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Bench Vise

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abrace

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#1
All,

I am building a new work bench for my shop. I need a recommendation for a good (not great) bench vise. I would like decent quality without breaking the bank. Any suggestions?
 

mikey

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#2
I have many vises, perhaps too many vises, but the best one I own is a Charles Parker 4" vise made sometime in the mid-1930's. Weighs about 70# and it grabs solidly with 1/8" turn of the handle once the jaws touch the part. I own two Wilton machinist vises, an Emmert 4a, a Prentiss vise, a big Reed vise and several others with names I can't recall. None of them are as good as that Parker vise. Check ebay - they come up for not bad prices. If you want a new vise for cheap, look at the Record line of vises; there are better ones but not for the price.
 

master of none

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#3
Hi abrace don't know if this will help but I bought a vice from Lowe's not to long ago brand name is Record and I'm very happy with it ,keep in mind I'm just a Hobbyist and don't need anything real heavy duty but it has held up good and best of all it cost me about 40.00 or 45.00 dollars
 

wlburton

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Look for larger American made vises at least 30-40 years old on your local Craigslist. If the vise hasn't been abused (and you'll be able to tell when you see it in person) you can't really go wrong for your purpose. There really wasn't much of a market for cheap, poorly made larger vises (since most were being used by mechanics or farmers, not hobbyists) until at least the 70's, so there weren't that many made as far as I can tell. I have a Wilton, a large Craftsman I bought new about 30 years ago, two 40-some year old Craftsmans (one U.S. and one Japanese), a 100+ year old Parker with a swivel jaw, a Duracraft (Taiwanese) bullet vise clone and a very old looking Reed. I use all of them except the Reed, which I recently bought at an estate sale and am cleaning up to give to my daughter. Except for the Wilton and the Craftsman I bought new, none of them has cost more than $40.

I would stay away from the Chinese vises at the big box stores. The ones I've tried haven't worked very well and I've heard a number of accounts of their cracking under stress.

Bill
 

12bolts

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#5
It will also depend a bit on what you want to grip in the vise and how much pounding and wrenching you expect it to withstand. I have a 4" engineers vise (English made Record) for smaller stuff, a 6" engineers vise (Chicom made Record, but still pretty good), an 8" engineers vise (Australian made Dawn) and a 6" manufactured vise (not by me). The manufactured vise is at my welding bench and gets abused regularly. The other 3 get used as needed depending on the job but all are standing up well. I dont hammer on them, (too much....) but they are all bolted down securely because I do swing some big torque loads on them at times.
It really comes down to use. 4" is a neat handy size but can lack a bit of grunt. 6" is good and solid but takes up bench space 8" is overkill for a hobbyist, generally. I wish I had an offset at times.
Make sure when you mount it that the grip face of the fixed jaw is proud of the front edge of your work bench in the vertical plane.

Cheers Phil
 

Charles Spencer

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#6
Look for larger American made vises at least 30-40 years old on your local Craigslist
Since you are quite near Nashua, I agree. There are many good vises listed in NH. Also you should look at Worcester and Boston listings. I just did a quick search and found a bunch of good vises for very reasonable money.
 

abrace

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It will also depend a bit on what you want to grip in the vise and how much pounding and wrenching you expect it to withstand.
A fair point. This will be in my 'welding area' but will be a general purpose vise. I am sure some pounding will be involved. I plan on mounting it to the top of a workbench/table I am building. The tabletop will be 3/16" steel, but I may build up the area the vise mounts to a little thicker.
 

EmilioG

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#9
I have many vises, perhaps too many vises, but the best one I own is a Charles Parker 4" vise made sometime in the mid-1930's. Weighs about 70# and it grabs solidly with 1/8" turn of the handle once the jaws touch the part. I own two Wilton machinist vises, an Emmert 4a, a Prentiss vise, a big Reed vise and several others with names I can't recall. None of them are as good as that Parker vise. Check ebay - they come up for not bad prices. If you want a new vise for cheap, look at the Record line of vises; there are better ones but not for the price.
The Charles Parker vises look like they are well made. Most of the CP vises on Ebay are missing the base/swivel and look pretty beat up, but I'll keep looking for a good one.
Which CP vise do you have, is it a #205? Does it have a model number? Are there more than one 4" vise model and did you buy it with the swivel base? Can you find replacement jaws?
Were you able to remove your jaws and tear it down? Thanks Mike.
 
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Bob Korves

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I have two of the Craftsman Japanese made vises from the 1960-1970's, which you can get cheap. They are made of ductile iron, good stuff, and are well fitted. I beat the crap out of my 3.5" Craftsman for 40+ years and it still looks and works like new. I picked up a 5" one that has really been beat up, but nothing cracked and cleaned it up and milled the anvil smooth and painted it. Looks great now. I still need to make the workbench to put it on, so no testing yet...
 

