WoodCraft's Copy of
an Emmert Pattern Maker's Vise

by Dave Warren


Having grown up very near Waynesboro PA, the hometown of the old Emmert pattern-maker's vise, everyone in my life had an Emmert. I took these vises for granted until I went to look for one of my own. I've never seen one for sale locally, even though I looked. My Dad looked, my Uncles looked, no Emmerts. I endured stories like "I only paid $35 for mine from Bob So&So back in '72".

So I began to search the net for one for sale. Evidently the mystique of these beauties has some people seeking instant retirement from the sale of their treasured vise. Entrepreneurial sorts want $700 (to start) on make-shift online auctionsÖ email: Have for sale, Emmert vise, will sell to best offer over $700, reply by such & such, pictures not available, I live in Bangladesh, shipping paid by buyer, no questions as to condition allowed, have a nice day!

One fellow did email me pictures of what seemed like a very nice vise complete with most parts. I offered him $350 or $400 (canít remember) for it and I could read the full-bodied belly-laugh in his email reply declining my miserable offerÖ Iím sure if we had been face-to-face heíd have spit on my shoes.

I did have one philanthropist offer me one for $350Ö only a few small cracks, front jaw angle knob broken off, no tilt-clamp, itís painted orange, green, yellow, and mauve (in different layers). I wonder if these people know that the vises are practically useless without that nifty little clamp that bolts under your bench to hold the vise at a tilted angle? Or are they just using it while it flops up & down and think itís normal? Oh well.

Disgusted, I turned to the old AMT who made a cheap Taiwanese knock-off. but by the time I got around to it, AMTís out of business. OK, enough of my whining and on to the subject of the post.

When Dad got his newest WoodCraft catalog he called me and told me that they had a "NEW!" item. A cheap, knock-off Taiwanese copy of the Emmert pattern-makerís vise! I Guess that Taiwanese plant wasnít gonna be put out of business by AMTís failure and found another gateway to the wealthy US/Canadian market.

I went to our local WoodCraft store in Roswell GA and bought one. $199 + tax. Itís packaged in a generic box, stamped with unrecognizable english and numbers that only Taiwanese metal workers and WoodCraft inventory systems understand, but when I opened it up, sure enough there was a pattern-makers vise.

I removed a quart jar of cosmoline from it then realized it looked amazingly like an Emmert. It takes some doing mounting one of these to your bench, but once it was done I found out that it works very well and has all the functionality of an Emmert. Compared to the original the castings and machining are poor. Especially on the mounting bracket and the dogs.

When you mount one of these, you inset it into your bench and the iron mounting bracket (about 4"x6") sits flush with your benchtop. On the originals this is machined as smooth as a table saw top. On my copy itís rough and not even a consistant thickness, so it doesnít look as good. The machining around the tilt hinge on the front of the mounting bracket is miserable, the gap around the hinge isnít even and it looks cheezy.

The dogs (there are 4, 2 on the front jaw and 2 on the back jaw) on an original Emmert fit so snugly in their recesses that, when closed, you almost canít tell they are there. On my copy they fit more like a pack of gum would fit in a toilet paper tube, but they do work.

The "metal working" like jaws on the bottom side of the vise on an original have replaceable jaw pads just like a quality metal working vise. This copy has the "metal working" like jaws, but theyíre obviously there for visual authenticity and Iíd consider them useless for a serious metal worker.

Toss the cheap mounting screws and bolts that come with it. Obviously theyíre just there so they can stamp on the box (In Taiwanese of course) "All mounting hardware included".

On the plus side: The vise has rugged, heavy castings just like an original. All of the important mechanisms (rotate, tilt both directions, etc.) work just great. The jaws seem to be machined nice and flat and line up beautifully. The opening/closing screw mechanism is very smooth and, unlike the originals I saw for sale, it comes with all the parts.

All-in-all Iím impressed with the vise at this price. For woodworking use itíll serve me just as well as an original Emmert and I didnít have to send 2 mortgage payments to Bangladesh to get it.

Dave


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© 2003 by Ellis Walentine by special arrangement with Wayne Miller of Badger Pond. All rights reserved.
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