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MotorMouth
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Posted: 9/30/2012 3:26:08 AM EST
I'm looking for a recommendations for a good 4 or 5 inch bench vise. I'll use it primarily for home gunsmithing/AR assembly, and general purpose tasks. I don't want to spend a boatload, but I also don't want a piece of junk.

When I look online there seem to be a lot of reviews that describe vises that chip, fall apart, break or bind up from regular use. So does the hive have any suggestions?
To quote the great philosopher Ferris Bueller, "It's so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up." -RonnieJamesDioFan

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Elijah1
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Posted: 9/30/2012 3:32:42 AM EST
If you are only using it for gun smithing an inexpensive one from lowes should be more than fine. There is no reason to go drop a ton of money on a Wilton unless you beat the shit out of them.

FWIW I have one from Harbor Freight and I have beat the hell out of it. It has held up better that I would have ever expected.
VBC
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Posted: 9/30/2012 3:39:19 AM EST
I have one from Lowes and one from Ace Hardware. Both made in China but the Ace one is built better.
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Posted: 9/30/2012 3:41:09 AM EST
[Last Edit: 9/30/2012 3:47:06 AM EST by RhinelandArms]
Trust me, avoid anything new from any of the major stores. Kobalt suck so bad its not even worth it to blow them to hell but they sure look pretty.

For gunsmithing your going to want a good beefy vise, its your lifeblood. My recommendation is to get an older American made one off Ebay if you can not get a new US made Wilton. There is a reason why people pay $100 plus for a 80 year old US made vise. Spending anything less is a total waste of money and you will crack it the second you try to pull your first Mauser barrel.

I have busted 1 generic, 1 Kobalt and 1 massive Caftsman vise, in other words every single new vise I have tried it junk. I use a 100 year old Bridgeport Milling vise that is indestructible.
recoiljunky
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Posted: 9/30/2012 3:48:15 AM EST
When I was a kid my dad had a hydraulic shop with Wilton vices. I used to beat the shit out of them.

Dad had long since passed away and I bought my first vice, a Craftsman. I broke it within a month.
FALARAK
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Posted: 9/30/2012 3:54:06 AM EST
I bought a cheap $59 one at Lowest or Home Depot... made in china. No - it wont hold up in a machine shop... but I have built 100 AR's with it and its been great. No regrets.

It has swivel and 5" jaws. Love it.
Sorry about the mayonnaise, guys.
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Posted: 9/30/2012 3:54:48 AM EST
Do not buy the Homier one from the traveling tool show.....
Darrellbear
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Posted: 9/30/2012 4:04:13 AM EST
Good on ya for at least knowing how to spell vise.

Good advice above, all I'll say is to give some consideration to where you mount the vise. Are you left or right handed? Think of workflow and where it will be the least hindrance when you do other things at your workbench. Don't tie up all the corners on your bench. Also, be sure to mount it far enough out to allow the vise AND the work to swing and clear the table edge/corner.
TaylorWSO
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Posted: 9/30/2012 4:12:56 AM EST
craigslist wtb bench vice.

You will find someone you has a old one built like a brick shithouse.

the new ones are generally shit
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MotorMouth
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Posted: 9/30/2012 4:22:49 AM EST
[Last Edit: 9/30/2012 4:26:41 AM EST by MotorMouth]
If it helps any, I see myself using this vise to install sights on pistols, hold AR building vise blocks, hold a work piece while saw or carve on it, and very, very infrequently beat something into shape.

I guess I need something that has a good grip and won't move around me more than I need a qua anvil. A few reviews that I have read online basically indicated that the jaws are not parallel or do not hold tight unless cranked down hard. I don't want to have to crank down on the vise handle with hammer in order to hold a pistol slide in place while I punch out a dove tail mounted sight.

Ah, the bedevilment of the home handyman: $500 for pro gear, or $50 for the item that half say is just fine and the other say will fall apart on you the second time you use it.

Curse you Craftsman! Curse you to hell for dropping the ball on that reliable middle ground.

Originally Posted By Darrellbear:
Good on ya for at least knowing how to spell vise.


Thanks, I guess. Doesn't seem like much of an accomplishment.

