#9 Buffalo Bench Vise
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    Default #9 Buffalo Bench Vise

    I'm not sure if this is the correct forum for this...............and if not, maybe someone with the authority to move it would do so.

    I have a beautiful #9 Buffalo Bench Vise in extremely good condition, with original paint. Jaws measure 9 1/2" and only have slight surface rust. Don't know the weight without taking it off my bench, but I think I'd get a hernia doing it. I have recently gotten into blacksmithing as a hobby and am finding it difficult to afford some of the items required. This vise has been bolted onto my work table for 20 years and pretty much unused. I'd like to sell it, but have no idea it's worth. I've searched the Internet until I'm blue in the face and the only reference to one is the thread I started on the blacksmithing forum I frequent.

    p3521650189-2.jpg

    Can anyone give me an idea what a vise this large and in this condition might be worth? It's a true beast.

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    The first thing that is going to be asked is it a castiron casting or is it cast steel?

    JH

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    It is a good chance that the vise is a Chinese product. The lines or design of the vise are commonly used on Chinese vises- which took their lead from British made vises. The Chinese are great hands at seizing on a "traditional" US name to make people think their products are made by "old line" US manufacturers. Buffalo on the vise is a play on the old Buffalo Forge Company's name. Chinese slap US names on machine tools and power tools and hand tools as a routine thing.

    A US made vise with 9 1/2" wide jaws such as Reed or Athol would need a block and tackle or a couple of strong men to pick up and move. Your vise does not look to have near that much iron in it. I have a 4 1/2" Columbia swivel base machinist's vise, and it weighs a good 60 + pounds. An old Athol 4 1/2" fixed-base machinist vise also weighs in that same range. I've seen and looked over the Chinese machinist vises and no way are they anywhere near as heavily built as a traditional US machinist vise. I don't doubt that if you were to unbolt the Buffalo vise from the bench and try lifting it, you probably would not have 100 pounds of iron there.

    As for worth, it's a matter of who wants it. I've seen and used some of the Chinese vises and would not go out of my way for one. I'd take a beat up US made vise like a Reed, Athol, Prentiss, Parker, Morgan, or similar over it any day. Chances are the Buffalo vise was sold off one of those travelling tool sales trucks that shows up like a medicine show, making out that they have real good tools at bargain prices. Sort of like Harbor Freight on wheels. Sorry to not be encouraging about the vise, but the photo says it all.

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    No offense taken. That's why I'm asking. Okay, I'll get it off the bench and check the weight. That will at least prove/disprove your opinion. Thanks.

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    Joe,

    I just took the vise off the bench to put it on my scale. My scale only goes up to 70 pounds and that vise hit bottom like it was headed to China. Glad I let it down easily.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris623 View Post
    Joe,

    I just took the vise off the bench to put it on my scale. My scale only goes up to 70 pounds and that vise hit bottom like it was headed to China. Glad I let it down easily.
    Put it on bathroom scale. Maybe need some wood spacers if it has a handle in the middle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris623 View Post
    Joe,

    I just took the vise off the bench to put it on my scale. My scale only goes up to 70 pounds and that vise hit bottom like it was headed to China. Glad I let it down easily.
    I pretty much agree with the previous estimates but there is a possibility of something else. When Poland was coming out from the strangulation they produced heavy products for the free market. Their unnamed lathe chucks were particularly good for their price and years later known as Bison. Your vise appears later and may be China but can't really say. Some of those popular swivel jaw vices were made in Poland before China copied them.
    When you moved your vise to the scale, you should have removed the whole jaw beam from the unit and weighed them separate. One could see the relative slop of the screw and nut and note the quality of fit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris623 View Post
    No offense taken. That's why I'm asking. Okay, I'll get it off the bench and check the weight. That will at least prove/disprove your opinion. Thanks.
    the weight alone will NOT establish the quality of the item.

    also, Bison was FPU before it was Bison, but I don't think it was ever "no name"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris623 View Post

    I have a beautiful #9 Buffalo Bench Vise in extremely good condition, I have recently gotten into blacksmithing as a hobby and am finding it difficult to afford some of the items required. This vise has been bolted onto my work table for 20 years and pretty much unused. I'd like to sell it, but have no idea it's worth. I've searched the Internet until I'm blue in the face and the only reference to one is the thread I started on the blacksmithing forum I frequent.

    beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but very few beholders here would describe it as that. original paint on a vise? who cares.

