A better mousetrap: Fireball Tool builds the ultimate DIY bench vise
Fireball Tool was born out of frustration, namely Jason Marburger’s frustration while trying to use a carpenter’s tool to do a metal fabricator’s job. Marburger built a robust square for clamping material during fabrication, and his creation of a better mousetrap led him to instructional welding and fabrication videos that highlight some of his innovative and inspiring builds.
Marburger’s fabrication shop is massive and his machines, as well as his skill in using them, are impressive. We all wish we could have a mill, a lathe, a shaper, and a 3-axis CNC waterjet cutter, but one of his latest videos, while definitely enhanced by his access to such a tool, relies much more on basic fabrication to create a piece of equipment that is used quite often in just about every garage: a bench vise.
Marburger’s design is sturdy, simple, and inexpensive to build. Its size is massive, so even if scaled down a bit to weigh less than its 90-pound total, it could service most garage needs. It uses easy-to-source materials including rectangular tubing, plate steel, nuts, thrust washers, and all-thread. Everything but the swivel mounting plate could be fabricated by just about anyone with a welder, a means to cut metal, and some free time.
We really enjoyed this video, and it might inspire us to try a similar project of our own, because after looking through our local classifieds, the best vise brands are hard to find—and when they are for sale, they aren’t cheap.
Marburger even tested some cheap vises against his own creation and some of the better brands out there.
That video is also worth a watch, although if you’re sentimental about old cast iron, you may have to look away from time to time.