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"luthier" Vise - Great Price


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Just thought I would throw this out here for any of you folks who are interested in the Stewmac luthier vise, actually known as a pattern makers vise. SM sells these for $136 US - you can get almost the identical vise here at a shooters supply house for 1/3 the price. Great deal. Merry Christmas - GPP

$42.44 pattern makers vise on closeout

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ugh... thanks (sarcasm)... now my wallet will be even lighter because im addicted to tools... if i see em, and i like em, i gotta buy em. Someone posted on another forum about a good drill bit set price... and there on the way... i wont post them to spare you all. hehe :D

Go ahead and post it before I spend the rest of today trying to find a deal on drill bits

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When I bought one in 2007, I paid $13.68 for shipping.

Quality wise, I always thought these things shouldn't cost more than $40.00 , after actually having one myself.

Cast Iron equivalent to a four year old baking a cake for the first time . LOL ! (made in China)

Pure speculation, but it's like they went out and bought one off the shelf, and used that as the 'master' to make copies from, which then leave even more to be desired with what they pop out of their factory.

I think 'Ulmia' is the name of the original version made in Germany. Of course the German's stopped making them, because they couldn't rule the world with their efforts.

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As always I have reason not to trust your "sound judgement"... but now I have reason to think you're unclassy as well. I'm quite happy about this.


As always, veryuneven making a false interpretation, but I'll clear it up for ya : I was referring to all the German tools over the years that stopped being made, apparently because the sales were not huge (they didn't dominate the market). That vise being one, and others like the Blitz saw and whatever German company made those superior clear red handle end nippers (which LMI used to see as fret cutters-- and now when you go into some German tool shops (yes, I'm a part-time resident of Germany) you get these cheap knock-off copies of those red handled tools that are absolute crap, but you buy them because they appear to be those good ones.

I always get a kick out of you claiming I do inferior work and give bad advice, and perhaps someday you can rack your brain and try to come up with a true example.

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Mine just arrived today, and although I haven't mounted it to my bench yet, I took it out of the box and had a look, and from what I've seen of it, it looks to be worth the $60 (incl. shpping) that I paid for it.

Edit: Weighs about 32 pounds.

Edited by Rick500
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One thing I was annoyed with was that when I'd clamp some things, or close the jaws against each other, There was a pretty big gap at the top of the jaws, while the very bottom of the jaws were touching. Like this.

So, I did a quick "fix" by shimming one jaw at the top with a piece of a CD. Like this.

You can also get some extra "capacity" by spinning the jaws around. Like this.

Well, at least it works when clamping something around 5/8" thick. Like this.

Also, these bolts suck. They did on mine anyway. I know some guys fix that with lock-tite or something like that, but I gave in and bought the upgrade kit from Stew-Mac to replace those bolts with a better system. Have not had a camera since I did that mod. If I did have a camera, I could show where I had to grind away some high areas of the castings, between the machined areas that the rails sit against.

The handle is held with a roll pin, which you can carefully knock out to remove the handle. I then put either teflon lube or graphite grease on the bearing face end of the handle, then put it back on.

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Mounting the vise now.

First tip: Ignore the instructions. Drill a 5/8" mounting hole, 2" in from the front and 2 - 3/8" in from the side of your bench (optimally). The instructions say to drill a 3/8" hole, 3" in from a corner.

(Now why didn't I measure the bolt first before I drilled a 3/8" hole? Grr.)

Edit: Okay, had to tap a 3/8" dowel into the hole and re-drill a 5/8" hole. No problem.

The jaws on mine close together evenly from top to bottom, so no problem there.


Haven't noticed any issues with the bolts or the handle, but to be fair, I haven't really used it yet; just mounted it and played around with it a little. It is cast pretty crudely, and the thick black paint is chipped in a couple places, exposing the metal and allowing a little surface rust. Nothing that should hurt the functionality of it though.

If I'd paid $130 for it I would have been disappointed, but at $60, I'm good with it.

Edited by Rick500
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Soap turned me onto this seller almost two years ago. He has upgraded his vice with SM parts (from what I can remember from my vast black hole of a memory). I have not, nor have I seen a need to as it works fine.

I replaced the garbage wood faces with maple and added a 1/4" cork face. Thats pretty much it except for cleaning out all the Chinese sand casting grit and adding some grease. I have done this with machines costing hundreds so it not just this vice that needs it. I may have added washers to the bolts? Also some general rough casting clean up work. maybe some spray paint when I was finished? Who can remember.

The jaws have some slop in them where the pieces are bolted down. If they are overly tight then they may not mate properly nor will they swivel properly. The rails on the other hand are sloppy and it works fine.

For the price including shipping it's a bargain.


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Well, not much interesting stuff going on at this forum, and I just got done working my ass off, so yeah, I'll talk about this vise somemore, maybe until someone beats me in the head with it.

Yes, you've got the mystery wood jaw faces held with 4 little wood screws on each side. Well, 10-24 machine screws also fit through those same holes, so if you want you can make a mess of different jaw faces with machine thread inserts in them to swap different kinds of jaw faces. I heard one guy has a jaw face with the shape of a pickup rout sticking out of it, so he can hold certain guitar bodies in the vise, and doesn't have to worry about not cranking the vise tight enough, 'cause the specialized jaw face is added insurance that the guitar body won't suddenly slip out of grip in the jaws.

You can have some jaw faces with medium grit sandpaper attached for working with rough stock (jaw faces with some grip.

Cork too, as mentioned.

One guy has a 1/2 neck profile in each jaw face to help hold a guitar neck better.

I've seen pics of one of thise vises in Charles Fox's shop with some way bigger wood jaw faces.

Then there's the idea of making thinner jaws. When Stewmac first started selling this vise (they first saw this patternmaker's vise being used at Umanov Guitars in NYC (Michael Gurian turned Matt Umanov onto it)), they had a full page ad in their catalog for this vise and it includes this tip :

" Tip : We've found the wooden jaws on the guitar repair vise can be thinned down to 1/2" for that little extra capacity (a full 7-1/4") without sacrificing jaw strength..."

Then, yesterday, I came up with another trick to add more capacity : You can remove all bolts from a rail at a time (leave the other rail mounted and you can do this while the vise is mounted normally on your bench-top), then , move that rail until the hole that was closest to the handle is now lined up with the next hole over. bolt 'er down. Then repeat on the other rail, then replace that end through bolt. BUT, you will run out of thread if you keep opening the vise as far as possible, so watch that thread and make sure plenty of it is still engaged inside the non-moving jaw casting block.

I think I had over 7" opening when doing that, and that's with the stock wood jaw faces. I guess you'd get close to 8" with thinner jaw faces.

Here's a stewmac email thing about this vise :


A few photos down, it looks like Dan's vise has some extra holes in the rail on his vise. I wonder what the hell that's all about ?

Ok, maybe my final tip :

You can mount this vise through the hole of the table of a large drill-press. At least I can on my dril-press.

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What I'm really curious about is if this was just a case of a distributor discontinuing sales of that vise, or if the actual factory that makes them has decided to stop making them, in which case I'll kick myself for not buying a couple to resell later, if they'd become hard to find.

That happened with another "guitar vise" Stewmac sold for a while, long ago. It was a telescoping ball-joint vise. Much different than the patternmaker vise, in design, but very similar with what you use it for. Much more expensive too. Stew-Mac was selling them for $350.00 or somewhere around that. Then they stopped being made and now people pay at least $1,000 for a used one WHEN they can even find one for sale.

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