Soft Parallels
© Frank Ford 2006; Photos by FF

Well, I finally managed to run a drill bit into one of my precision parallels when I was making up a simple holder for some parts.  In my haste, I managed to earn a battle scar on one and chipped flute on the other. And, then it dawned on me.  Why not have some semi-accurate soft parallels for setting up this kind of casual project?  I'd picked up a box of 1/4" x 2" x 6-3/8" 6061 aluminum cutoffs that were headed for the dumpster about a year ago, so I already had a head start on the project:


I stacked 25 pieces in my vise, and milled the tops flat, flipped the stack and milled the other side flat as well.  I didn't worry about getting them all perfectly seated since I'd be cutting them down the middle.  I just wanted one straight edge on each side of each piece:

And, I trimmed the ends of the stack for neatness:


I cut five of them approximately in half, ten of them in two slightly unequal slices, and ten of them into a wide and narrow slice, so I'd have a total of five different widths.  I didn't measure, but just eyeballed the sizes:


Then in groups of six, I stacked and milled each of the sizes to a neat, relatively precise parallel shape:


Now I have parallels I can slip under any item where I might find myself drilling through:

This wasn't the offending drill job, but it makes a good illustration.


With ten of each size, I have purt near a lifetime supply. . .


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