D vise, your main option is DIY like @pauketju suggests. Aside from that, there’s Chinese stuff like these dirt-cheap drilling vises but I’d personally consider it a waste of money. You might be able to find a small vise second hand but it’s likely to be something made for inspection or light handwork rather than machining.


I’d second that, cheap vices tend to be a constant source of irritating problems. They are frequently not very square, meaning you have real trouble getting properly square parts and lack of mass and rigidity means you get vibrations and poor surface finishes.


Part lift can also be a problem with cheaper vises. The most inexpensive vise is the the C3D Nomad one and if you replace the plastic tension pads with 6061, it will increase its holding capacity.


Thanks everyone for the input. I was look at something like this:

But, I guess the carbide3d vise is the way to go.

That vise and the Carbide 3D vise are cosmetically similar but I’d pay the extra for the Carbide 3D vise for the following reasons:

  • The Carbide 3D vise top and bottom are parallel, this vise may not be, it doesn’t list any tolerances.
  • The Carbide 3D vise has holes for 6mm dowel pins that line up with holes on the Nomad bed, which make it dead easy to precisely square with the Nomad X and Y axes.
  • The Carbide 3D vise has a steel ball bearing where the screw touches the moving jaw, which will make it last much longer.

That said, the Carbide 3D vise is definitely not perfect either. Depending on what you’re cutting, there might be other workholding better-suited. But as far as budget Nomad-compatible vises go, the Carbide 3D vise is pretty good.

If you hadn’t already bought the threaded table, I’d have recommended the Saunders Machine Works Mod Vise though. You need their threaded table because they use M6 holes with a 20mm grid instead of a 25mm grid.


I mailed them about their threaded table and whether it needed to be faced after installation.
The reply was ‘no’ but I was curious because AIUI the factory table is faced to ensure it is true.
So I decided I wanted to stick with the default Nomad table (so I can use C3D vise and flip-jig)
and did this instead:

The fixed adapter is located in one of two positions using dowel pins into the original nomad
table and then the reference surface has the final cut made to ensure it is parallel to X.
My original plan was to be able to accomodate two SMW jaws per adapter until I realised that the
left hand bolt slide on the movable adapter would foul the main jaw bolt.


You might have spoken to me @flynnjs

Personally I like to sweep the original bed with a tenths indicator and make notes of the high/low spots. Then I’ll bolt on a fixture plate and sweep it again, compare and shim as necessary to get it as flat as needed. I think my Nomad 3 took a few thou in the back left corner but leveled up nicely. Also fun fact, our Nomad plates are compatible with all stock Carbide3D accessories including the vise and flip jig with the added benefit of an extended plate coverage area of 2.5" in the X.

Have you swept the factory table?


I have, but after I made my original decision not to replace it. I suspect it also could be improved with shimming :smile: I don’t know if shipping causes change in alignment from when it is surfaced in the factory. I suspect in due course I shall put on an SMW table but as a hobbyist who needs to negotiate with their funds manager I can’t do it all at once :wink:

This is what I orginally did with the nomad threaded table only I used aluminum foil ( mine was 5 thou off in some spots ), Ended up just facing the entire thing a few months later when I was looking to make my entire setup more accurate from the ground up.


Having bought one of those Amazon vises, I can tell you that this vise is total junk.sticky movement makes it difficult to use, and you can see it kick open (up) when tightened. Never tried to use it in my Shapeoko because I can’t trust it. Pretty sure anything put in it would squirt out or end up with a crooked side.


@Vince.Fab what is the benefit of the extra width of the SMW Nomad table?

Can it be mounted along the X axis instead?

Can it mount two Carbide vices? Can they be mounted in either direction?

I need to mount a 10 pound 14” long object and I think two vices would work. Otherwise I’ll have to fabricate a fixture.

Not Vince but have the table:

More room for work holding.

The extra width is on the X-axis. The table can’t be reoriented, it bolts to the Nomad’s bed.

The threaded table has the same vise-compatible alignment bores as the stock bed. You might be able to mount two Carbide 3D vises but you’ll have to align the second one manually. I’m also not 100% sure if the hole spacing works.

Is it flat? Painters tape and superglue?

Thanks Lucas. I had the X/Y axis swapped in my thoughts.

The workpiece will be parallel to the Y axis and the clamps parallel to the X axis.

The stock is mirror polished stainless so glue is out. At 14+ inches and engraving on one end a lot of the weight will be cantilevered. A little more than 4 pounds will be unsupported so I think a pair of low vises would be needed. The piece is 1.5” tall. I will lay plastic shim stock in the vises to preserve the finish.

Better ideas are welcomed!

Do the mounting holes in the Carbide low profile vise match the hole pattern in the optional Nomad threaded table? Looks like only one vise can be mounted to the stock Nomad table.

To be clear, the superglue doesn’t touch the work piece. You put a layer of painters’ tape on the bed, another layer of painters’ tape on the work piece and then you use super glue to hold the two layers of tape together.

If the worry is damage to the workpiece, I don’t think there’s much of a concern, painters’ tape is gentle enough that it can be removed from paper without damage and any residue can be cleaned with acetone.

Or is the problem that adhesives don’t work on polished stainless?

I think this will cause the Nomad’s bed to tip in one direction slightly. It won’t break or flex dramatically but it means your workpiece won’t be fully parallel to the Y-axis, which might make engraving difficult. You might need to add some shims to compensate for the tilt but the tilt might be variable as the bed moves back and forward. Check with a dial indicator.

Alternatively, if you remove the Nomad’s door or back, you might be able to put something under the work piece overhang to support it while being able to slide back and forth freely.

Yes but the threaded table doesn’t have alignment bores so you’ll have to square the vise(s) manually.

I checked the SMW vise and it should be possible to mount and align one vise using the holes that match the stock bed. The other vise can still be mounted but not aligned using the bores.

1 Like

Thanks again Lucas!

Of course! Glue tape to tape. Another brain fart. In the past I have directly glued aluminum blocks together so holes match when working on the drill press. Afterwards used a torch to separate.

Haven’t tested ca glue on the mirror polished stainless but psa adhesives stick extra well.

I did get a reply from Carbide sales. The low profile vise does not fit the optional threaded plate (the black one) for the Nomad. Seems the mounting hole pattern is unique so even the SWM plate will only hold one of the Carbide low profile vises, and only in the middle. Hopefully I’m wrong about that.

Looking more like I’ll mount a couple slabs to Delrin or HMWPE on the Nomad and mill cradles then mod to have clamping function.

Well, another reply from a different sale rep says two low profile vises can be mounted to the threaded table.

I’m probably developing a reputation as a pest.
I wouldn’t need to ask these basic questions if they published specs on the store website.
Flipping the photo of the LP Vise mounted on the Nomad table isn’t helpful either.

Just for completeness. Carbide3D vise on Carbide3D threaded plate on Nomad Pro.