bench vise recommendation

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PoeticalDeportment
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bench vise recommendation

Post by PoeticalDeportment » Sun Sep 02, 2018 5:06 pm

I have an indoor workbench (no welding), for which I would like to buy a bench vise. I have no background in anything that would help me be an informed purchaser or user of such an item. I don't really run in circles of people that know about this either. However, I thought "surely there is someone out there in Boglehead land who could offer some good advice."

I am open to suggestions, but I am currently considering one of the following options:

1. Yost FSV-5 (forged steal, made in Taiwan) This would have all of the capability I would ever need. This is smaller than the other two options by quite a bit. Price new $184 on Amazon.
2. 6 inch Paramo Bench Vise (Made in England) Excellent condition. I think this one is cool (somewhat antique-ish). I lived in England for a while, so there's that. Two downsides: 1) no anvil-type striking surface 2) no dedicated pipe-jaws. Price used through local classifieds $160
3. Wilton C2 bullet vise (Made in USA) If one of my lucky great-great grandchildren isn't still using this one, I would be disappointed. Definitely not the value proposition, but I can find one locally, used in 'very nice" condition for $800.

I am somewhat torn between just getting something functional for small projects, and getting something with more character/heirloom appeal (I know some people collect bench vises - I will probably never be one of these people, but I still want to make a good purchase).

If there is something else I should be considering, I would love to hear any advice.

Thanks

Teague
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Re: bench vise recommendation

Post by Teague » Sun Sep 02, 2018 5:11 pm

So no welding, blacksmithing, not a farrier, just small projects around the house? Sounds like a Harbor Freight special is all you really need, no?
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bob60014
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Re: bench vise recommendation

Post by bob60014 » Sun Sep 02, 2018 5:26 pm


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Sandtrap
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Re: bench vise recommendation

Post by Sandtrap » Sun Sep 02, 2018 5:29 pm

Harbor Freight removable vice that clamps to the tabletop.
Inexpensive.
Does the job.
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Jack FFR1846
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Re: bench vise recommendation

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Sun Sep 02, 2018 6:02 pm

Not Harbor freight, not made in the far east. I've got an old American made vice that's never disappointed. Holds up to abuse and regular beatings. I have a second vice in the garage. I tend to fall for the cheap far east junk or the sale I can't pass up at harbor freight. I always regret it and I've broken every one of them. I do sell my scrap steel, so I get 10 cents a pound for these pieces of crap after they break multiple ways.
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gmc4h232
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Re: bench vise recommendation

Post by gmc4h232 » Sun Sep 02, 2018 6:10 pm

WILTON!

Keep an eye out on Craigslist. You should be able to find a nice older one for less than $400

Recently bought a nice 450sj at auction for 250. Sold for 800 on eBay. So it can be done

TOJ
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Re: bench vise recommendation

Post by TOJ » Sun Sep 02, 2018 6:27 pm

I bought the yost 445 on amazon 3 years ago and it’s been great in my very light duty use.

You could also peruse craigslist for an old USA vise and restore it. Would be a fun project and have a lifetime vise when you’re done.

onmyway33
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Re: bench vise recommendation

Post by onmyway33 » Sun Sep 02, 2018 6:30 pm

The Craftsman bench vise line is fairly solid and less than $100. Same price as Harbor Freight, and perhaps better quality. I have the 4" vise (circa 2005) bolted to my home basement workbench, and it has never failed me. They appear to be on sale right now, and I may pick up another for my garage workbench. It may not be passed down to my grand children, but should be in good shape at least for my son. Keep it dry, oiled, and address any signs of rust, and it will look good for years. I hear that some of them may be made overseas now-a-days, so it may be good to see one in person to verify the quality.

https://www.sears.com/search=bench%20vise

Be sure to get some rubber jaw pads so you don't mar whatever you are holding.

I am an Amazon customer, but for some reason buying a bench vise on Amazon doesn't seem wise to me.

gmc4h232
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Re: bench vise recommendation

Post by gmc4h232 » Sun Sep 02, 2018 7:30 pm

Please don’t buy HF or other Chinese junk vise. Craftsman likely falls into this category these days.

Buy you a nice vintage piece of American iron.
Here is a short list of quality older American vises:
Wilton
Prentiss
Columbian
Yost
Reed
Parker

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PoeticalDeportment
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Re: bench vise recommendation

Post by PoeticalDeportment » Sun Sep 02, 2018 9:40 pm

gmc4h232 wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 7:30 pm
Please don’t buy HF or other Chinese junk vise. Craftsman likely falls into this category these days.

Buy you a nice vintage piece of American iron.
Here is a short list of quality older American vises:
Wilton
Prentiss
Columbian
Yost
Reed
Parker
The Wilton C2 (made in USA) is my preference. I want to find a good deal on a used one, but the current price I have available to me is not really that alluring. The new price is categorically more than I am willing to pay. I may end up getting an inexpensive one for my current needs and searching the classifieds (probably for a couple of years) for the one I really want at a better price.

gmc4h232
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Re: bench vise recommendation

Post by gmc4h232 » Sun Sep 02, 2018 10:20 pm

What jaw width and opening capacity are you looking for? 5” & 7” respectively hence the C2? And do you have to have the pipe clamp? C2’s are massive (100 lbs) and as you know big money. Probably why I haven’t seen any used ones in my travels. 800 is probably about right for used.

