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On Record Vises – Old Quick-release Are Still Best

This is about to push up the price of old Record vises on eBay, but don’t be fooled by thinking the new Irwin Record vises being sold on eBay and other sites are the same as the pre Irwin Record vises because they are sold as ‘Record’ or Irwin vises. These vises and many other Asian knockoffs painted blue are not the same animal at all.

[lightbox link="https://paulsellers.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/10/DSC_0070.jpg" thumb="https://paulsellers.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/10/DSC_0070.jpg" width="0" align="left" title="DSC_0070" frame="true" icon="image"]A year ago I bought 6 Record vises in one lot on eBay In 2007 I bought 10 school workbenches with Woden vises for the vises and the beech wood from the benches. We’ve used the vises at the UK school but the vises are now about 60 years old. The Record #52 1/2 vises I bought were all pre 60’s and were well used. They work perfectly. I have a US bench on storage in Texas that has my original vies on it. One bought secondhand in the late 60’s and the owner had used it for some decades before me.
Presently, on my personal benches, I have three Woden vises on the two benches at my home workshop and at the Penrhyn Castle workshop, have two personal benches there, I have two Record vises and a Woden vise.
I have not found an import vise in the UK that compares to the Record vise. In the US they still have the Jorgensen 41012 Woodworkers Vise that has been around for decades and is fairly priced at around $150. Because Record sold off its tooling and production here in the UK ceased, Irwin Record vises are no longer produced in the UK but on another continent. The quality of castings does not match those of the original Record Marples and so longevity will likely match that of Asian imports which as yet has never compared to domestic British or US standards.
[lightbox link="https://paulsellers.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/10/DSC_0054.jpg" thumb="https://paulsellers.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/10/DSC_0054.jpg" width="0" align="left" title="DSC_0054" frame="true" icon="image"]I found three more Record vises I have collected under my repair shop bench this week as I was reorganising and clearing out my excess waste. These were well rusted when I bought them so cleaned off the rust with plastic and wire abrasive discs and pads, fettled the moving quick release components whilst I had access to them and greased and oiled all other moving parts ready to install as new benches come together.
[lightbox link="https://paulsellers.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/10/DSC_0058.jpg" thumb="https://paulsellers.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/10/DSC_0058.jpg" width="0" align="left" title="DSC_0058" frame="true" icon="image"]It’s always a good idea to strip down the components and remove any rust as the rust tends to slow down the movement of the quick release or cause the engagement to slip just as you are about to cinch up the vise jaws on the workpiece. It’s a simple matter to remove the cast block, abrade off the rust and reinstall. [lightbox link="https://paulsellers.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/10/DSC_0068.jpg" thumb="https://paulsellers.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/10/DSC_0068.jpg" width="0" align="left" title="DSC_0068" frame="true" icon="image"][lightbox link="https://paulsellers.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/10/DSC_0057.jpg" thumb="https://paulsellers.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/10/DSC_0057.jpg" width="0" align="left" title="DSC_0057" frame="true" icon="image"]I prefer the bulk of this work to be done with a coarse plastic abrasive disk, the ones used in metal working industries for the same purpose, as this literally removes the rust without causing damage to the metal or too much reduction. [lightbox link="https://paulsellers.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/10/DSC_0069.jpg" thumb="https://paulsellers.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/10/DSC_0069.jpg" width="0" align="left" title="DSC_0069" frame="true" icon="image"]I find this especially so on the parallel bars either side of the screw thread. On the screw thread itself I used a 2″ diameter wire wheel. This went deep into the internal corners of the threads and removed any and all rust. Once completed I waxed the newly exposed areas around the jaws, greased the threads inside the threaded block that receives the screw stem and greased the screw rod. The vises are now ready to install.

29 comments

  1. Ed says:

    Are all the Record vises equally good as long as they were made in England? It seems there was a change in the England-made castings in the 60s or 70s and I don’t know if this like Stanley and other makers spoiling good tools. The one you show here is one of the older ones while the newer English Records supposedly have a flat rather than round end to the screw where the handle goes through.