I could have asked for advice on vises. That would have been much trickier, because we far more frequently have threads asking for someone to advise the OP regarding vices.
To quote the great philosopher Ferris Bueller, "It's so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up." -RonnieJamesDioFan

As usual, this guy has it right. - krpind
RightwingNutjob
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Posted: 9/30/2012 4:39:53 AM EST
Buy and cry once. Don't buy a junk vise at Hazard Fraught or other Chinese crap from the marts. Vintage Wiltons can be found on eBay somewhat cheaper than the new version but they do sell quick and the bidding is usually pretty heavy on them for nicer ones.
pbaeod
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Posted: 9/30/2012 5:41:43 AM EST
Whatever you buy, grease your lead screw and remember your vice is not a anvil or a press.
If you say it's a bad idea, I'm all for it.
FALARAK
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Posted: 9/30/2012 5:48:50 AM EST
Yes, you should spend $500 on a vise, because a $50 "might" break.

Sorry about the mayonnaise, guys.
C_F
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Posted: 9/30/2012 5:50:31 AM EST
[Last Edit: 9/30/2012 5:55:28 AM EST by C_F]
Not sure of your location in Ohio but here's one on CL in the Plain City area for $150 that includes a steel fab table.
If I wasn't already set with vise needs I'd be all over the deal.

http://columbus.craigslist.org/tls/3305728043.html


EDIT:
And another in Lancaster for $80 that comes with a grinder.

http://columbus.craigslist.org/tls/3240520248.html
TK5
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Posted: 9/30/2012 5:55:27 AM EST
I like the Harbor Freight ones. Served me well through my 4x4 days. I never saw the point of spending big money as I never had issues with the cheapie HF.
Ranchitecture
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Posted: 9/30/2012 6:06:19 AM EST
I have a Harbor Freight vise. Decent for the money. Loctite the jaw guards though, they come off otherwise.
skink
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Posted: 9/30/2012 6:13:27 AM EST
[Last Edit: 9/30/2012 6:14:01 AM EST by skink]
I have two Columbia vises.. Both made in the US. IIRC the newer one wasn't that $$$.
Sockrotter
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Posted: 9/30/2012 6:15:11 AM EST
I lucked into this one a few years ago; weights almost 90lbs., a dollar a pound.


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then by 5,000, then by everybody except the nutcase down the street.
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texassooner
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Posted: 9/30/2012 6:16:14 AM EST
Originally Posted By VBC:
I have one from Lowes and one from Ace Hardware. Both made in China but the Ace one is built better.



I have one from ace also. It has been great so far.
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Gopherboy128
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Posted: 9/30/2012 6:18:25 AM EST
Asking for opinions is no different regardless of the item in question. Just like asking about gun parts. Personally I say buy a nice Wilton and get over it, and maybe someday pass it on to your son, grandson, whatever. I inheirited mine from my late grandfather. He wasn't easy on it, I know I probably abuse it too, but it still works like new! If it makes more sense for you to buy a cheap vise now and replace as needed, or buy a nice one and have it forever, that is something only you can decide.
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torstin
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Posted: 9/30/2012 6:20:45 AM EST

Originally Posted By C_F:
Not sure of your location in Ohio but here's one on CL in the Plain City area for $150 that includes a steel fab table.
If I wasn't already set with vise needs I'd be all over the deal.

http://columbus.craigslist.org/tls/3305728043.html



The Parker vise alone is worth $150.00 to many people. You could probably keep the vise, scrap the table, and almost break even. Of course, it's also nice to have a slab of 1" steel on hand too.
Krink
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Posted: 9/30/2012 6:22:18 AM EST
found a wilton and it was worth the effort after I broke 2 lesser vises and learned my lesson
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pbaeod
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Posted: 9/30/2012 6:24:33 AM EST
Originally Posted By Sockrotter:
I lucked into this one a few years ago; weights almost 90lbs., a dollar a pound.
<a href="http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/145/pict0178q.jpg/" target="_blank">http://imageshack.us/a/img145/696/pict0178q.jpg</a>



NICE!

If you say it's a bad idea, I'm all for it.
69cutlass
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Posted: 9/30/2012 6:28:27 AM EST
Originally Posted By TaylorWSO:
craigslist wtb bench vice.

You will find someone you has a old one built like a brick shithouse.

the new ones are generally shit


I go with this,find a used one.
I see them from time to time out junk barning and flea markets.
Wtb CL ad seems like a easy hassle free first step for a older USA one.
SrBenelli
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Posted: 9/30/2012 6:33:23 AM EST
Originally Posted By FALARAK:
Yes, you should spend $500 on a vise, because a $50 "might" WILL break.