Franko

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#12
I think for a home shop, nearly any vise is ok. That's all I've ever owned and I've never broken one. The Yost are pretty good vises. I have one and a lower end Wilton. The main thing to watch for is for the jaws to line up when it is closed.

I have several vises that I've mounted on plywood so I can move them to different corners of my benches. I just use clamps to hold them to the benches. That way, I can take them off if I need a clear bench top.

I use vises for many things. Mostly, for holding things while doing small operations, like marking or filing. My favorite vise that I use the most is a Yost Multi-angle vise. I put soft jaws on it because I work a lot with aluminum. This vice can rotate to horizontal or verticle and is very useful. Not for pounding stuff.

multi angle vise.jpg vert vise.jpg
 

abrace

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#13
Thanks for your input everyone. I took the suggestion from a previous poster to check out Craigslist. I found a brand new old-stock (still in the stapled cardboard box) Wilton Tradesman 6 1/2 1765. Got it for $350. Just a little light surface rust on some of the casting from sitting in the box for so long.

Thanks for your help.
 
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mikey

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#14
The Charles Parker vises look like they are well made. Most of the CP vises on Ebay are missing the base/swivel and look pretty beat up, but I'll keep looking for a good one.
Which CP vise do you have, is it a #205? Does it have a model number? Are there more than one 4" vise model and did you buy it with the swivel base? Can you find replacement jaws?
Were you able to remove your jaws and tear it down? Thanks Mike.
I have a model 434-1/2. It has 4.5" jaws that still close precisely. It is made from cast ductile iron and opens to 5" or so. As you can see, the castings are massive but the machining is pretty precise. The handle, which is forged, has a spring that prevents it from dropping and pinching your hand. The leadscrew is a square thread that is the most precise I've seen on a vise. The vise came with a swiveling base; it locks with two shoes that push out against the base, much like the drum brakes on a car. It takes very little torque to lock the base.

IMG_3892.jpg IMG_3902.jpg

The jaws were made of "Jessops" tool steel and were replaceable by driving two pins out of each jaw. I have not been able to find new jaws so I'll have to make some when I need them.

The whole vise was taken apart and took an electrolytic bath to get rid of all the rust. Then I painted it Hammertone Blue, which was somewhat close to the original blue of the vise.

CRW_4317.jpg CRW_4320.jpg

There were a number of 4" Parker vises but I can't recall the numbers. Search for the vise thread on Garage Journal and you'll find the info there.
 

EmilioG

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#15
Nice work. That vise is a beast. I remember using the one at my job to hold Albrecht clamps. What a grip these vises have, with very little pressure
with the turn handle. I didn't know Parker was such a great vise. Sellers are asking a lot of money for these old vises. I suspect most people will pass
on $300-$500 for an old vise and just buy a Wilton., especially on Ebay, sight unseen. I would have to buy it one in person. Thanks for sharing.
 

FOMOGO

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#16
I went with this one and it is working out well. Looks like the cheaper ones but actually made with ductile iron so jaw is stronger than the cheapies. Still very reasonable. Free shipping if you have prime is a real bonus too with a vise!
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CBL62HQ/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

That is a very handy style. I find the rotating head really useful. I bought 8 of them at an auction years ago new in the box (Chinese), Sold 4 of them which more than covered my cost, and kept 4 of them. I've beat on them hard and have failed to hurt any of them. I have a nice big Wilton bullet, but I treat it much better. Mike
 

abrace

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#17
All,

Below are some closeups of the vice. It is some light surface rust. Gonna go over the whole thing with a wire wheel, spot prime, then paint with the Rustoleum Hammered Green...not the Verde green that looks like what Wilton uses, but the deep green closer to Grizzly green. Why? I have 2 quarts hanging around.

The paint on the front of the vise looks like it was 'runny' at one point. I have a feeling this thing was exposed to some aerosolized solvents somewhere. If I knew it was in this shape when I bought it I probably would have pushed for a further discount, but it was sealed up in its original box. It wasn't quite as good of a deal as I thought. I saved $180 versus what I could find a brand new one for, but whatever. I don't mind a little project and I already own the paint.

I took most of it apart and the ACME screw looks great. The grease looks a little dry near the front, but nice and oily towards the back. It operates just great, so I think this is all minor cosmetics.

20161226_210158.jpg 20161226_210220.jpg 20161226_210229.jpg
 

abrace

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#18
Thought I would share after pics of the vise! Came out pretty good. I have never had a nice vice like this. It is a real treat. Takes very very little force on the handle to really lock your item in. I am quite impressed. Very smooth movement too. Nice!

This is also mounted to my brand new work bench that I just got done painting.



20170210_190548_resized.jpg 20170210_190555_resized.jpg 20170210_190609_resized.jpg 20170210_190616_resized.jpg
 
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