What kind of tools are typically used in a plastic injection mold making shop? Lots and lots of them. Hand tools to extremely advanced CNC machining centers, from hammers to Wire EDM machines. This has been quite interesting for me, considering that I spent hours and hours wandering around in hardware stores as a youth. There are also a lot of interesting magazines and TV shows about plastics.
Hand tools used in toolmaking
Ok, let’s begin with the basics: ball pein hammers, soft faced hammers, slotted screwdrivers, phillips head screw drivers, allen wrenches (both English and metric), punches and center punches, and wrenches of all sorts.
Entering the field of precision hand tools we find: outside micrometers from 1-3 inches, depth micrometers from 1-6 inches, dial indicators, surface gages, rulers (aka scales), magnetic bases, and parallels of an almost endless variety.
Choice sizes for parallels
Nobody can have all the necessary parallels, but there are some sizes that seem to be a better fit than others. Personally I found a great 6 piece set in a Brown and Sharpe catalog from the past. Actually I don’t think that they have tool catalogs anymore, but in any case, here are the sizes.
1/4 x 1/2 in.; 3/8 x 5/8 in.; 1/2 x 3/4 in. All of these are 6 in. long. These three sizes seem to fit a lot of applications found in the toolroom. Mold makers are able to make any size of parallel required, I suggest that the beginner make this set.
Another recommended size is the 1/8 in. x 3 in. set used for setups in a precision grinding vise. A Hermann Schmidt precision grinding vise is 3 in. wide, as are most of the vises found in mold making shops. These parallels are the perfect size and range from 3/8 in. to 1 5/8 in. in height, by 1/8 in. increments.
In the event that you need a randomly sized parallel, you can quickly make one out of graphite. Now that is a simple concept, just take an old piece of graphite, whip it into shape, and viola you have a custom parallel. You can even and a 45 channel to accomodate ejector pins to grind in the precision grinding vise.