FIFY.....
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Mauser1
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Posted: 9/30/2012 6:51:28 AM EST
[Last Edit: 9/30/2012 6:55:02 AM EST by Mauser1]


I use a Harbor freight. It wont need a ton of clamping force. I made a set of soft jaws by cutting a couple of pieces of wood in a U shape and then gluing on some nice leather faces.

There are tons of tapered parts on guns that still need clamping. Get too much vise and get used to egg shaped bores and crushed slides that will not go back on.

pretty much any gunsmith I know uses a Wilton but It is used 50 times a day. I use mine three times a week. If I need something clamped hard then it's to the outside work bench with it.

Kharn
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Posted: 9/30/2012 7:00:02 AM EST
Cruise garage sales.
Find the heaviest mofo available that requires 2-3 guys to get it into your truck.

Kharn
FALARAK
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Posted: 9/30/2012 7:02:07 AM EST
Originally Posted By Kharn:
Cruise garage sales.
Find the heaviest mofo available that requires 2-3 guys to get it into your truck.

Kharn


Personally, for the work I do, I would not want one that big. It would be fucking annoying.
Sorry about the mayonnaise, guys.
WALTJA02
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Posted: 9/30/2012 7:02:26 AM EST
I used to work at the foundry. We poured the castings for the vises. They made craftsman, wilton, another brand name that I can't remember, and some without a name on them. the only difference in the cast was the name plate was changed to what ever "brand" they were selling. The mold and the metal was the same.
kaos
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Posted: 9/30/2012 7:10:42 AM EST
Ebay has some good old iron show up.

Do a search for local sales, or just pay the shipping.

I got some great old vises over the years, all made in U.S.A. in the last 100 years.
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Posted: 9/30/2012 7:26:19 AM EST

Originally Posted By Sockrotter:
I lucked into this one a few years ago; weights almost 90lbs., a dollar a pound.
http://imageshack.us/a/img145/696/pict0178q.jpg


That was a deal
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Posted: 9/30/2012 7:56:40 AM EST
While looking for a vice a few years ago, i concluded that it is 100% impossible to get an old-school he man vice from our father's/grandfather's era at any retail establishment, including tool stores. I visited all of the big box stores, the little hardware stores and at least one dedicated contractor's tool store. Lots of miles wasted, i finally gave in and bought something at Home Depot.

You can certainly get a good vice online, and if you are super lucky, from an estate sale.

The chinese vice i bought works well enough for what i do, but i feel a pain inside every time i look at it. Do grease the threads, and lock down the jaws.
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Posted: 9/30/2012 8:03:21 AM EST
The vise and fabrication table in Plain City looks like the shit. If I didn't have a Columbia and a 30 year old Craftsman I'd call that dude.
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Posted: 9/30/2012 8:11:57 AM EST
I have wondered whether or not the problems with the modern vises have at least something to do with the age of the iron. In other words, would a week in an oven or a cycle down to -300 fix the cracking issues? That seems to really help engine blocks. By the time that you are done with a temperature cycle they are pretty dimensionally stable, right?
MotorMouth
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Posted: 9/30/2012 1:18:06 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/30/2012 1:56:59 PM EST by MotorMouth]
Well, I went against the conventional wisdom, and ended up buying a 6 inch vise from Home Despot. It's hell of an improvement from the 2.5" clamp on job.

I already put it to use and I happy with it thus far.

It's first job today, fabricating soft jaws from aluminum angle stock. Held the pieces nicely while I sawed and filed them to size.

It's second job today was holding the slide of my M&P while I drifted out the rear sight to install an Apex USB, and Trijicon night sight. I would have installed the front night sight, but I bent two brass punches trying so it looks like I'm headed to the gun smith on Monday.

Anyway, another question for all of the master machinists, and smiths:

Only one thing I noticed that I didn't care for about the new vise, when I was done working on the angle stock, I started loosening the jaws they didn't move for a second and then seemed to jump. I think that means I may have over tightened it? It didn't do it on the slide, but I didn't crank it down super tight and it's much wider than the aluminum angle stock, so . . . Is that normal for over tightening, or just indicative of the "quality" of the vise?


ETA: Its a 6" Irwin Wilton vise? Brand is definitely Irwin but the shelf tag describe it as a Wilton vise.
To quote the great philosopher Ferris Bueller, "It's so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up." -RonnieJamesDioFan

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Posted: 9/30/2012 1:21:30 PM EST

Originally Posted By WALTJA02:
I used to work at the foundry. We poured the castings for the vises. They made craftsman, wilton, another brand name that I can't remember, and some without a name on them. the only difference in the cast was the name plate was changed to what ever "brand" they were selling. The mold and the metal was the same.

