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Anyone have any experience with leg and post vices?

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ome

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#1
Hi,
picked up a few and need to know the basics about these 50 - 100 year old tools.
They are meant for blacksmithing.
Jon
 

ericc

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Hi. Sure, I am familiar with these things. I've used them a lot more than I have used lathes. Some things to remember: anything is an easy fix except the screw, they are forged steel, so you can pound on them, if they are missing a bracket or spring you can easily fabricate/forge another. Another thing is that their jaws do not meet flat. That's OK for hot work, but you may get a surprise if you expect them to grip cold steel like a machinist's vice. The leg should touch the ground or base to transmit the impact force. Do not let the ball whack you or pinch your finger when sliding the handle.
 

george wilson

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Being in a museum for 40 years,I am well familiarized with them.

Be aware that there are FILING post vises as well as FORGING post vises. Filing vises are made lighter. I recently acquired an actual 18th. C. filing post vise.

Since they were made of wrought iron(later,mild steel),rather than cast iron,they can stand a lot rougher treatment than a modern bench vise. The post transmits forces to the floor,too.

On old vises,they might thread the hole for the screw to go into by wrapping a piece of thoroughly annealed square steel rod,into the threads of the male screw. Then,it is annealed again,and checked for movement of the spiral. Then,it is slid into the hole you want threads in,and brazed in place. The square rod needs to be annealed so it doesn't change shape when it is heated up again to be brazed.
 

kd4gij

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#4
What new tools and no pic.:nono:

:worthless:
 

ome

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What new tools and no pic.:nono:

:worthless:
Sorry guys,
i should know better, wanted to temporarily get them out of our hallway and in there temporary home.
Will take pics because each one is different, one has what seems to be cracks going downward from the hub where the screw and receiver go thru.
Jon
here they are!

image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg
 
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george wilson

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Those cracks,if they are on the body of the vise,are where 2 pieces were forge welded together. They are not a defect.
 

ome

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Those cracks,if they are on the body of the vise,are where 2 pieces were forge welded together. They are not a defect.
Thanks George and Eric,
I have three of these vices, one Columbian brand at 66 pounds one iron city brand at 67 pounds and another no-name brand I cannot make it out that is 73 pounds.
The heavier vice is much easier to open and close the jaws and the spring fully extend this as a spreader where the other two , the spring's just stop working after just a couple of inches of the jaws being open.
Is there anyway to tell what type of metal is used in these vices, I have seen ebay advertise cast iron ,iron city post leg vice.
The columbian vise has a broken female starter thread, still works fine, but only the heaviest vice has a working spring.
What do the numbers on underside of mounting hardware, #2 on the columbian and #4 on the heaviest no name brand.
What can be used with a hand wire brush to remove surface rust, wd40?
only the heaviest vice stays tight during opening and closing, where the other two, move about within the holes in the body where they go thru and connect.
What is the best way to set up for use outside, no garage, but will build 120sf shed to store blacksmith and welding gear,
thanks so much,
jon
 

george wilson

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You probably don't have any nitric acid around. But,if you did,file a clean spot on a vise,and apply a drop of nitric acid. If it is wrought iron,the spot will turn gray. If mild steel,brown.

I can generally tell wrought iron just from looking carefully all over the surfaces. Wrought iron has silicon inclusions in it,which can be seen as black lines here and there in the metal. Mild steel will not have these inclusions.

Be careful how hard you clamp work in one of those vises,as the screw threads are badly worn on one of them. You might have the threads jumping the nut,or possibly strip out the threads that are inside the hole. They were probably brazed in as I described. They look like they are starting to come loose and out of the hole in 1 picture.

The 5th picture down shows a "crack" in the bulged part of the body where the screw goes through. That could be a silicon inclusion,or a "cold shut" from being forged,where the metal did not weld when it was forced together. Maybe that's the crack you refer to. Nothing to worry about.

Those vises were never,ever made of cast iron. Only from wrought iron or later,mild steel. You cannot forge cast iron. The sellers are ignorant.

There are some other tests for wrought iron,but most require destroying a piece,or grinding. Wrought iron has no carbon. It throws long sparks with few branches. Grind a piece of KNOWN mild steel for comparison.

Those vises have been used very hard,and abused,it looks like. Just beware to not strip those worn screws out by tightening too hard.

They are 19th or early 20th. C. 18th. C. types have a different(and inferior) way of clamping to the log or bench they were meant to be mounted on.
 
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ome

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You probably don't have any nitric acid around. But,if you did,file a clean spot on a vise,and apply a drop of nitric acid. If it is wrought iron,the spot will turn gray. If mild steel,brown.

I can generally tell wrought iron just from looking carefully all over the surfaces. Wrought iron has silicon inclusions in it,which can be seen as black lines here and there in the metal. Mild steel will not have these inclusions.

Be careful how hard you clamp work in one of those vises,as the screw threads are badly worn on one of them. You might have the threads jumping the nut,or possibly strip out the threads that are inside the hole. They were probably brazed in as I described. They look like they are starting to come loose and out of the hole in 1 picture.

