In any proper workshop you want to be able to securely hold a workpiece, whether it’s a tiny PCB or a heavy piece of forged steel. [Jason Marburger] from Fireball Tool needed a really large heavy-duty vise, so he built himself a massive 1490 lbs / 676 kg floor-standing blacksmith vise from scratch.
Blacksmith vises are designed to take a lot of heavy abuse, such as holding heavy pieces of steel that are being hammered. [Jason]’s vise stands about 3 feet tall, and the main frame components were cut from 1 5/8 inch (41.3 mm) steel with a water jet cutter. The jaws are operated with a large hand wheel connected to a lead screw. Bearings on the lead screw allow the hand wheel to be spun like a flywheel, allowing it to be quickly opened and closed. The weight of the moving jaw keeps the lead screw under tension, eliminating any backlash. This allows for really fine control over the holding force, which [Jason] demonstrates by carefully clamping a tiny screw. With the hand wheel alone the vise can exert 12880 lb / 5800 kg, but a hydraulic lift was also added, boosting the force to 30000 lbs. The deep throat allows a large object to be clamped, and the jaws can also be offset to clamp something to the side of the vise.
The vise was beautifully finished with powder coating and pin striping, which will no doubt wear over time if it’s properly used, but the vise itself should last a few lifetimes. While this isn’t something you can really build in a home workshop, it is always inspiring to see what is possible with a bit more tools, knowledge and skill. The build is documented in a 4 part series (link in first paragraph), but we’ve added a short highlights reel below for your viewing pleasure.
[Jason] really knows his way around a piece of steel, and we’ve previously covered his techniques for cleaning up the inside to square tubing to make telescoping tubes. Another interesting recent vise build was [Alexandre Chappel]’s wide bench vise that used 3D printed gears to drive two lead screws simultaneously.