    • I am sure things decreased quality even when Record was Record. Partly because there was a transitional run of companies buying out the company by companies such as Bahco, American Tool, Praxair and finally Rubbermaid. When it was Record and Record Marples things had alrady started to diminish in quality. I’m not altogether savvy on the the Record history, but comparing older with the era you speak of does show that quality was worsening and weaker parts being installed. That said, the pre Irwin involvement at least meant it was being made in good British foundries and factories.

      • Steve Massie says:

        Hi Paul,

        I just finished your Bench and have to install my vice and I think I will put a couple coats of paint on the aprons and legs. I bought a Record 52E for Highland Hardware back in the 80’s before Record was no longer available. It is one massive vice and should serve me well.

        Thanks again for everything you share and do, I have learned so much from you since I have discovered your Blog and Woodworkingmasterclasses.

        Curious what kind of grease do you use, I have dusted it off and put a couple coats of wax on it.

        Steve

          • Steve Massie says:

            Thanks Paul, I have Johnson’s paste wax and use it on all my tools. Also my vice is a Record 52 1/2 made in England not a 52E which I called it earlier.

            Thanks again !

            Steve

          • Ed says:

            Paul- I have a new Eclipse vise stripped apart and am confused over where you use grease, where you use wax, and where you might use oil. Are you saying you use furniture wax everywhere including the main threaded rod and the quick release split-nut threads? When you periodically “oil” your vise, are you applying furniture wax to the guide rods and threaded rod, then? If this were just a mechanical device I know I’d grease throughout, but in the woodshop, that doesn’t sound right.

  2. Reinoud Delporte says:

    Last week my brother bought a Paramo vise from a 74 year old guy in Holland. Since he was more of a metalworker, he never used this vise and it had been laying in the shed for 40 years. Luckily it was well greased and preserved (metalworker).
    He also sold us two sets of cramp heads, also Paramo. He bought these back in the late 60’s/early 70’s.
    The items are also great quality and similar to Record, also made in Sheffield, but fairly unknown.

    • Danny says:

      Just for info — found out a little more about UK woodworking bench vices: – seems people used wooden vices (maybe a steel screw) or engineering type before Parkinsons (Bradford/Shipley) and Woden (Birmingham/black country) came along. Parkinsons seem to have patented the buttress thread/quick release. The same family (Hampton) made Woden in the Midlands and later (different company, butother members of the Hampton family) Record in Sheffield. These three makers were the main players (each with a large range of engineering and woodworking vices). In the UK there was also Rededa (don’t know where) with a similar line, and from the time of WW2, Paramo (Paramore Ltd of Rotherham and Sheffield). Quite a few vices were labelled Marples, the earlier ones being made by Parkinsons, later I don’t know. Fortis and Swinden also made special vices in the UK (eg rotating). Eclipse (Sheffield) just made engineering vices. As well as quick release Perfects, Parkinsons also made the Popular and Samsonia ranges. In a Buck and Ryan catalogue of 1964 Parkinsons, Paramo and Record alla have very similar specifications and prices (but some design/casting differences).
      regards
      Danny (Sheffield, UK)

  3. George Bridgeman says:

    Apt timing! I picked up a Parkinson’s Perfect Vise 15 in a tool shop this morning. Really good condition, the seemingly original plum colour paint is all there. Hadn’t seen them until today, then here you post! Thanks for the info.

    George.

  4. Pinkie Were Wolf says:

    Hahaha, WOW…. am I glad that I bought two of the Lee Valley Vises. You are right, the vintage Record vises are RIDICULOUSLY priced on ebay right now. A few months ago a guy could get a quick release Record for about $150 US. (or less)
    All of that aside, this is a good post for what to look for and how to refurbish the ole vises.
    For most of us the Lee Valley vises out of Eastern Europe will last a life time.
    P.S. this is John Guengerich, the Discus log in that I used to use hasn’t been functioning so I’m using my FB.

  5. Dave Wilkinson says:

    Thanks for this insightful post Paul. After reading it yesterday I bid on and won, a 52 1/2 & and a 53, winning the pair for under £90. I picked them up last night and they look great! Now to finish your bench so I can mount them.

