2017 July 5    ToolsMetal & Shop

Introduction


A vise is a vise, huh?  Well, as we've seen, some vises are better than others.  This is one category where you get what you pay for. 

Discounted, the Yost 865-DI can often be had for $300 or less.  That makes it one of the more affordable USA-made bench vises.  So, is it worth it?  What's so good about it, really?

And, is it able to withstand heavy wrenching and pounding?  I wanted to answer that question for you, so I obtained a Yost 865-DI to review.  (No affiliation with the company, and I don't get free stuff.)

Let's get to it.




A Quick Note

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In This Article

Some Specs

The Unboxing

The Design

Weight Comparison

Rear-Stop Pin

One Problem

Solution

Heavy-Duty Test 1:  Unintended Thread Mismatch

Heavy-Duty Test 2:  The Rusty Bottle Jack of Excessive Mass

Conclusion


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Some Specs



Clamping Force:  probably about 4,500 pounds
Clamping Force to Bend Handle:  5,940 pounds
Enclosed Lead Screw?  YES
Handle Torque, Max. By Hand: 
Handle Torque to Bend:  140 ft-lb
Jaw Width:  6.5 inches
Jaws Open To:  7 inches (11" if you reverse them!!)
Made In:  USA
Made Of:  Ductile Iron
Main Screw Diameter:  7/8"
Mounting Hole Size:  bolted it down with 1/2" bolts before I could measure it.
Pipe Jaws?  YES  (capacity 1/8" to 3 1/2")
Price:  Retails for $457;  often available at a substantial discount here.
Ratio of Weight to Jaw Width:  7.5
Swivel Base?  YES, 360 degrees
Throat Depth:  4 inches (reversed, 3")
Weight:  49 pounds


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The Unboxing


This vise, like other Yosts that I've seen, was packed in a heavy-walled cardboard box that said "DO NOT DROP".  The packaging arrived in good shape. 

Right away I could see this was a serious vise with good castings.  And they packed it well, as they do with their other big vises.


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The Design

The 865-DI is a mechanic's vise with two anvils.  One of them is formed by the top surface of the static jaw.  The upper anvil provides a fairly large work surface.

Jaw opening is 7";  you can reverse the jaw to get even more, up to 11" or so.

You might see other vises that have this basic design.  They're not as good.  Only the 865-DI is made in USA from 65,000 psi ductile iron.  (That is, unless you count the 880-DI, which is the same vise but larger.)




Weight Comparison

The Yost 865-DI weighs 49 pounds.  It has a weight-to-jaw ratio of 7.5.  That puts it above 7, which as I've written in that article, is desirable. 

The Wilton 14600, Ken-Tool 64650, and Yost 865-DI have almost identical ratios.  But the 865-DI is made of ductile iron, has machined pipe jaws, and is made in USA. 


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Rear-Stop Pin

This has the same rear-stop design as other good vises (see photo).  This is how they're supposed to work.



I was glad to see this after having to deal with issues on a lower-priced 8-inch vise that I tested.


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One Problem


There is one problem that really stands out.  The spring that holds the main screw in the dynamic jaw has too much tension.



This makes the vise too difficult to open and close. 

If you've never used another vise, it may seem alright.  Yes, you can "sort of" use one finger to open and close the vise.  But it's fatiguing, and you're not paying $300 to buy a tool that fatigues you.

Good news:  the fix can be done in a few minutes.


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Solution


(Caution:  this might void the warranty;  do this at your own risk.  Disclaimer.)

Take out the main screw.  Drive out the roll pin with a hammer and punch.  Then remove that spring.  Don't throw it away, just in case.

Now, what goes in place of it?

First I thought I had a good idea, but it was time-consuming.  And it didn't work.  I got seven, 7/8" washers and stacked them between the two washers that were originally on there.  It was snug, so I removed the washers and sanded down two of them.  I thought maybe if I polished them enough, they'd form a bearing surface that could be oiled. 

After all that... it wasn't much of an improvement.

