Old columbian hardware vise
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  1. #1
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    Default Old columbian hardware vise

    Hello to all,
    I am new to this forum and was trying to find out the approximate manufacturing date of an old blacksmith post vise I have aquired.
    It has on it what I can read on the mounting bracket "COLUMBIAN HARDWARE CLEVELAND" in a triangle (with a "C" in the middle of the triangle) and "MADE IN USA" right below the triangle.
    The vise is in excelent condition and I was just wondering about the date of manufacture and approximate worth of the vise.
    Any help would be most appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Please post some photographs of the vise.
    Pay particular attention to mounting bracket, as this was one major area where vise designs evolved.

    Without a photo, my best guess would be 80 - 120 years, leaning to the newer side.

    The basic post vise has been around for hundreds of years and I have personaly used one that is over 200 years old.
    The only thing that seems to ware out is the threads on the clamp screw.

    In general:
    Older brackets tend to be U shaped afairs that flair out into two wings that bolt to the table. The bracket is secured to the vise with a key and wedge system. The mount bracket also secures the spring that opens the vise jaws.

    Later brackets often use a two piece arangement where the U bracket attached to a cast bracket with the companies logo and was tied to the vise with a key and wedge system.

    The newest brackets are just U bolts that clamp a bent an punched mount bracket to the vise.

    Other variations exist, but are not as common.

    Other features that help date vises.
    Look at the leg, is it forge welded at the hinge joint, or are the hinge sides rivited to the leg.
    Is it an open die or closed die forging? (is the forging perfectly symetric, or can you see the hammer blows from the trip hammer when you look closely)
    Does it have a set of pipe jaws, or at least the cut outs for them (newer design)

    Value tends to be reflected in size and condition. 50 to 80 lb vises are probably the most common. Small ones are popular with blacksmiths that do public demonstrations and are less common. Large ones (over 100 lb) are also comand a bit of a premium.

    Personaly, I have about half a dozen of them and gave no more than $15 for any of them, and have some smaller ones and some larger ones. Some needing more TLC than others.

    I have not been in the market for one in about five years. Back then if you can find a complete one with a good screw and nut for $40 to $60 at a garage sale you are doing fine, but thats Oklahoma. Add a few bucks if you actualy have the pipe jaws. They are almost always MIA.

    The low price reflects the fact that they just dont work that well for most shop work and they are relitively common. They are designed for forging hot iron and carying hammer blows to the ground. The jaws swing in an arc and are only paralell in one position. Most also have smooth jaws, no teeth. They will take a heck of a beating for years and years and never flinch, but try to hold anything round in them twist it and they fall flat. The lack of side to side stiffness and jaws that are out of paralell is a poor combination for that type of work. Hammer, chisel or file and they do fine.

  3. #3
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    Sold one a year or so back that was a lighter weight "Columbian", no place of manufacture on it.... (sold it to an artist for $100) I would think the "made in USA" on yours would indicate it is considerably newer.... I have never seen that on a post vise.

    The one I use at the moment has no maker's name or other text on it anywhere. Appears to be forge welded, but that old Columbian also had no rivets etc on it. No text other than the cast-in C on the bracket.

    Both it, and the one I use, are set up with the 2 piece loop and bracket, with wedges to hold the bracket. Convenient, as the wedges can be knocked out and the vise re-set if the foot hole gets loose over the years.

  4. #4
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    I have similar Leg Vise which is stamped "C" on the front and # 10 on the back of the bench support portion. I'm missing the tension spring that goes between the lower part of the vise jaws.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by High Iron View Post
    I have similar Leg Vise which is stamped "C" on the front and # 10 on the back of the bench support portion. I'm missing the tension spring that goes between the lower part of the vise jaws.
    Try one of the blacksmith forums: IforgeIron; AnvilFire, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by High Iron View Post
    I have similar Leg Vise which is stamped "C" on the front and # 10 on the back of the bench support portion. I'm missing the tension spring that goes between the lower part of the vise jaws.
    Tension spring you can just make out of a flat bar about the same width as the jaw leg. Just bend it slightly like one half of a leaf spring and you will be fine. It does not flex much so mild steel will work. Look at pictures on line to see what you need to copy.
    Do you have the plate that bolts to the workbench? Spring goes in that with the vise leg.

  7. #7
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    The tension spring in my 5 1/2 inch blacksmith vise is strip of steel about 5/32" or 3/16", and the width of the vise jaw leg. It is held at the upper end by the strap that holds it to the mount bracket, and the bottom is forged out a little wider, and upset on the sides to form small tits that fit around and hold it in line with the vise jaw leg.

    General shape is like a long comma or bass clef, with the top bent over to keep it in the strap.


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