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Just because its shiny doesn't mean...


Ultra Member
Premium Member
...its accurate.

The vise in this unboxing/review looks remarkably similar to my (no longer produced) Bison which is super accurate. I see these very similar vises all the time originating from Asia. Some look to be decent & have gotten great reviews. Possibly like the Gerardi & GS links, maybe different import labels, sometimes Taiwan mentioned but not always. Others look to be inferior, possibly like the YouTube review. Sheesh, all that nice grinding & copycat-ing then they sh*t the bed on fundamental squareness & what looks like inferior lead screw & mechanism. Yeah. The 2 things you are faced with every single time you use it. I probably would have gone about measuring it a bit different, but anyway shows the discrepancy he was faced with. I suppose if the price is awesome & you treat it like a kit & you have the means to tune it in, it might still still be worthwhile. Its just frustrating when you cant see what you are getting. Or they vary even by same supplier.

Gerardi reference

GS Tooling reference

unboxing/review of problem vise

Tom Kitta

Active Member
Well some cheap tooling cannot exactly be fixed - like these "milling" vises from KMS or BB are just ... not ready. They are just good enough for a drill press or for rough milling / where you don't care about say 0.25mm jaw lift.

There is another video where a guy tries to make the cheap stuff work. He re-grinds it etc. spends hours trying to make it right... nope - in the end when he puts it together after playing around with it for like 12h it has exactly the same jaw lift as before.

On the other hand as in my 1st paragraph maybe you don't need precision / strength - then its totally fine. Difference in my opinion between KMS/BB style vise and my Kurt is huge - like between night and day. The cheap $100 4" "milling" vise is totally at home on the drill press through so its not like I scraped it.

On the other hand a review of Chinese made Harbour Freight 1/2" breaker bar showed it to be superior to the snap-on brand breaker bar (and a bit inferior to some other US brands). Thus that is a clear 100% buy for HF. Thus not everything that is shiny and cheap equals crap. Not everything that is shiny and expensive is a good deal.


Well-Known Member
I had a great vise from the 'old days' at BB. Unfortunately it got wrecked. (long story, not my fault), and I replaced it with a great Kurt 633 clone from Thomas Skinner. So clones can be good but caveat emptor.

- if it's too cheap, it is.

- even expensive stuff can be junk.

Tom Kitta

Active Member
You can take off the base to make it a bit smaller. I don't know of any other uses for it & feels too expensive to throw away. Sell it?

I suspect they use belt sander a lot to simulate part was ground. I guess very poor casting which was never seasoned could also twist 005
Nah, I have a 6" shop made shaper, I can recognize shaper tracks. Without using the skate, the support for the table, .005 is about what a shaper will give you roughing, at least mine. Even the ground jaws need work. I have a Delta Toolmaker, a simple surface grinder ,so those things were and are simple fixes. The worst thing about the vise was the tightening screw, the ball and it's socket it pushed against to get that "Kurt" pull down. Looking at it, it was hand ground. He was blind in one eye and couldn't see out the other. Bad. When done, I'll use it on the shaper.


Well-Known Member
Anyone who needs a decent 5" vise with a 360 degree base, there's one at Modern Tool for $230. My experience to date is that with a little negotiating, you can probably get it for $210. It looks like a Taiwanese vise at first look.

anyhow it doesn't look abused and had a good appearance.


Ultra Member
Premium Member
Yusa is supposed to be a good brand.

I bet if a guy had a surface grinder, granite plate & reasonable source for decent lead screw stock, you could transform these Chinese door stops into something decent. OTOH, if you have that kind of tooling in the shop, you probably don't have that kind of vise problem LOL.

Tom Kitta

Active Member
Nah guy on youtube that is like 10x better then me tried hard to make it better.

He used his surface grinder etc. spent like 10h+ on it etc. etc.

In the end when he clamped a part in it he got the same jaw lift as before.

You can get Polish import - Toolmex vise. The problem is that in order to get close to or at Kurt quality you need to be close to the price of Kurt - so Toolmex will save you say 100 or 150 off a 6" vise - not a huge amount of $. Anything less $$$ and you start getting quality hit.


Ultra Member
Premium Member
I tend to agree. BTW, I applied Stefans test to my 5" Bison vise & turns out it was better than the Kurt readings as I posted in his YouTube comments section (attached). I've actually heard this on a few other forums, some suggesting the magic is in the leadscrew mechanics geometry & prismatic jaws. This vise style isn't made anymore by Bison, they only have the casting style now & possibly the big industrial modulars. I got my 5" at almost half price in a Toolmex blowout, apparently when it was being discontinued but I didn't know that at the time. I could have got a 6" for same %off but it was just too much stickout for my RF45 at the time. But I have no regrets, it was an excellent buy & nets me probably 3" of headroom. The disadvantage to prismatic is replacement jaws & soft jaws & things like that are more involved, so point in favor to Kurt style. You also cant use those clip-on jaw stops like rectangular jaws. Not a biggy there, I use a different kind of stop.

