Sometimes it all comes down to fate and a little bit of luck and this vise is a really good example of that! Little did I know it would bring me an American Scale vise of huge proportions!
A few months ago I was driving to Toledo, Ohio to meet someone for work. I had a truck full of equipment that was getting shuttled down to Cleveland, and Toledo is about half way, so that was our meeting spot. When I was about half way there I got a call from the guy I was meeting, and he was running late. I had some time to kill so I got off the highway and decided to check my e-mail and quickly scan the local Craigslist. Sure enough, there was an ad for a garage sale that was all workshop type stuff, and listed “huge 8” vise” near the end, but didn’t include a picture. Now, most of the time when you see something like that it means the seller is measuring the jaw opening, not the width of the jaws themselves. By total coincidence I had stopped about a mile from where the garage sale was going to be, and it was starting in a few minutes, so I drove over to take a look.
I parked across the street from the house, and the couple was doing final setup moving things around and uncovering the items in the driveway. I asked if it was okay for me to look around since I was still a little early, but they were fine with it. Almost immediately I spied the vise, and it was absolutely the biggest I’d ever seen in person….a full 8” jaw and well over 200 pounds. I tried to play it cool, but my brain was already going into negotiation mode. I was the only one there so I looked around at all the other stuff they had, and even picked a few small items to buy. Eventually, I asked about the vise and the owner said he wanted $350 for it. I asked where he got it, and it turns out it was actually his brother’s vise, and that it came from an auction many years prior. I had three problems to deal with at that point. One, my truck was absolutely packed full, and there was no room to put it, two I didn’t have a significant amount of cash to pay for it, and three I didn’t really know what it was worth. I snapped a few pictures of it, and said I would try to come back later that day.
At that point all I knew was that it was an 8″ jaw American Scale model 58 that weighed a couple hundred pounds, and was in really good condition. It had been used a little bit, but it honestly had almost no wear to speak of. Finding an 8″ vise is rare, but finding one this clean is almost unheard of.
After handing off the equipment in Toledo I posted the pictures on a forum that has an active vise collector group and asked what people thought it was worth. I got immediate replies saying that it was a steal at $350. I finished the day at work, made a quick stop at home and went back to see if the vise was still there. Sure enough, it was still there so the seller and I loaded it up in my truck and it came home with me. Before the end of the day I had a few folks from the forum asking to see if I wanted to sell it and before I went to bed, I had deal with a great guy to sell him the vise and ship it to him. He paid the shipping, covered my packing expenses and then sent me several hundred dollars worth of vise parts I’ve been able to use in completing a few of my projects. It was really a win-win situation.
I should probably quickly touch on the topic of large vises. In general, anything with a jaw size larger than 6″ is unusual, and the price goes up exponentially as they go from 7″ to 8″ to 9″ which is about as big as you’ll ever find in a bench vise. At the upper end they can be 350 pounds and too large for anything but a massive, dedicated stand. In reality, almost nobody needs anything that big unless they’re restoring locomotives, but the large vises have a dedicated following, and the people who collect them will pay dearly for them. It turns out a collector is already trying to get this vise from the new owner because it’s a model he doesn’t have, and it came from his home state. It’s that sort of thing that drives the demand, and the price. At this point the prices are only going up, the supply is dwindling, and it’s not likely to change in the foreseeable future.
One thing I point out to everyone who looks at the pictures is the size of the spindle (where the handle passes through). It’s larger than the Coke can in front of it! This is one massive vise, and weighed 237 pounds on the scale before I crated it and bolted it to the pallet. For folks wondering, the only way to ship one of these monsters at a reasonable price is by using Fastenal Third Party Logistics. They put it on their trucks and it works it’s way around the country until it gets where it needs to be. They don’t give you a timeline, and it can be slow, but the price is surprisingly reasonable for something so big/heavy. Even better, the buyer pays for the shipping when they pick it up at a Fastenal store.
Here’s to fate and a little bit of luck!