Best Wilton Vise for shop work?
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  1. #1
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    Default Best Wilton Vise for shop work?

    I'm looking at purchasing a Wilton vise for general mechanic and machine shop use. Pretty much have to order one as they are high enough priced that none of the local shops have one you can look at. I was wondering what everyone's experience had been with these vises and which model is the nicest to use for general work. I was looking at a 600S or model C3. I'll include links to Northern's catalog for pics. Need something that is heavy duty and well made without being clumsy and awkward to use. Any thoughts?

    Wilton Pipe & Bench Vise — 6in. Jaw Width, Model# C-3 | Bench Vises| Northern Tool + Equipment

    Wilton Serrated Machinist Bench Vise — 6in. Jaw Width, Swivel Base, Model# 600S | Bench Vises| Northern Tool + Equipment


    Thanks,
    Chris

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    Do you really need a 6" vise? I'm using a Wilton 450N and find it's suitable for most things I work on that aren't big enough to get tacked to the welding table. Vise is mounted to the corner of a bench and I don't miss a swivel at all; in fact, I think I like it better rigidly mounted.

    If you work with pipe (or really rough work on rounds), you don't want the machinist bullet style.

    As for ordering, you might have a look at the Jet/Wilton online store at CPO Outlets. Sometimes they have a reasonable discount on selected Wilton vises.

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    I had a 6" Wilton #1760 and a 4.5" #450S that came to me in near simultaneous transactions. After mulling both I thought the 450S was a better choice for me. I took a couple pictures before I sold the #1760. Don't know which would serve you better, both were nice vises and operated equally well. Some pics that might help you:

    BTW... the 4.5" #450S was about 3 lbs heavier and opened a bit wider than the 6" #1760. Both were made about 1980 give or take a couple years.




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    I have a vise available, it's not very heavy, but it's adequate for the usual jobs of breaking loose a fastener and using a hacksaw.

    I can't help but think a big, beefy vise would tempt me to abuse some principle of carefully assessing a task before "attacking" it

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    I have a 6 inch wilton bullet vise. Get the biggest darn thing you can afford then you will need the mother of all tables to attach it to. I have a massive steel table it weighs a couple thousand pounds and I have two of them on it, wouldnt want the table to look unbalanced.

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    My take would be to have a strong and heavy vise for such tasks as bending, light chipping, rough press fits, and the like. Something like the Wilton 450 being considered by the OP would be stronger than the alternative. I'd suggest making up special wide jaws to allow long items to clear the vise and be clamped vertically. Naturally something even larger would be better for those who need and can afford it -- with a strong enough bench to match the vise.

    As for the pipe jaws, pipe vises are even better. Personally I like using a pair of them to securely hold long runs of pipe. Mine are attached to base plates and held in the jaws of two beefy wood vises attached to a 14' long bench. It's a good setup for someone who rarely needs to cut and thread pipe (since the pipe vises are stored out of the way underneath), but wants a rigid setup to handle pipe up to 2" or more. I've tried my portable Ridgid pipe threader with a regular machinist/pipe vise and it simply doesn't do a very good job. A long length of pipe tends to sag and turn, and is clamped too high for the safest or easiest use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kpotter View Post
    I have a 6 inch wilton bullet vise. Get the biggest darn thing you can afford then you will need the mother of all tables to attach it to.
    What he said. I originally had a Sears Craftsman 4.5" vise on my workbench. After mounting the Wilton 450S it was clear my workbench was not worthy. Had to do some bracing, reinforcements, and bolting to the concrete wall to get the workbench up to the task.

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    I have two Wilton C-0 vises, one with aluminum soft jaws mounted on my rollaway, and the other on my fab table. Been plenty of vise for my needs. The one on my rollaway has been there nearly 30 years, and gets used almost every day. I got tired of having to chase down a vise across the shop when I was working in job shops. So I mounted my first Wilton C-0 vise on my rollaway, and it's stayed there even when I started my own shop. It seems odd that a vise is not more common on ones toolbox.

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    Holy shit those are expensive vises... damn.

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    I bought a new 600-S from the Enco sale flyer a decade ago, and while it seemed WAY too big when I first got it, I can't imagine living without it now! I made seven-inch wide soft jaws for it right away:



    Sure, it was expensive, but like other good tools, it's well worth whatever I paid for it - by now, I've forgotten how much.



    Here's some more on how I use the vise:

    HomeShopTech


    Cheers,

    Frank Ford

    HomeShopTech FRETS.COM

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Ford View Post
    I bought a new 600-S from the Enco sale flyer a decade ago, and while it seemed WAY too big when I first got it, I can't imagine living without it now! I made seven-inch wide soft jaws for it right away:



    Sure, it was expensive, but like other good tools, it's well worth whatever I paid for it - by now, I've forgotten how much.