PS. - your heirs would certainly appreciate a C2 or get top dollar for it if they were to sell it. As long as you or they didn’t abuse it.
Last edited by gmc4h232 on Sun Sep 02, 2018 10:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.

guymontag
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Re: bench vise recommendation

Post by guymontag » Sun Sep 02, 2018 10:31 pm

Not coming from the technical side of it:

If #1 fills the need at the greatest value then why not choose that one?

Are you sure your heirs will appreciate or cherish the tools you’ve used? I’ve seen that situation go both directions. By all means if you want something “nice” then go for it but I would decide first the wants vs needs argument...

gmc4h232
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Re: bench vise recommendation

Post by gmc4h232 » Sun Sep 02, 2018 10:51 pm

guymontag wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 10:31 pm
Not coming from the technical side of it:

If #1 fills the need at the greatest value then why not choose that one?

Are you sure your heirs will appreciate or cherish the tools you’ve used? I’ve seen that situation go both directions. By all means if you want something “nice” then go for it but I would decide first the wants vs needs argument...
It would really depend on what type of watch the OP wears...

CurlyDave
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Re: bench vise recommendation

Post by CurlyDave » Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:03 pm

I have used a Harbor Freight vise for the past 30 years.

Built two houses with my own two hands, a lot of woodwork and some metal work.

Get a cheap vise and see how much you use it. If you want an expensive one after that, go ahead, you won't be out a lot of money. I bet you will decide that the vise you have is "good enough" after a few years.

My experience has been that the most unstable thing about my HF vise is the bench it is attached to. An $800 vise would be no more stable.

MSO4PRN
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Re: bench vise recommendation

Post by MSO4PRN » Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:10 pm

craigslist or HF

could try a swap meet as well

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GK4321
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Re: bench vise recommendation

Post by GK4321 » Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:11 pm

PoeticalDeportment wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 9:40 pm
The Wilton C2 (made in USA) is my preference. I want to find a good deal on a used one, but the current price I have available to me is not really that alluring. The new price is categorically more than I am willing to pay. I may end up getting an inexpensive one for my current needs and searching the classifieds (probably for a couple of years) for the one I really want at a better price.
From what you describe, I recommend a new, decent, inexpensive vise. It will likely suit your needs just fine. Most homeowners don’t need more than a simple, average quality vise.

My father in law collects and restores vintage vises. He would give you the same advice. There’s a whole culture of collectors out there. Pretty easy to overpay if you lack expertise.

That being said, I have a couple really nice vises he has given me over the years. I appreciate them. They are conversation pieces and heirlooms. But they are definitely overkill for the weekend projects I throw at them.

Yooper
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Re: bench vise recommendation

Post by Yooper » Mon Sep 03, 2018 6:53 am

CurlyDave wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:03 pm

My experience has been that the most unstable thing about my HF vise is the bench it is attached to. An $800 vise would be no more stable.
OP - Agreed. To me this is the most important thing, making sure your vise is rock solid. Which means reinforcing an existing workbench, or building one with the idea that the end that will hold the vise and needs to be over engineered. The weakest link in any vise is the bench that supports it.

telecaster
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Re: bench vise recommendation

Post by telecaster » Mon Sep 03, 2018 7:13 am

If you don't need it immediately then I'd keep hunting ebay and craigslist for affordable old USA iron. Check garage sales too. They really can be had for less than the cost of new cheap junk that probably wont make you happy in the long run.

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sunny_socal
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Re: bench vise recommendation

Post by sunny_socal » Mon Sep 03, 2018 7:27 am

Another +1 on harbor freight

whomever
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Re: bench vise recommendation

Post by whomever » Mon Sep 03, 2018 8:40 am

I concur on the solid mounting.

I'd be looking for something that weighs more - maybe 70 pounds or more. Note that this depends on what you use it for. For example, let's say you are hacksawing or filing on a piece of 1 inch pipe or rod or whatever. The saw or file teeth can excite the workpiece/vise combination into resonance, and that's bad for the finish you get and tool life. While a solid bench helps a little, no wooden bench really changes things that much. Extra mass in the vise helps a lot, though.

As far as USA/Import/HF/etc, it depends. The old Columbians etc are great vises. I dunno where they are made now. Imports are all over the map. The Chinese/Taiwanese can make good stuff, or absolute dreck. Vises aren't exactly rocket science.

I have a pair of old ones sort of like these:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CBL62HQ
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B015NI2CQS

that are great. No name imports from a big box store 25 odd years ago, but I got to see them before buying.

I also have an old US made Wilton, and a 35 year old Craftsman. They are fine fine, but no better. I have seen both good ones and junk from, say, Harbor Freight.

Buy the vise before the bench. You don't want the vise jaws to be too high.

" no anvil-type striking surface"
I wouldn't worry about that. None of those make a decent anvil - they don't have a hardened face, and will get dinged up if you try and use them. If you want an improvised anvil just get a piece of scrap.

nerdymarketer
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Re: bench vise recommendation

Post by nerdymarketer » Mon Sep 03, 2018 10:20 am

Check out the GarageJournal.com forums for vise info. For most personal DIY use, a 4" is plenty big, and a 6" is probably too big.

Based on the positive recommendations on GJ, I bought a Yost FSV-5 when Amazon had a sale on them for $95. If you check Amazon's warehouse deals, you can regularly find a Yost FSV 4 for < $100.

Alternatively, if you post on GJ what you're looking for, particularly in the hot deals thread on craigslist, there will often be guys willing to point you toward decent'ish deals. Some areas of the country are better than others. I watched Craigslist for a while before buying my Yost, and in my area all the old American iron vises were super expensive or very beat up.

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