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  • Wilton Vise Quality

    This Wilton 450 (4.5” jaw width) I have at the shop has been here for a long time and was abused. I installed new jaws for it when I got here. The castings read:
    1101162 on the body
    1101163 S-W on the movable jaw
    made in usa
    Shiller Park ILL 60176

    Stamped on the bottom of the key is: 9 84
    I wonder if that is the date of manufacture.

    I took it apart to clean and oil it. After hearing most people raving about the quality of the old Wiltons for many years and taking this apart I feel like I was sold a bill of goods. The pins that hold the nut in are too long. I felt like a monkey getting them out. The castings look like chinese grade. The nut and screw look like they have some kind of nickel coating like a bolt from ace hardware. It is a little smoother after cleaning and oiling but doesn’t have a feel of high quality when using it. I’m glad I never spent the money for one to have at home.

    I’m looking for a 2.5-3.5” for the home shop. Wilton is out. Any suggestions?
    -Roland
    Golf Course Mechanic

    Bedminster NJ

  • #2
    Fireball Tool Vise.

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    • US Made Total Cost: $3,800 shipping included
    • Taiwan Made Total Cost: $1,800 shipping included


    -Doozer
    DZER

    Comment


    • #3
      Right down the road is a Sears Craftsman Vise.



      Rich
      Green Bay, WI

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      • #4
        The 9 84 on the key is the date the warranty runs out. They have a 5 year warranty.

        Comment


        • #5
          It's tough to find a good one these days. At least not unless you're willing to pay the price for one of those Fireballs.

          The main squeezer in my shop is an old round shaft vise. I've had it since roughly 1988 or 89. A couple of years ago I bought the same style smaller vise that was going to go into the downstairs shop. The jaw on that one rotated a few degrees. I could fix it by making a new key that fits the slot in the lower side of the round part. But in the end I used it on my welding table where the jaw rotation isn't an issue.

          So all in all if I have to buy a vise without being able to personally inspect it I'd rather get a round bar style than a box style. At least with the round style I can fix any issues.

          The lower cost vises CAN be good if they have nice clearances in their makeup. But the very next one might be so loose that it's not even good as a boat anchor. The trick seems to be to find one that meets your standards that is on display. And then insist that you get THAT one. Even if you have to unpack the one you bought and bolt it to their display rack so you get the good one.

          I just had a look on Amazon. You heard of Yost? For what they charge and the degree of fit in the closeups I'm thinking that they are pretty nice!
          Chilliwack BC, Canada

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          • #6
            Wilton's are way overrated, and over priced. Find an older Reed, tough as hell.
            Mike Hunter

            www.mikehunterrestorations.com

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            • #7
              I assumed that anything from Fireball would be extremely nice but cost the world. But for the size you're looking for they offer a very reasonably priced 4" model for just $150US. And it's got gibs and adjustment screws to zero out any jaw play.

              Forgot the link. Click on it and read the reviews. Sounds like great quality for something so reasonable in price.

              Forged Bench Vise (fireballtool.com)
              Chilliwack BC, Canada

              Comment


              • #8
                I had a Craftsman that looked a lot like that for many years. When the rotational lock broke, I replaced it with a Wilton that now sits on my bench. It is at least twice as heavy and five times as good. I am not arguing with the OP's post on Wiltons, I just know I have a good one.

                If Wiltons are out, then I would suggest just buying one from McMaster. They usually have good quality tools (but $$$$$). If you get a swivel base, look for one that goes a full 360 degrees and has TWO lock down bolts. That is one point I love about my Wilton as opposed to the Craftsman.

                McMaster-Carr is the complete source for your plant with over 595,000 products. 98% of products ordered ship from stock and deliver same or next day.


                PS: I repaired the Craftsman's broken swivel lock and it now awaits a bench to be mounted on.

                PPS: I hardly think it is worth that $85 price shown on E-Bay. $45 would be more like it.



                Last edited by Paul Alciatore; 01-24-2023, 05:38 AM.
                Paul A.
                SE Texas

                And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
                You will find that it has discrete steps.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Years ago Boeing Surplus used to sell individual benches each with a Wilton 400 machinist vise. Those vises were bolted solidly to the bench, no swivel. I myself have had a few swivel vises but the swivels would often slip. Now I, like Boeing did, bolt mine solidly, no swivel. Note that nearly all mill vises are bolted down no swivel.

                  I just don't see the value in a vise swivel.

                  metalmagpie

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                  • #10
                    My go to shop vise is a Vanderman No. 3.
                    Not my picture, but mine is exactly the same.
                    Was asking $300. I negotiated down to $150
                    after buying a few other items from the seller.
                    Been using it for about 5 years and it is fabulous.
                    I added a needle thrust bearing on the screw and
                    what a profound difference.

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                    -Doozer
                    DZER

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The swivel bases with the lock on one side…I don’t understand what the manufacturers were thinking, we’re not making dresses. I even ditched my Wilton swivel with opposing locks. Although I miss it occasionally.

                      Since cleaning and oiling my Wilton, it is almost a pleasure to use now. I think my criticisms are still valid.

                      I’m interested in the thrust bearing idea.

                      The 4” Reed I used years ago was indeed worthy. I’m on the lookout for a smaller one which they don’t make anymore.

                      Thank you all for your thoughts.
                      -Roland
                      Golf Course Mechanic

                      Bedminster NJ

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Doozer

                        Awesome vise!

                        A number 3I assume means 3 inch jaws?

                        I have a very soft spot for vintage vises, quite a few have followed me home, but I can only use so many A Reed and a Parker in the shop, three Reeds- mounted in the garage, and a 5 inch Reed mounted to a post on a truck rim that I move around the farm with a tractor.

                        Probably another half dozen or so sitting on a shelf. BUT...my Unicorn is an 8 or 10inch Reed.

                        Mike
                        Last edited by Mike Hunter; 01-24-2023, 10:14 AM.
                        Mike Hunter

                        www.mikehunterrestorations.com

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                        • #13
                          6 inch jaws.

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                          -Doozer
                          Last edited by Doozer; 01-24-2023, 10:23 AM.
                          DZER

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                          • #14
                            Look for a 1950 Craftsman 5 inch machinist vice with 12 " opening for quality , old iron at it's best
                            The swivel is Sturdy, not a piece of crap and the jaw opening makes it into a arbor press.
                            The handle (bar) is slight oval by a few thou and by twisting the handle it locks so no blood blisters
                            Rich

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                            Green Bay, WI

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Rich Carlstedt View Post
                              ....
                              The handle (bar) is slight oval by a few thou and by twisting the handle it locks so no blood blisters
                              Rich
                              Now that's cool!

                              -Doozer
                              DZER

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