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Discussion Starter #1
Was looking at a craftsman 5" and read that they don't make replacement jaw faces. I want to get one I can pass on to my son, so I don't want to skimp for a change. Suggestions for a quality brand please? Something like was made in the 50's and 60's in the usa preferred if existent. Thanks.
 

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I had a Craftsman in my home shop for years then in my business shop until it just locked up on me during some hard use. Went shopping for a new one and like you, wanted one to pass on to my son. I spent about 300-350 on a Wilton. It was not their top of the line but is made here. I always thought a vise was a vise. Man was I wrong. The jaws are replaceable but the main improvement is the closing. No matter how far to the edge and no matter how hard you clamp, the jaws stay parallel and tight. There's no side to side wobble. The old adage, you get what you pay for, holds true.
 

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Choosing a new bench vise is probably more complicated today than it was years ago. Something you might want to consider is buying a used vise. I have a 4" Columnbian Vise that I bought 40+ years ago and it was used when I bought it. Today it still serves me well. A quality vise will last for generations if it is not abused. Stay away from cast iron or cast steel vises, they don not have the strength of a forged vise. Cast iron and cast steel have great compressive strength but much less tensile strength. many cast vises end up broken right behind the movable jaw.

Since Cheap Chinese imports started flooding the market old trusted names can no longer be trusted as they once were. For marketing purposes old respected companies like Wilton have added cheap vises to their lineup in order to remain competitive. These days just because a tool has a well recognized and respected name doesn't necessarily mean quality.

Expect a quality vise to be fairly expensive, even old used ones. In fact, high quality old used vises in good condition may command higher prices. It's still a case of you get what you pay for. If you consider an older used vice Columbian and Wilton are good names. At one time there was a company in Poland, Atco Rapid vise, that made a decent vise at a lower price. I sold several of them back when I had a tool truck but I doubt they are still in business. My dad has one that he's had for decades and it still works well. If you find a Japanese made vise from the 1960's era it will likely be of good quality. If you must buy an import generally speaking Taiwan's products are superior to Chinese although I don't know of a Taiwanese bench vise off hand.

I read that Yost makes a forged vise but I am not experienced with them. Wilton probably still makes a forged vise as well.

If you decide to look for a used vise you may come across a jewel on Craigslist or eBay, but if the owner knows what he has the price will still be high. When shopping for a used vise look for excess backlash in the screw, chipped or broken jaws, hacksaw tracks, weld splatter, brazed or welded repairs covered with paint, damage to the anvil behind the fixed jaw and damage to the slide of the movable jaw. Although most vises come with an "anvil" hammering on a vise in not good practice, particularly no hammering should be done on the slide. Minor hacksaw tracks or dings in the anvil may help you talk the price down while doing little harm to the vise. Damaged jaws can be replaced and damage can be prevented by not tightening the jaws against each other. Most vise jaws are hard unless they have been replaced with soft jaws and putting hard steel against hard steel is a good way to chip or crack the jaws.

Whatever you do don't go cheap. Buy a forged vise.

This looks like a nice Polish Atco Rapid vise:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Atco-100-Rapid-Machinist-Swivel-Bench-Vise-Made-in-Poland/143202258920?hash=item2157850fe8:g:ff8AAOSwrQxbCD6h

Here's a Columbian much like mine but mine is in better condition:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Columbian-No-604-Vise-Cleveland-O/362638108743?hash=item546eea6847:g:3lIAAOSwGJ5cyu0X
 

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I know you already got a vise but I thought you might be interested in this video by one of my favorite video makers. It's new and just a little late for you.

 

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Discussion Starter #8
This Wilton was made in Taiwan from what I have read. Should work well with my occasional use. The USA made ones are triple the cost, but worth it for everyday use I would guess. The oiler on that video reminded me of the one I inherited from my Father as shown. Made in the USA, and half a century + some old.
 

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99% of the time things made in Taiwan are superior to things made in China. That vies will probably serve you well. That oiler is probably a collector's item worth more today than when it was bought new.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Was looking at some jaw inserts and the prices start about $40. Heck, I paid $80 for the whole thing. Starting to feel like I have another Polaris in the garage. lol. Going to use the Brides dish towels I suppose.
 

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Depending upon what kind of jaw inserts you want you might consider making your own. For example, if you want some soft jaws some thick aluminum angle can be cut to length, a couple of indentations drilled into the back side where the aluminum angle would touch the original vise jay and a couple of neodymium magnets epoxied into the indentations to hold the laluminum jaws on your original jaws. The same thing can be done to make some hardwood jaws. Simply take a piece of hardwood of your choosing, maybe Oak, Dogwood, Locust, Lignumvite or other, cut a rabbit in the wood so it be3comes an angle, glue in magnets and you're off and running. You can do the same with copper, or build a mold of wood and pour your own lead jaws made of wheel weights. Just add a couple extra magnets to compensate for the weight. Jaws made like this are easy to put on and take off or replace when worn out.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Wood would be great. Not sure how to align the grain. Tire was my first thought but not thick enough for magnets. Aluminum with button magnets and one of those sporty hand towels.
 

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Align grain lengthwise with the jaws of the vise, and use close grained hardwood. Another option is HDPE like that found in a cutting board or POM (Delrin). If you use thicker material you can even cut a "V" notch in it for holding round materials. There's lots of options and your imagination is the limit to possibilities.
 
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