    If you are getting into blacksmithing, why the hell are you trying to sell it? just use it.

    It is most definitely not some kind of a gold mine that will fund your new hobby, and a blacksmith needs good visES, so you'r not making much sense here.

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    Well, I just put it on a bathroom scale (well DUH!) and it weighs exactly 100 pounds.

    You can't pound on a cast vise. But I have a blacksmiths leg vise that is forged and you can pound on that thing all day. So I have little use for this big thing...........and as previously mentioned, have seldom used it over the 20 years I've owned it. I learned a long time ago "If you don't use it........sell it!"

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    You will want to shoot yourself if you try to use your post vise for anything other than hammering on. That is the only job it will really shine doing. I do a fair amount of smithing and use the bench vises way more than the leg vises. Realize the leg vise jaws do not stay parallel to each other as it opens and closes since the moving jaw moves in an arc. (I dont think you have a double screw leg vise) The bench vise will open farther and grip things way better than the post vise, keep it until you get a better one. The best thing about the leg vises it they look cool but for sure are not the "end all- be all" in vise world.

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    I'm with Rob on this. The further you get into blacksmithing, the more you'll need a good bench vise. At some point you have to stop pounding on stuff and start figuring out how to put the parts together.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris623 View Post
    Jaws measure 9 1/2"
    (everyone knows vises are rated by jaw width, don't they?)... I doubt that's the width of the jaws. I doubt they even open up that much, are you measuring the overall depth or something?
    if they were, 100 lbs would make it the lightest 9 1/2" bench vise ever made.

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    I guess you can doubt if you like.
    p3521650231-2.jpg

    While I don't have a picture of it, I know the jaws open 10 7/8".
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails p1020752-half.jpg  

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    Thanks for the informed suggestions to keep the vise, guys. I hadn't really given much thought to the fact the leg vise jaws don't close exactly parallel and this one might prove useful until I can purchase one with a better 9 1/2" jawed vise.

    Here's the 50 pound, 4" jaw leg vise I recently picked up to get started with my new hobby.

    p3522434229-2.jpg

    Thanks for all the comments.

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    I'm surprised no one on here remembers the Buffalo line of very cheap and very low quality China tools sold about everywhere in the late '70's and into the later '80's. Drill presses, the small 6-7" Horiz. bandsaws, air tools, etc. One discount department store locally sold the stuff only around Christmas time. I don't remember any bench vises that weighed 100lbs tho. I do remember C clamps and Drill Press vises made of cast iron so brittle it snapped like glass.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dkmc View Post
    I'm surprised no one on here remembers the Buffalo line of very cheap and very low quality China tools sold about everywhere in the late '70's and into the later '80's. Drill presses, the small 6-7" Horiz. bandsaws, air tools, etc. One discount department store locally sold the stuff only around Christmas time. I don't remember any bench vises that weighed 100lbs tho. I do remember C clamps and Drill Press vises made of cast iron so brittle it snapped like glass.
    I agree. When the owner separated the jaw beam from the vise, span/capacity should be noted as when the screw and nut have full thread contact or very close. I don't care how wide it opens with only a thread or two.

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    Chris23:

    Hats off to you for being a good sport about my reply to your post.


    As for vise jaw width being "non standard" (at least by US practice), it may well be a metric jaw width. Your vise looks as though it were designed for mounting on a swivel base, given the shape of the base flange and bolt hole locations. The design follows more of the English or European machinist bench vise design rather than US designs.

