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Rock Island # 97 Bench Vise with 6" Custom Fitted Replaceable Jaws

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 Product Description

Here is a big 'ol 135 pound Rock Island #97 ready for some work.  This vise deserves a stand over a bench, so you can work all around it.

The early stationary base vises like this one had a very hard jaw face casted into the vise during production.  Some, after years of use, got damaged even when the jaws were in the 60 Rockwell range. This particular Rock Island has 6" wide jaws which needed some repair and put back to work with a set of new replaceable jaws. 

To pull this off, I first had to resurface the base.  It was pretty rough with a high and low cast surface. I like a flat clean up the casting so it will not rock in my machine.  It also gives it a nice flat surface to clamp on a bench or vise stand. I use carbide end mills and cut using the side of the cutter, which works best, see my picture. The early Wilton C3’s with 5/8 x 1-1/4 x 6” jaws are actually a perfect marriage and a great fit, so that's what I used for the replacement. Took some time but worked great.

I then built a new 13/16 x 16” handle and added rubber bumpers to save your fingers. The round knobs are peened in place with a torch, just like most original handles, but I think they probably used a punch press and cold formed theirs.

I fixed the loose handle or backlash by adding a spacer and wrapping a soft aluminum sheet around the nut dovetail.  It was very loose in there and had thick gaps.  When you backup the handle, the nut raises and causes almost 3/4 of a turn before moving.  Just the way the vise was built back in the early 1900’s.  I like no more than a 1/4 turn.  The aluminum shim works perfectly and will not see any abuse, so it will probably outlast you.

For the finish I used a mixture of 1/2 cup of Beeswax, 1-1/2 cup of Boiled Linseed Oil,and a small tube of Graphite Powder heated and mixed together. This finish is hard right now, but will only get harder with time. A favorite finish of mine for a working vise.

The vise now closes up very nicely.  It is tight, had very little abuse, and will last your lifetime.  If purchased for a working shop, it will be one of the Go To vises everyone will want to use.  I don't think you're going to find one like this under a $1000.


I suggest checking with your local Fastenal, or go here: www.fastenal.com/3pl 

Get a quote for a crate that is 12 x 12 x 30 inches long.  It will weigh 155 pounds with the vise.  

Here is the Fastenal store I use for shipping:  63 S Pratt Pkwy, Longmont, CO 80501

Remember, when shipping through Fastenal, the customer sets up and pays for the shipping.  All I do is build the crate and get it to the store. Really a convenient and cheap way to ship vises.

My guess for shipping is $140.  If you find a cheaper cost, I can update the listing.  Let's figure out shipping before you purchase.


Any questions?  Send me a note at this e-mail address:  mountainproduct@gmail.com or call me.  (970) 235-1153



Vise Specifications: 

Length - 26"

Widest dimension of vise - 10"

Height - 11"

Height from top of jaws to square slider - 4-1/4"

Maximum safe jaw opening -11"  It can go more but the sq slider is inside the Static Jaw Support opening.

Weight 140 lbs

Jaw width - 6"

Jaw height - 1-1/4"


Shipping: See Listing  Guesstimate  $140 I cover the crate build and cost.

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