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Cast steel vs ductile iron vise?


SMP

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Hello all,

I am a home mechanic/woodworker/ jack of all trades kind of guy starting to do some basic blacksmithing as a hobby.  Looking at some machinists/mechanics/general vises at Home Depot that can fill my need for a general purpose vise that can handle mechanic work, home repair, steel pipe, and some basic blacksmithing and metal work.  I see a few that look decent for a decent price.  I know cast iron is not great, a lot of reviews show them cracking etc.  So I was trying to narrow it down between some that are "structural cast steel" or or ductile iron.  Yost also has one that is Austempered ductile iron.  Not sure what that is.  Some have 5 year warranties while some have lifetime casting warranties.  So thought I would ask here which material would be good for some light duty blacksmithing.  Note, I do have a xxxxxx Harbor Freight anvil as well as piece of train track that I am slowly turning into an anvil shaped object.  So the vise would be mainly for when I need something clamped, more like heating up steel bar to bend(for example current project requires making some 90 degree bends in 1/4" x 3" steel bar).  Was hoping someone could answer this for me as I am not finding a clear answer searching.

 

Thanks in advance!

Steve

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Welcome to IFI... An ASO is cast iron that looks like a London pattern anvil. Exactly what the HF anvils are. Your RR track which is steel is an anvil (only improvised) and it sounds like you are on the way to improving it. I suggest looking through the Improvised anvil threads for the best way to use it.

If I were in the market for a vise, I would go with the ductile iron over cast iron. There are some good anvils being made out of it. As far as structural cast steel, I've never heard of it being used in the craft and don't know how well it would be for a vise.

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For what the HD Yost vise cost you could have a really nice used Athol, Columbian, Prentis or similar vintage vise that will likely hold its value better.  Asking one vise to do it all is a tall order that will never be 100% for everything you want.  Perhaps a post vise and a good swivel bench vise?

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12 hours ago, Branding Iron said:

For what the HD Yost vise cost you could have a really nice used Athol, Columbian, Prentis or similar vintage vise that will likely hold its value better.  Asking one vise to do it all is a tall order that will never be 100% for everything you want.  Perhaps a post vise and a good swivel bench vise?

Yeah where I live it seems there are "vise hunters" who scour all the ads, then refurb them and sell them for $300-400, so its tough to find old ones that aren't "restored" to look like they are in decent condition.  A lot look to have spray paint over welds etc.  Plust it seems easier to find specs for newer vises, like for example one project I am working on bending the flat bar, it would help to have a 4" throat which a lot of bench vises don't seem to have.

13 hours ago, Irondragon ForgeClay Works said:

Welcome to IFI... An ASO is cast iron that looks like a London pattern anvil. Exactly what the HF anvils are. Your RR track which is steel is an anvil (only improvised) and it sounds like you are on the way to improving it. I suggest looking through the Improvised anvil threads for the best way to use it.

If I were in the market for a vise, I would go with the ductile iron over cast iron. There are some good anvils being made out of it. As far as structural cast steel, I've never heard of it being used in the craft and don't know how well it would be for a vise.

Thanks for the welcome and info.  I will look up the info on the train track.  I am leaning towards the ductile iron or the austempered ductile iron.  Reading the reviews of the cast iron ones where people working on suspension parts have cracked the jaw in pieces worries me.  I do suspension work and seem to always need to get the sledge hammer out for tie rod ends etc.

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Welcome aboard Steve, glad to have you.  S. Cal. is a high priced market for most anything and since forged in fire smithing tools are at a premium. Deals are out there but not common, it's worse in Alaska but I've stumbled across a couple. Be patient and use the TPAAAT method it works. It's discussed at length on Iforge.

Hunting online is going to put you in touch with people looking to make as much as possible. If instead you talk to people everywhere say in the checkout line at the Piggly Wiggly, church, etc. everywhere, you'll run into folks clearing out Uncle Bud's old shed or whatever and looking to get rid of that darned thing they've been tripping over all their lives. No fooling it works a treat.

A personal example of mine happened at work. Everybody knew I'm a hobby smith and general metal worker, one of the guys was clearing out his Father's shop. His Father was getting up in age and injuring himself in his shop so the family cleared out his tools while he was in the hospital. He sold a 8" Wilton bench vise for $40, new in the local commercial Hardware store they run $1,200. I wasn't looking but I was the guy to ask. A couple years later my Father died as a result of an injury he did himself coupled with COPD.

You can do LIGHT smithing in a bench vise and a ductile iron one would be primo. Remember to hammer against the Immobile jaw, NOT against the mobile one. I bend brackets in a vise as a matter of course and my leg vise isn't the best for getting a 90* bend. 

Mount a good swivel base bench vise on a corner of the bench, preferably directly over a stout leg. Hopefully one side of the jaws will be over clear air to the ground so you can work long pieces. A bench vise is a necessity, even a cheap'O cast crud bench vise. You gotta have at least one.

Frosty The Lucky.

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For a vise to hammer on I would go with a blacksmith's post vise as they are DESIGNED to be hammered on.  Got my first 6" vise from a car repair place shutting down; the auction flier said hey had been in the same location since 1918.  They had pushed the shaper and forge back into the corner and piled junk on them; but had been using the postvise for over 70 years!  (Now over 100 years!)  In general I have been able to find post vises cheaper than good machinists vises and so I currently have 6 post vises mounted and in use and only 1 machinist vise.

Don't forget there were more tools in cities than in rural places!

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SMP

You want a bench vice "do it all" made out of heat treated 1045 steel (At least they used to be made of this steel) go for Heuer, made in Germany. If I could only have a single vice, Heuer would be it. They can take a beating, they will survive fine.  They are expensive but probably you can get a used one, Youtube is loaded with videos on Heuer restoration, repair, maintenance and use. There is this Youtube channel under the name "Fireball tool" he posted a video "What vise is the strongest" you will see how strong Heuer vices are.

Mild steel home made bench vises if built correctly are also very strong. Check the same youtube 'Fireball tool" channel

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