    Here's some more on how I use the vise:

    HomeShopTech


    Cheers,

    Frank Ford

    HomeShopTech FRETS.COM
    It is likely many readers will not bother to click on Frank's link to his page where he shows his vise mods. If they do not look at that page they are missing an amazing demonstration of some extremely creative and useful ways to employ their vises whether they be a Wilton (like mine) or some other brand. Even a POS vise's utility could be greatly improved using Frank's ideas. Once again, thank you Frank for sharing more of your excellent ideas.

    Denis

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    Here is a cellphone picture of a big Wilton vise at a power plant maintenance building welding shop I was in the other day. It's pretty good size.

    vise.jpg



    While I'm posting- here is their power hacksaw. They said they rescued it from the plants machine shop. The machine shop was being disbanded and this was going to go byebye, so they confiscated it. Can't find any name on it anywhere.


    hacksaw.jpg

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    I have a Wilton 500S on a workbench in an all-around mechanic shop. It is a very nice size, but it ends up a little tall. The bench is at the proper height, but the top of the jaws is 10" taller. Great for taking a good look at the parts in the vise, not so good for working on them.

    I have a Wilton 600S mounted on another bench. The jaw height is 12" over the bench. That bench puts the top of the jaws at the proper height for working, but the rest of the bench is to low for anything other than storage.

    The OP hasn't described what size of general mechanic work he is doing. For car or pickup type work, I prefer a 4 1/2 or 5" vise. If general mechanic work starts with a D6 Caterpillar and goes up from there, a 6" or 8" is more appropriate. Same thing for machine shop work. If a Bridgeport sized workpiece is standard, a 4 1/2 or 5" vise would be a good match.

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    Chris --

    Why Wilton? If "I want an American-made vise" is your answer, I'll suggest you consider Milwaukee, Reed, and Yost also.

    John

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    Thanks for all the good thoughts. They are pricy, which is why I want some input before investing in one. Things like height and versatility are the type of info I'm looking for from people that have used them. As far as work, I do everything from lawn mowers to heavy dirt moving equipment. Sometimes I need a heavy vice, but want to be able to hold smaller pieces without it being awkward. And yes,my bench is heavy enough. It is 20 feet long with a 3/8 inch top and weighs 2,500 lbs. So with that additional info I'd appreciate any more thoughts. Why wilton? Guess I like the name. Are there any downsides to a 6 inch vise when working on smaller pieces. I do some pipe, but have a ridgid pipe vise for that. Thanks, Chris

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Epping View Post
    . . .. Are there any downsides to a 6 inch vise when working on smaller pieces. . .
    Each vise will have a sort of feel to it; a combination of weight, closeness of fit, parallelism of the jaws, wear to the screw, etc. For small stuff you want something that closes precisely with just a bit of initial effort while you get things in place; while not complaining if you then need to crank it down. Chances are you're much more likely to find the first part of that in a good quality (Wilton, Yost, Columbian, Starrett, Eclipse, etc. etc.) vise around 4" size than whatever 200# beasts may be available and affordable on the used market.

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    Two identical vises spread apart on your work bench are pretty nice for holding long stuff. Take a look at Yost - they make some nice heavy duty vises.

  20. Default

    "Those vices are expensive" So a vice that weighs 156 pounds sells for $1076.00 at Northern tools. Let's LOOK at this for a second and really figure out ARE they expensive.
    Compared to buying used machine tools for pennies on the dollar, yes they are expensive, but making something NEW in America, they're NOT. No matter what, these days material
    costs are in the mix. Even in a relatively simple vice there's several castings. Lets be generous and figure $1.50 a pound for the raw components. So $234.00 before ANY machine work is done.
    Don't forget the cost to transport raw materials from foundry to the plant that machines the vice. I ship my castings over three hundred miles and freight adds at least another 30 cents a pound to my cost

    So then they have to machine several pieces, make the jaws etc. Then of course Northern gets a discount from list price so they can sell the vice and make a few bucks. Take away the raw material cost,
    and the markup from the retailer, and all of a sudden Wilton is NOT making an expensive vice. It's just what it has to be, so they don't LOSE money on each one.

    Taking the raw castings and turning them into a useful product doesn't happen instantly. Vices are relatively simple but still there's some work involved and some tolerances that must be met.
    Even something as simple as painting, so the vice looks new and pretty, takes time and costs money. Certainly they probably paint before they machine their castings, but something so mundane
    as painting still takes time and adds cost to a product. We're so used to so many products selling for almost the cost of raw materials, , that when someone charges ANY labor to make something, it seems expensive.

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    Before paying that for a new Wilton, I'd really be tempted to look on CL or Ebay for some good used ones. The Wiltons are almost indestructible. A good used one with a little paint and you'll have a new one again.

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    You can buy a decent used Bridgeport for the money they want for the vise.

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