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Parallels Set

Parallels are steel bar stock accurately machined so the opposing edges are parallel. Sold in pairs with identical dimensions, they’re useful for many machining operations.

Parallels can support workpieces exactly parallel to the table but raised to provide clearance if a cutting tool extends through the bottom of the material. Parallels can also support pieces parallel to the base of a vise, raising the piece high enough in the jaws so the cutting operation doesn’t damage them. There are many more uses too.

This relatively inexpensive set from Chicago includes ten matched pairs of parallels: 1/2″, 5/8″, 3/4″, 7/8″, 1″, 1-1/8″, 1-1/4″, 1-3/8″, 1-1/2″, and 1-5/8″. Chicago machines the 1/8″ thick by 6″ long parallels to within 0.0002″. Each parallel is hardened to HRC 53-57 and has two holes drilled into it. The set comes in an indexed case.

For just being a few scraps of machined metal, parallels aren’t cheap — the set by Chicago brand runs about $55, and that’s on the low end of the scale. You can pay upwards of $1,000 for a set.

Precision Parallels Set [Chicago Brand]
Street Pricing [Google Products]


One Response to Precision Machining With Parallels

  1. Dave says:

    Nothing beats a good set of parallels when you’re running a milling machine. When I started as a machinist I bought a set of Made in China cheapos like the ones shown. I had them match ground at the shop where I worked and they’ve served me well. The biggest problem with thin, cheap parallels is that they bow.

    When I was a university student I worked in the campus machine shop. The guy that ran the shop had a set of top dollar parallels that were a toolmakers wet dream. They were 1/4″ thick and straight as an arrow. I looked into getting a set and they’re over $500. Since I don’t do much machining anymore I can’t justify the cost. But I can dream.

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