The 5th picture down shows a "crack" in the bulged part of the body where the screw goes through. That could be a silicon inclusion,or a "cold shut" from being forged,where the metal did not weld when it was forced together. Maybe that's the crack you refer to. Nothing to worry about.

Those vises were never,ever made of cast iron. Only from wrought iron or later,mild steel. You cannot forge cast iron. The sellers are ignorant.

There are some other tests for wrought iron,but most require destroying a piece,or grinding. Wrought iron has no carbon. It throws long sparks with few branches. Grind a piece of KNOWN mild steel for comparison.

Those vises have been used very hard,and abused,it looks like. Just beware to not strip those worn screws out by tightening too hard.

They are 19th or early 20th. C. 18th. C. types have a different(and inferior) way of clamping to the log or bench they were meant to be mounted on.
Thanks very much George,
glad to hear those cracks are nothing to worry about, there are a few in the same area on the other side.
The threads on one are very narrow compared to the other two. That one has the thread coming off in the picture. Is that narrow because of the wearing of the threads?
do you know what the #'s mean on underside on mount plate?
That same vice, columbian brand, has a really deeply beaten vice tops as seen in the photo.
The last two photo's are of the no name vice , has a #8 on underside of vice body under the jaws.
It is also the tightest, and smoothest of them all.
It had some grease still on the screw. The last photo showing the vice jaws, you can see the lighter portion of the jaws. Is that a Hardened piece of steel at last part of jaw face?
Is there anything I can use to help clean the rust off with a hand wife brush?
Do I need to clean off all grease and replace with neversieze For the 1800degree limit, or something else when using for forging?
Out of the three, which one appears to you as being better made or in better condition for actually using it for holding items out of the forge?
The one with no name is the one in the last two pictures, that is the heaviest, and works much better, screw and receiver do not get loose and move around when opening the vise.
Thank you in advance for helping me sort these out, I bought 3 so I would end up hopefully with one good one.
Thanks again,
Jon
 
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george wilson

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The vise jaws ought to be faced with hard steel,yes. Built in.

I don't know what the numbers mean. I have the 18th. C. vise,and a 19th. C. vise here. For many years,we had a large "Indian Chief" vise at work that stood up to some pounding. I never paid any attention to the numbers. I'm sure they designate catalog sizes. Not sure if the sizes were universally the same in all catalogs. Even screw threads were not always QUITE the same diameter until standards were adopted.

Yes,your big screw is pretty worn. Worse,the internal threads in the hole might be worn the same,or worse. So,don't tighten them real tight. Mess up the threads in the hole,and you'll have a bit of work replaceing them as I described above.
 

PeteH

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Pretty much everything's been covered. One more thing to remember -- when you hang one of these on a bench, the bottom end of the leg should be resting on something VERY solid -- like a chunk of a tree, sunk in the ground underneath; or a big, thick steel plate, if you've got a concrete floor in the shop. That lets the force of hammering (assuming it's a "hammering" vise, not a "filing" vise) be transmitted downward, without straining the vise mount.

One of mine's got a 1"+ bulge, about an inch from the end of the leg; the tip of the leg is only about 1/2"-5/8" thick; that was (or so I've been told) intended to go into a locating hole in just such a steel plate.
 

f350ca

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#12
A buddy found one for me in an old barn. Good heavy one. Interesting to note, the bracket which bolts to the bench is only about 30 inches up from the swedge on the bottom. It lowers the vice to a more comfortable height for hammering I suppose, but would be too low to attach to the average bench top. Maybe it was made when people were shorter and benches were only 30 inches off the ground.
Greg
 

george wilson

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More likely it was lower to facilitate hammering.
 

KBeitz

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I still see them come into our local junkyard. I got so many vises that I don't pick them up...
 

COMachinist

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I still see them come into our local junkyard. I got so many vises that I don't pick them up...
You should they worth money to blacksmiths. You may think there aren’t many of them left around nut you would be wrong. The 1000s of artisan blacksmiths around the world. There is an organtion called ABANA that holds yearly hammer-ins where you can sell them easly. Long as they arein usable shape. I have 2 of them a heay 6” for hammering and a 4” fileing vise I use all the time.
CH
 

RJSakowski

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#16
I have four leg vises. A 5" in my shop and two 6" out in the forge. Another 6" lives in the barn. A also have a caulking vise, used to make caulks (similar to cleats) for horse shoes or to head bolts. Another vise in the collection is a farrier's vise. It was intended to be a portable vise for holding horse shoes while working on them.

Leg vises provide a great deal of leverage wh3en be3nding metal due to the long lever arm of the leg. Their coarse thread also makes for quick opening and closing , an asset when you have ten lbs. of red hot iron. It's one drawback is that the jaws aren't parallel because of the pivoting nature of the movable jaw. They also have a good deal of open space around the jaws which is great for tight work. When I need parallel jaws, I will clamp a drill press vise in the leg vise,

Here is a link which describes the caulking vise and farriers vise, among others.
http://www.anvilfire.com/vises/index.php



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