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79rex Reader
11/21/20 6:15 p.m.

find the bigest oldest used one you can find.  old vices good vices are truely made best

New York Nick
New York Nick New Reader
11/21/20 7:03 p.m.

I have a Wilton bullet nose. I have had it for over 15 years. I got it fit free with a metal table that was getting tossed. I use it all the time and it's a nice vice but I had no idea they were sought after. I sent a pic of my newly organized work bench to a friend and he told me how hard he has been looking for a the vice.

03Panther Dork
11/21/20 7:12 p.m.

On Craig’s ‘round here, if it ain’t the China junk, they ask several hundred for ‘em. Nuts. 

I know I have to be careful with my China junk... have broken a couple, but not broken a couple also. No techs were hurt  in the failures, due to being careful... I would love to have one I did NOT have to be careful with!

11GTCS HalfDork
11/21/20 7:19 p.m.

My neighbor Charlie told me he got this out of a machine shop.  It says Athol Machine, Athol MA USA on it.   He made me promise that I’d make sure to get it after he passed, tweaked my back lifting it up onto the bench.   I cleaned 100+ years of crud off it, it’ll probably last another 200. smiley   Thanks Chuck, miss you buddy. 

DarkMonohue New Reader
11/21/20 8:20 p.m.
stuart in mn said:

There are a number of people over on the Garage Journal board who are really into collecting vises - there's a 4000 page (!) discussion about them.  It's worth reading through to find out more about favored brands.  https://www.garagejournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=44782

Older Craftsman vises that were made in the US are often pretty good.  Another brand to look for is Athol; they were bought out at some point by Starrett, so look for them, too.  The Wilton 'bullet' vises mentioned above are very good but command a price premium since they're highly desirable, but if you can find one for a good price grab it.

Seconded. Vise worship is real over there. Nice place to pick up knowledge but there are sharks in the water. I lucked into a slightly grimy but otherwise virginal Wilton C1 (similar to a classic bullet style with the addition of pipe jaws) and mentioned it there in what I thought was a comically disparaging manner, and it wasn't long before one of the regional flippers offered to take that rusty old thing off my hands in trade for something significantly less valuable. Maybe my low post count gave off the stench of the turnip truck. Anyway, no thanks.

I did say I lucked into the Wilton; while I like it, I'm not sure I could bring myself to pay the premium a Wilton commands over other vintage vises. As I understand it, the US-made ones are pretty great, and stylish enough to appeal to collectors and tool polishers, but not necessarily the strongest or best built.

Swivel bases are not universally beloved. I like them, but they do introduce more potential slop and another potential breakage point if you're really wailing on it.

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) PowerDork
11/21/20 8:35 p.m.

I recently came by this one  (free , in the trunk of a free Miata!). The nice red base is a replacement part from the manufacturer that still manufactures the vise. It has a swivel base, as well as a second swivel that allows the whole vise to turn and the jaws can be turned through 360 degrees. There are no cast parts, it's all welded construction.

It's made by Milhoff Steel Products in Bloomington, Mn. A new one retails for $500+ so you want to find used for this, or any brand of good vises.

Streetwiseguy MegaDork
11/21/20 8:39 p.m.
Slippery (Forum Supporter) said:

Whichever brand you get, make sure it has a swivel base. 



I cannot disagree more.  A swivel base ruins an otherwise useful tool.

triumph7 Reader
11/21/20 8:46 p.m.

In reply to Slippery (Forum Supporter) :

Was that standard equipment on the PT73?

stuart in mn
stuart in mn MegaDork
11/21/20 9:48 p.m.
11GTCS said:

My neighbor Charlie told me he got this out of a machine shop.  It says Athol Machine, Athol MA USA on it. 


Looks like mine.  smiley


ShawnG UltimaDork
11/22/20 12:19 a.m.

Put me in the "no swivel base" camp as well. I hate the damn things.

11GTCS HalfDork
11/22/20 8:31 a.m.

In reply to stuart in mn :

Yep, that’s it!

pirate HalfDork
11/22/20 12:34 p.m.

Charles Parker Model 974, 63 pounds manufactured in 50's. Paid $40 about twenty years ago. 
put me in the swivel base camp. Vise is mounted in very corner of work bench to accommodate long items vertically and swivel to give best angle for working on things. Doesn't swivel at all when tightened with small wrench built in.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
11/22/20 11:00 p.m.

If I had space where I could mount a fixed, non-swivel vise, then I would agree. But I don't, so a swivel it must be so that when not in use I can actually walk past the bench the vise is mounted on.  Plus, sometimes it's nice to be able to swivel the jaws so the other end of the work piece is on the bench.   In a perfect shop I'd have one of each at opposite ends of the bench. Or at opposite corners of a 1/2" thick steel table that is lagged into the floor...

akylekoz SuperDork
11/23/20 11:28 a.m.

These are my vises, one difference is the thread pitch.  These compared to cheap ones is the pitch and clamping force.  I spent way too much time adding a different nut and threaded shaft to a cheap vise, it did make it better.

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