    • It is hard to deal with different makers these days as they switch things around so much. Remember the Nicholson file company that switched from making their own US -made manufacture to manufacturers supplying them from Mexico.
      As far as can be known these Eclipse vises are still good vises. Anyone else know anything to help Ed?

  6. Florian says:

    Hi Paul,

    In one of your recent posts on the leather lining for the vise I thought to see that the threaded rod itself is also protected at he original record vises. My york vise has the thread fully exposed thus catching a lot of dust. Did you retrofit this or is it an original feature of the records?

    Thanks a lot!

    Florian

  7. Ruud says:

    Hello Paul , are the woden als the same quality als the record a what should be a resonable price for an old one.WODEN NO1 189B 7″ QUICK RELEASE VICE

    • Fact is, there is no modern maker matching what Record and Woden once had. I think the Woden to be every bit as good and better than Record, but that said, an old Record is tough to beat.

  8. Sean Hamill says:

    Hey Paul,

    Beginner’s question: I am restoring a record 52 thats in pretty good shape with a good coat of surface rust everywhere. Started off with soaking it in apple cider vinegar and the rust is coming off quite well. I wanted to take the vice apart to clean the quick release parts with the disks as you describe above – but I can’t get the pin out of the end (which I assume is necessary to take it apart – I haven’t found any instructions on how to break it down). I pounded on it for a little bit with just a hammer but I was concerned that I might deform the pin or bend it out of alignment. Is there a method to removing the pin or should I just keep hammering it?

    • The only time I have taken a vise apart is if it was broken, not for general maintenance. Once you clean out the threads with a wire brush, that is enough. Then just oil regularly and the mechanisms will all work well.

      • Sean Hamill says:

        excellent – then I will leave it intact and clean out the threads with a wire brush. I had a feeling if I took it apart it might never be the same again : )

  9. Mark says:

    Hi mate just a quick question I have two no 52 1/2 made in England record vices In very good condition still has oil on but no rust and blue paint still great only couple small scrub marks from timber but no rust on front was wondering what price they would sell for approx as I am in Australia and none on eBay site to get idea

    • David Billinghurst says:

      Mark,

      I live in Melbourne. I have bought a Record 52 1/2 quick release, a 52 quick release and a 52D (slow release with dog) recently on ebay and gumtree. I paid just under AUD 100 for the 52 1/2 and just over AUD 50 for the 52’s. All were in reasonable but well used condition, with a little surface rust, paint splats, minor nicks, etc. I have since sold one of the 52s for a similar price – and the buyer paid to freight interstate.

      If you do an advanced search on ebay.com.au for “record 52 vice”, and check the “Sold listings” and “Only show items located in Australia” you will get a few hits.

      David

  10. Pierre Forget says:

    Hi Paul,
    My brother gave 2 Revord vises no 52E made in England, they are realy mest up, very rusty and some pieces are broken, cannot open them, I dont know if it is worht to keep the, I can send you photos of both vise, can you tell me if these are repairable and if so what shall i do?
    thanks

  11. Ben Fisher says:

    Paul,

    How good is the Jorgensen 41012 in comparison to the Record 52 1/2?

    I live in US and am just starting out in hand tool woodworking as a hobby.

    I have nothing right now except a moderately sturdy workbench (nothing like yours you’ve vlog’d) and nobody locally to look to in the age of apprentice-less-ness. So thanks for all you do. I’m excited.

    So anyway, I have no squares/clamps/saws/planes and no vise.

    I will probably go cheap — but not too cheap — for now and replace as I can since I have to buy a fair number of things at once (think Craftsman with the lifetime warranties).

    However I don’t want to replace a vise down the road and was wondering how these two compare.

    For me, it’s a $130 price difference eBay Record 52 1/2 vs Amazon Jorgensen easily with shipping which is almost comes to 2x price of the Jorgensen.

    While I’m at it, love the videos, blog and especially the master class site. Thanks for all you do.

    -Ben

    • The Jorgensen is a good vise and will last a lifetime. If you can find a quick release vise I think I would go for it. I no longer recommend Record Vises because I don’t know where they ae made or whether they live up to the old original models made by the original Record company.

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