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Hi Andy,
I think Kurt held the original patent for the "angle lock" mechanism. Now that the patent has expired, there are dozens of clones. Kurt still sets the standard for milling machine vises. There are some better but they are still based on the Kurt design.
I have a 6" Kurt and a bunch of 6" clones. The Kurt is definitely more accurate and operates much more smoothly. They all hold parts tightly, but the real key to a milling machine vise is its ability to hold parts in a very exact location. From part to part, the Kurt can repeat the location to within a few tenthousandths. The fixed jaw on the clones tends to flex a bit, so they can only repeat to within a few thousandths. The steel and cast iron on the Kurt is also much better and more accurately ground. The beds and jaws on the clones aren't nearly as flat.
The Kurt is worth it if you need the accuracy and reliability. Mine is more than 10 years old and is still more accurate than any of the clones. If the parts aren't so critical, then the clones are just fine (especially at less than half the price!).
Ed Bennett snipped-for-privacy@ts-aligner.com http://www.ts-aligner.com
Andrew Barss wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@ts-aligner.com wrote: : Hi Andy,
: I have a 6" Kurt and a bunch of 6" clones. The Kurt is definitely more : accurate and operates much more smoothly. They all hold parts tightly, : but the real key to a milling machine vise is its ability to hold parts : in a very exact location. From part to part, the Kurt can repeat the : location to within a few tenthousandths.
That's the bit I was unaware of -- I have no metalworking or milling experience, and didn't know the vise is used to locate parts. Thanks for the info!
    -- Andy
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On Sun, 26 Nov 2006 02:31:24 +0000 (UTC), Andrew Barss

Yep, but not in the case of the Wilton bench vise that started the tread- those are a different beast.
I'd imagine the big cost difference comes with the quality of the casting- most bench vises have an anvil surface for pounding on, and a cheap one is liable to have voids that could break the whole thing the first time you use it.
But a cast-iron *anything* that size for $120 is a pretty good price, IMO.
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