Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Vices of Vises

The scene: Waking up 6 hours after a 16 hour whirlwind journey with my fiance Katie and two of our friends to Pittsburgh and back to see the Misfits play.

This morning I did my morning craigslist check to see if there is anything on my wishlist for sale. I found a post vise for sale! Only about an hour drive away and right at my personal top of the budget limit of 100 bucks. I left a voice mail and the seller called back about 20 minutes later. He said he had a bunch of interest from Lancaster, PA, but no one was willing to come down yet.

Of course I drove right back out I-70, right where I was twice in the last 24 hours and I bought it.

Based on the craigslist pictures, its frame and jaws looked to be in great condition but the screw mechanism looked more than a bit shady... It is obviously not the original screw, but it looks like it may be an old repair. These jaws open all the way to 12 inches and maybe more - kind of crazy.



When I got there, I met the seller Bryan at one of his two large garages. He apparently does furniture restoration and is a sheet metal and auto body work hobbyist. I checked out the vise, and I'm fairly certain that it is indeed not the original screw andthat it was repaired a fairly long time ago. It may not be pretty, but it is functional and the jaws and frame are very nice, The jaws are not perfectly parallel, but they are lined up right vertically and will work for my needs.

He showed me some of the neat finds he's made over the years. He has an immense 6 or 8 foot sheet metal brake rated to 12 ga metal and convertible from a finger brake to a leaf brake, and  a Pullmax universal sheet metal machine that dwarfs anything I've ever seen for sheet metal work. To use an SAT analogy:   Hammer and anvil:power hammer::english wheel:Pullmax.

He also showed off a free anvil he saved from his buddy's shop and a neat small cone mandrel on a square shaft that is either a hardy tool or the top of a multi-part floor mandrel.

He promised to let me know of any other blacksmithing finds he makes and I'll keep my eyes out for antique sheet metal hand tools as he collects them.

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