    I agree with the posts about leg vises vs machinist vises. I have both. The leg vise is for smithing work such as hot bending, chisel/splitting work, hot rasping and hot twisting to name a few uses. As noted, the jaws do not close parallel, so getting a real good "bite" on work for things like tapping, filing, chipping (done cold with a hammer and cold chisel or cape chisel) you will find the work will move in the jaws. The leg vises are great for smithing, but really are not so good for "cold
    work" or finer machinist work. I also learned many years ago that when I tried to turn a frozen nut off a bolt held in the leg vise, it popped out of the jaws- the hex flats having what amounted to "line contact" with the non-parallel jaws. Any movement that wiggled the hex flats in the jaws resulted in the nut or bolt head climbing right up out of the jaws. For smithing work, the tendency is to drive the work downwards more often than not. Since the jaws are non-parallel with the larger opening at the top, driving work downward in a leg vise will tend (at least in theory) to wedge it tighter in the jaws. Jobs like filing work will tend to pull the work up and out of the jaws.

    A type of smithing that comes in handy, for which a leg vise is ideal is "hot rasping". Using a hoof rasp on red-hot steel, a surprisingly quick amount of shaping can be done. You would not want to put red hot steel in a good machinist vise with hardened steel jaw plates. A lot of smiths get worn hoof rasps from farriers if they do not have them already. The force of hot rasping is usually not sufficient, nor is it done long enough to rock or pull the work up out of the jaws of a leg vise.

    My leg vise is mounted on its own stand. I had a chunk of 4" scrap steel pipe, a large "blind" pipe flange ( a disc of steel with the bolt circle drilled in it, but no hole for connection to a pipe), and some 3/4" steel plate pieces that were about 12" x 12". I combined these pieces to make a stand for my leg vise. The 4" pipe is capped with a 12" x 12" x 3/4" steel plate at each end, making it a column. The top plate is drilled & tapped for bolts to mount the leg vise. The bottom plate is drilled for 3/4" diameter bolts. The blind flange is drilled & tapped 3/4"-10 UNC so that the bottom plate of the column bolts solidly onto it. The bottom end of the vise leg (which will usually have a collar on it) fits into a "socket"- a piece of 1" steel stock drilled for a good fit with the bottom of the vise leg. After the vise was bolted solidly to the top plate, I used the leg to position that "socket" piece and welded it to the blind flange. The result is the leg vise is married solidly to the stand. I move the vise and its stand with a hand truck or pick it up with my tractor (boom pole on the 3 point hitch) and put the vise/stand where I want it.

    A leg vise's jaws are designed for accessability and work you could not hold handily or effectively in a regular machinist vise will often be better in a leg vise. Smithing work is often on longer pieces of work with some bends in them, while the machinist vise is more for smaller work.

    Each vise has its uses. There is some overlap in what each vise can do, but for smithing and hot work, use the leg vise.

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    Thanks for the thorough explanation between the two. I'm certainly familiar with the ways to use the leg vise and it's purpose and how it differs from my bench vise. Just hadn't considered that I'd still likely need the bench vise. I'm sure it's nowhere near the quality of a Wilton or the like, but it'll do what I need.........I have no doubt. I've been around shop tools all my life. (owned a plastic manufacturing business with an in-house machine shop) I learned a long time ago that you purchase tools to do what you need...............not necessarily what you might need them to do some day. It may not live up to the standards of many on this forum, but the Buffalo vise does what I need. If the time comes I need something else, I'll go that route.

    Thanks for all the comments about the 9" Buffalo. I've absorbed all of them. You've all brought up some interesting points.

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    Chris:

    You are correct on your thinking. If the Buffalo vise hold work solidly so you can do what you need, that is all that matters. I liken it to people who spend tens of thousands of dollars on re-doing a bathroom. If you have a cheap stall shower, sink, and working toilet bought at the yard sales and piped up, the end result is the same as for the person who dropped a bundle to build a bathroom with fancy fixtures, imported marble, etc.

    The main thing in my book is to put your tools to use and get work done with them. I joke that I am not running a museum, and that my machine tools are not meant to be "pickled" (put up for preservation). You've got the right philosophy.


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