My understanding is Toolmex is just a USA middleman distributor & one of the lines they carry (rebrand) is Bison amongst other eastern euro block names. In Canada you can get Bison through Sowa, again another distributor essentially. But either way, Bison stuff in general is getting crazy expensive now. They used to be good value, moderate cost. Gerrardi is a simialt low profile accurate vise, but maybe >= Kurt $. They publish their specs & have a good selection of drop-in jaws. I feel (but don't know for sure) GS might be a Taiwan reincarnation of the Bison +/- some details. They also cost like Kurts & have yet to read where someone has tested it rigorously against others. And of course, there the pretenders as mentioned in post #1.

And then there is the reality check. What kind of parts are you making, what kind of tolerances & repeat-ability is necessary and how much hobby moola is in the piggy bank. Putting an awesome vise on a worn out, loose machine wont make up for those discrepancies. Some guys view the vise as the heart of the beast, they will buy a good one once, keep it forever & upgrade the machines over time. That's another way of looking at it.




Well-Known Member
Dkinner sells a very good Kurt 633 clone for about 60-% of the price. Made in Taiwan. I should do the 'Gotteswinter test'...
My surface plate is just another BB one on sale,. You could likely get the same level of accuracy from a cabinet shop and their granite sink cut outs . The maximum cut with my Toolmaker is 1/2 thou .I think I might have put 5 hours into the vise so far, I still have the jaws to do. My surface grinder is a slow back and forth. I started on the bottom and worked my way up. So far within .001, I'm certainly no machinist. But if you are looking at $125 a hour shop time, that's close to $700 . Now , a Kurt looks inexpensive in that light.

Another name is Glacern, imported castings, finished in the States. Direct sales. And they do sell a 5".


Ultra Member
Premium Member
I might have put 5 hours into the vise so far, I still have the jaws to do. My surface grinder is a slow back and forth. I started on the bottom and worked my way up. So far within .001"
I'd like to see your rebuild pics if you care to post one day. I can see 'refurbishing' vises being challenging in many ways because there are so many datum surfaces that inter-fit & have inter-action. Its not like squaring up a face & calling it good. Are you into scraping (the bottom cast iron face) or is that being ground? Anyway, I think its cool to improve or hopefully transform a 'kit' into something more useable even if the $/hr makes no sense. If that was a factor my payout time would be infinity! LOL

I'm not sure about the countertop thing vs. an import surface plate. Not saying it wouldn't be useful & yes, countertop cut off is granite all smooth alright, but I see no reason why they would grind it to the same spec. And for 48$ for a 12x18, hard to quibble. And because it has an official sticker you can be certain its 0.0001" (that was a joke). Actually I saw a post where a guy had the proper equipment & validated an import just like this. It wasn't perfect but wasn't that horribly bad compared to the stated grade. Maybe the next one will be different but anyway that's pretty accurate stuff for a home guy. How in the hell can they cut this out of a mountain, grind it to that spec, send 100 pounds across the ocean in a box, truck to a local BB & sell it for that?
So far, it's just a lot of grinding. I used the bed of the vise for the trueing the base. The swivel was just do one side, then flip and grind. . Personally, I think the reading had much more to do with luck then grinding skill. Sh** happens and sometimes it's good. You have to remember surface grinders wear their wheels, so your grinding pattern has to compensate. Your sparks will tell you what to do. I'm a retired millwright, not a machinist, so don't quote me. I know the jaws need to be done and the fixed and moveable blocks both need checking.

A Delta Toolmaker was designed to make and sharpen tooling . When the plant shut down, I bought it at the auction. I haven't checked the teflons or trued the mag chuck, yet. The vise is going on a shop built shaper, a couple of thou would be fine.

I think I paid $36 a while back.

By far the worst part of the vise was the ball and socket in the moveable block. The thread was ordinary , not acme.

Counter top granite might be flat lapped to get the polish. that might be the cheapest way.

I'm an old Phart, my computer skills are pretty light. No pictures,.
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Well-Known Member
Granite counter tops are great for lapping plane blades and such, but they are not flat in a toolroom sense. Take a straight edge and a light to them and you'll see.

I have a BB surface plate for normal shop work and a more accuraate one for measuring very tight tolerances. So far I haven't been dissappointed with the BB surface plate.


Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Ditto dabbler on the bb surface plate , it hasn't let me down yet for what I use it for (testing head warpage, rings etc for small motors)

On the vise topic , I researched , debated and finally ordered a 4" shars vise (looked hard at the glacern )

Overall I'm very happy with it . I have about 5 or 6 other vises including the self centering 3" sowa from bb. The shars vise is far and away (like 1000x) better than anything else I saw

I saw jangers vise which I believe is the same one dabbler picked up from thomas skinner and it is comparable to the shars vise in feel and construction

I didn't go Kurt because their new 4" hadn't come to market fully when I bought (u can get it now though). 6" was too big for my mills...... but if the shaper I just picked up works like I hope I'll be looking 6" or bigger and would again consider all alternatives....again

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