I think it's the components which cause it to open and close which most folks break. I know that's what always happens to me.
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Posted: 9/30/2012 1:28:16 PM EST
Originally Posted By MotorMouth:
Well, I went against the conventional wisdom, and ended up buying a 5 inch vise from Home Despot. It's hell of an improvement from the 2.5" clamp on job.

I already put it to use and I happy with it thus far.

It's first job today, fabricating soft jaws from aluminum angle stock. Held the pieces nicely while I sawed and filed them to size.

It's second job today was holding the slide of my M&P while I drifted out the rear sight to install an Apex USB, and Trijicon night sight. I would have installed the front night sight, but I bent two brass punches trying so it looks like I'm headed to the gun smith on Monday.

Anyway, another question for all of the master machinists, and smiths:

Only one thing I noticed that I didn't care for about the new vise, when I was done working on the angle stock, I started loosening the jaws they didn't move for a second and then seemed to jump. I think that means I may have over tightened it? It didn't do it on the slide, but I didn't crank it down super tight and it's much wider than the aluminum angle stock, so . . . Is that normal for over tightening, or just indicative of the "quality" of the vise?


ETA: Its a 5" Irwin Wilton vise? Brand is definitely Irwin but the shelf tag describe it as a Wilton vise.


It's called back lash and its pretty normal for most machine tools for cutting and stuff to have slop in the threads it helps protect them. No slop would be bad.
If you say it's a bad idea, I'm all for it.
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Posted: 9/30/2012 1:30:57 PM EST
I've been using a Harbor Freight 3", fits an AR receiver block exactly
MotorMouth
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Posted: 9/30/2012 1:35:08 PM EST
Originally Posted By pbaeod:

It's called back lash and its pretty normal for most machine tools for cutting and stuff to have slop in the threads it helps protect them. No slop would be bad.


Ah, cool. I didn't know that. I figured it was a "Yup, you bought a cheap pos" moment.

Thank you for the answer.

To quote the great philosopher Ferris Bueller, "It's so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up." -RonnieJamesDioFan

As usual, this guy has it right. - krpind
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Posted: 9/30/2012 1:37:38 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/30/2012 1:38:36 PM EST by Keith_J]
I lucked out and my GL-acquired M1031 came with a nice one on the tailgate. Makes the tailgate quite heavy. Eventually the tailgate will be bolstered, probably with better plywood and a steel top face.

Back to the vise. IIRC, it is an Anchor brand, 4" wide jaws with a 6" opening. It has the pipe jaws mounted lower. When I first took delivery, the fixed jaw face was missing. I found it in one of the compartments and managed to pull the fragments of the 1/4"x 20 screws from the vise. So it is now complete.

GL sells vises, just in lots of 4-6. They usually go for 400 and up, not a bad price for great quality used units.
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MotorMouth
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Posted: 9/30/2012 1:39:25 PM EST
Originally Posted By Keith_J:
I lucked out and my GL-acquired M1031 came with a nice one on the tailgate. Makes the tailgate quite heavy. Eventually the tailgate will be bolstered, probably with better plywood and a steel top face.

Back to the vise. IIRC, it is an Anchor brand, 4" wide jaws with a 6" opening. It has the pipe jaws mounted lower. When I first took delivery, the fixed jaw face was missing. I found it in one of the compartments and managed to pull the fragments of the 1/4"x 20 screws from the vise. So it is now complete.

GL sells vises, just in lots of 4-6. They usually go for 400 and up, not a bad price for great quality used units.


Military Surplus pick up truck?
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Posted: 9/30/2012 1:40:11 PM EST
I don't know if it's been posted yet but if you want to get a nice higher quality vice start going to auctions, particularly farm auctions; they're the best for scoring good tool deals in my experience.
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Posted: 9/30/2012 1:41:23 PM EST
Bought one from HD years. I gout it home and it broke the first time I used it.

It was made in China. All indications were that it was a defective cast with a void.

Someone at the factory was using bondo to repair the defects and paint them.

Brought it back and the guy there called it BS. Checked the demo and was bondoed, painted and shipped.

The whole lot was pulled and sent back to the warehouse.

I got a new one worth almost three times the cost as an exchanged.
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Posted: 9/30/2012 1:42:19 PM EST
Originally Posted By FALARAK:
Yes, you should spend $500 on a vise, because a $50 "might" break.



