Friday, April 20, 2018

Machine Vises

Well looks like this long winter has thrown off even the bears. Timmins is already having a bear problem. Easier to climb into a dumpster than dig through 3 ft. of snow, ha ha.

I found a nice plan for a welded steel vise, so I thought I'd do a write up on vises. Machine bench vises are often subjected to heavy, rough work. I have found over the years that they are not always made the same and going with the cheaper imports often turns into a lost dollar. A statement like that needs some qualification so here goes.

When it comes to imports quality seems to have taken a hit since China became the dominant player. I have two imports that I purchased back in the early 80's. I have them mounted on mobile 3 legged stands and they have been subjected to huge amounts of abuse, rough handling and over tightening. Never a complaint, they are like the day I bought them. Back then the imports were coming mainly from Taiwan.

Since then my shop space has increased and so has the need for more vises. I have 6 vises mounted around the different shops on benches, (yes I know, overkill ha ha). Importers will go with the cheapest suppliers so when China dominated the market, thats where they came from. Unfortunately they do not hold up to my 2 old imports. Over the years I have destroyed three, a 3", a 4" and the latest a 5", a couple of years ago. Here's whats left of it. The rest got melted, back when I tested my furnace. I now have more small bench anvils than I will ever need, lol. As you can tell from the dimples, the iron is too soft, (Poor metallurgical control??).

If money is no problem, heres one that is industrial quality all the way. Wilton makes a full variety of sizes and types, you couldn't break one of these if you wanted to.

So I am to poor to dish out the kind of money Wilton wants, and I would prefer to avoid the imports, so whats the alternative? Weld your own. I have seen many pictures of guys welding their own over the years and some of them are truly outstanding.

Going through my files I found a plan for a welded vise that looks solid, without complication and made from easily obtained materials. In my case, it wouldn't cost a penny, I have everything required. You can easily size it to suit your needs. Here's the plans.