Don't know a good one, but I will recommend against the Harbor Freight ones.
Bought the largest one they had and broke it within it's first hour of use. Welded it back together, and plan to mount it on my trailer, but don't expect it to hold up to a whole lot.
Was in a bind and needed one quick, so I replaced it with a nearly identical one. Been holding up fine, but I'm also scared to use it any way but gentle, which kind of limits the usefulness of having one.
Wiltons are the nicest IMO but they usualy price themselves out of my reach. I went with a ridgid a couple years ago and have beat it hard and couldnt be happier. I would buy another if this ever broke but it has held up extremely well.
i have a wilton at work.. i bought it at lowes ~4 months ago. it's been mounted on the bumper of my service truck till last week. it's held up fine, just spray it down with WD-40 before it rained :shaking:
as far as use/abuse for work i pretty much just use it as a steady rest. i've pounded a little on it, but i'm pretty easy on it. i think it was 60 bucks.. it seems kinda cheesy but it's worked for what i use it for.
on the other hand in our personal work shop we have one that my grandpa snagged off a military base during WWII. no markings, just one beefy SOB. opens about 10".
i have moved the 700lb bench around the shop prying, beating,bending, clamping the vice..
A vise is one item where they truly "dont make 'em like they used to"
They make cheaper Wiltons now as well - the ones your find at home depot or lowes. We had a 6" one at the shop we broke after a year or 2, replaced it with another. Would love a good one but they are NOT cheap.
I bought a Wilton from Lowe's several years ago. I believe it was the 6" version. I have beat on it quite a bit without any problems other than one of the jaw inserts has worked loose. Just need to put some loc-tite on teh screws and it should be good to go (once I figure out what I did with my allen wrenches).
I wanted a vise made in USA. Ended up spending $198 for a 5" Wilton Tradesman about 8 months ago (marked down from $260). Everytime I use it I appreciate the smooth operation. I hate the way the jaw wiggles around on the made in China crap...
Gotta agree they're not made like they used to be. And also as noted even Wilton and others are introducing lower-quality lines to stay competitive, and of course not everyone can afford $500 to $1000.
Looking thru the Enco catalog other brands to consider might be Yost or Palmgren. The Ridgids claim to be made in Germany.
Vises are a lot like machine equipment: the heavier it is, the more likely it is to hold up.
I've got a 5" Craftsman I got on sale awhile back, it mighta been $60 or so. It's "ok," but defintely sloppy and the jaws don't clamp square to each other if your work is off to one side. Also just had a jaw plate crack. I welded it up and milled it flat but I don't expect the repair to last, mostly 'cause the plate was noticeably cast and didn't care for MIG.
I also got one of the big vises, but I thing the manfacturer is Columbia vise, or something like that. Made in Cleveland, Ohio - USA. Got it for free from my dads boss. Its a big and heavy mofo. Holds up to everything.
I used to have a Craftsman, man that broke quick.
On the milling machine we have some generic china vise bought from Enco or MSC.
I have a Reed swivel vice too.
I bought it at a used tool place for $20 about 20 years ago. One of the 4 ears was broke off and it was missing the handle. I made a handle and use the crap out of it and it has never let me down.
Made in Erie PA.
Definatly buy one made in America.
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