Yes, you should. It is better to gain from spending $500 than it is to lose from spending $50. It is just too damn expensive to be cheap.

I've had a Wilton for 12 years, never a problem, it will out live me.
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Posted: 9/30/2012 1:42:24 PM EST
Originally Posted By Sockrotter:
I lucked into this one a few years ago; weights almost 90lbs., a dollar a pound.
<a href="http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/145/pict0178q.jpg/" target="_blank">http://imageshack.us/a/img145/696/pict0178q.jpg</a>



Nice vice, I would take that deal anyday of the week.
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Posted: 9/30/2012 1:44:57 PM EST
I see a used Wilton for cheap every once and a while.
You're full of shit!
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Posted: 9/30/2012 1:47:39 PM EST
Check swap meets, pawn shops, and CL or ebay first for an old USA made vise. Fixed base is better IMO.

If that fails, you can check online places like ENCO, Amazon, etc. and check for coupon codes. Might work out.

Wiltons are the best but literally cost a fortune so unless you have extra money or will use it every damn day and beat it up it's hard to justify the cost.

Yost makes a very nice product, most of which are USA but they aren't so cheap either.

I've found that jaw width is not as important as jaw opening and depth. Also, I like fixed base vises over swivel. Bear in mind though that spending some good money on a good vise isn't a waste. It fucking sucks when a vise fails to do its job and causes your work piece to be damaged or injury, etc.
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Posted: 9/30/2012 1:48:19 PM EST
Bought the Chinese version from Harbor Freight two years ago.

Have beat the crap out of it and it's still works as advertised.

Not the Machine Shop, heavy-duty one but how many U-Joints are you gonna pound out? Works for what the average guy needs it for.

Don't waste your $$$ on the best vice money can buy: You'll NEVER use it.





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FALARAK
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Posted: 9/30/2012 1:48:31 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/30/2012 1:49:18 PM EST by FALARAK]
Originally Posted By Dehammer:
Originally Posted By FALARAK:
Yes, you should spend $500 on a vise, because a $50 "might" break.



Yes, you should. It is better to gain from spending $500 than it is to lose from spending $50. It is just too damn expensive to be cheap.

I've had a Wilton for 12 years, never a problem, it will out live me.


I guess this comes down to user application and experiences. I bought my $59 vise in 2002, so that's been 10 years. Still 100% and hasn't missed a beat. My family owned and ran a machine shop all my life. There - we used heavy duty models. My $59 vise would not hold up in the shop. But it absolutely does everything I have ever need it to do at home, and I use it monthly. Mostly to hold AR uppers, but for some light welding, pounding on the anvil, bending shit, straightening shit, ball joints, u-joints, light press work..... For me - a $500 vise would be a joke, and money wasted.

I also don't drive a Mercedes, nor are all my tools Snap On.
Sorry about the mayonnaise, guys.
krpind
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Posted: 9/30/2012 1:48:55 PM EST
I recently bought the cheap Craftsman for my home workbench and then carried it back as soon as I opened it and bought the more expensive one.

I think it was 60 vs$109. The $100 plus one seems like it will be OK for working at home. The $60 seems cheap.

I broke 4 or 5 vises at my business before getting one given to me by a friend. He is one of those guys that goes to auctions and buys and resells stuff for a living. He got it for me at an auction. I can't even remember the name of it, but it has been through about 18 years and 3 moves and is still on the same bench I mounted it on way back when. It is beat to shit, but still works like new.

I'm shocked that those Harbor Freight vises sell at all. I broke 2 of them before giving up and I broke them by simply tightening them up really tight. It just broke the cast.
ARFCOM.....Time well wasted.

Originally Posted By Keith_J:

Just remember to pay it forward. If someone is in need, do something positive.
setlab
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Posted: 9/30/2012 1:48:58 PM EST
Originally Posted By Dehammer:
Originally Posted By FALARAK:
Yes, you should spend $500 on a vise, because a $50 "might" break.



Yes, you should. It is better to gain from spending $500 than it is to lose from spending $50. It is just too damn expensive to be cheap.

I've had a Wilton for 12 years, never a problem, it will out live me.


Yep, though $500 might be a bit more vice than the average shop that doesn't get used very often. You will regret skimping on tools to save some cash if you actually use them. It's kind of like buying a cheap rifle scope at Walmart for $30 vs a nicer brand like Leopold, there is a night and day difference.
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