Here's what worked for me.  I kept all the 7/8" washers on there, but I removed one of the stock washers.  And that provided just enough room that the whole thing could turn without much effort.



Grease or oil the washers just to be sure.  I don't know whether this mod affects the service life of the vise;  don't say I didn't warn you.  But as I said, I found this vise to be almost unusable without this fix.  Your mileage may vary.


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Test 1:  Unintended Thread Mismatch


This vise is big enough that you can put another vise in it to work on it, within reason.  The 865-DI is about the minimum that I'd use for this.  (Stoutness is more important than jaw width in and of itself.) 

First I tried tapping something with a 3/4" fine-thread Grade 8 bolt made into a homemade tap.  Technically it was only supposed to be "thread-chasing", but you know how these jobs go.  I was trying to clean the rust out of threads in a heavy base that looked like a 3/4" NF thread pitch.  Well later I found it was some weird metric one.  But I didn't know this at the time;  so I figured that if I put a long enough wrench on it, the tap had to go in there. 

Brute force vs. the wrong thread-pitch.  Would the vise handle it?  (The third option is "tap breaks", but remember the tap is a 3/4" Grade 8 bolt...)

The threads were close enough that the tap seated quite a ways.  It took so much force that it polished the threads on the tap-bolt.  I almost thought it was going to cold-weld itself.  With all this force, the Yost vise stayed put.  I cranked it 'til the whole big table started to lurch away from the wall.


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Test 2:  The Rusty Bottle Jack Of Excessive Mass


WARNING:  don't hammer on hydraulic stuff that's pressurized.  If something breaks, bad things could happen.

A big, rusty, 25-pound bottle jack is too big to clamp in most vises.  It even looked oversized for this vise, but I decided to clamp it anyway.

To make it more challenging, the base of the jack was not square;  not even a rectangle.  I had to clamp it so the vise was only gripping about 1/2 to 2/3 of the base. 

The carrying handle was mashed.  It looked like someone ran over it with a truck.  The only way to fix it, it seemed, was to hammer it sideways until there was space to pry on it.  But hammering sideways on something in a vise requires some extreme gripping power.  If you don't clamp it securely, the whole jack will simply rotate away and down. 

Basically you have to find two parallel edges on the jack base.  Crank the vise as much as possible without using a cheater bar.  And hope you don't break the base of that jack, which is probably cast iron.  (Might want to wear this.  And read the Disclaimer again.)

All that hammering, and the jack did not move at all.  Clamping force was probably 4,000 to 4,500 pounds.  The handle on the 865-DI will bend at around 5,900 lbs.

The carrying handle was still not moving, either.  Hmmm... what now? 

This....



So much torque that it pulled the heavy table away from the wall.  But the jack was still absolutely solid in the vise;  no pivoting.  And the swivel base was unmoved.  Perfectly solid.

Because I got busy with other things, I left it clamped in there for a couple days.  With the jaws cranked to an estimated 4,000+ pounds of force.  Off center, in one side of the vise jaws

That would ruin a lot of cheaper vises.  The 865-DI was unaffected.  Heavy off-center clamping, for a couple days, and it was still good as new. 


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Conclusion

This is a strong, durable, useful vise.  The only real problem I found was the spring issue.  As I've shown, it's fairly easy to fix.

Is the Yost 865-DI the one vise that you'll ever have to buy?  The answer, I think, could be "Yes" overall, even if there are other vises with a higher weight-to-jaw-size ratio. 

A US-made Combination or Tradesman would provide more stoutness and clamping force.  The 865-DI is still among the most serious shop tools you can get, especially for the money.  Its dual-anvil design and reversible jaw give the 865 a couple of unique advantages.  And the machined, replaceable pipe jaws are almost unheard-of quality for a mechanic's vise. 

The 865-DI is not cheap, but you get what you pay for.  The vise should be a lifetime tool, not something to shoehorn into a cheap price-point.  The vise is a precision machine that has to withstand extreme mechanical forces.  Get a good one;  it's worth it.


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