A Vise is a Useful Tool

Today’s post was written by The Deer Hunter.

vise on a workbench

When I was a young boy, I was blessed with a whole lot of freedom. I roamed the creeks and fields around our house at will, usually alone.

We had a shed in the end of the yard. My dad called it the smokehouse. Inside the shed along one wall was a work bench upon which was mounted an old vise.

Being a curious young fellow, I always wanted to know how things worked. I spent a lot of time in the shed tinkering on one thing or another. It was during this time that I learned how important having a vise really is. Today I consider it the very center of any workshop. From hammering, to cutting, grinding, welding, or gluing things together, a vise will hold most any material for these kinds of projects.

In the mid 1970s, dad bought the first weedeater I’d ever seen and before long he had me using it. But just running it wasn’t enough for me, I had to know how this contraption worked, so I clamped it in the vise and totally disassembled it.

You can imagine dad’s reactions when he saw what I had done. He was furious that I took apart his $400 weedeater. He said “It better be put back together and it better run!”

I reassembled the weedeater and we used it for years afterward. Taking things apart and putting them back together is how I learned to work on and fix things and the vise played an important role in my learning.

Today, many years later, I still use a vise on a regular basis. In fact, it is the very same vise I used as a child. I brought it with me when I moved from home and started my own family. It was old when I was a boy and now it’s even older. It makes me smile to know how long I’ve used it and to know its still just as useful as the day it was made.

The Deer Hunter

Subscribe for FREE and get a daily dose of Appalachia in your inbox

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    April 5, 2020 at 7:58 pm

    Thanks Tipper for sharing that. Good thing you have the Deer Hunter to work on things to fix them.

  • Reply
    Kenneth Ryan
    April 3, 2020 at 1:24 pm

    What a wonderful post. I have the same feelings about a good old heavy vise. I grew up tinkering and fixin’ things too and majored in Industrial Arts in college so I could teach “shop”. I feel very ‘alive’ in my home workshop among my tools.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 3, 2020 at 1:21 pm

    I’ll tell you what. If you’ll give me that old rusty wore out vise, I’ll buy you a brand new one with paint on it from Harbor Freight. And I’ll do you one better. I’ll buy you a Harbor Freight anvil to go with it. Just to help you out. How could anybody turn down a deal like that? Ain’t I nice!

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    April 3, 2020 at 1:02 pm

    The Deer Hunter is a Special kind of Man. He’s a lot like my Dad, he could fix anything. I can see why Tipper chose him and his Many talents.

    I was on the Nantahala River with them all and watched them catching Trout like nobody’s business. Tipper saw me walking by and she had told me earlier that she didn’t have a license. She hollered at me and said “How many are we allowed?” I said, “if the Warden don’t come by and see you polking them Fish in the plastic bag you’re holding, Youn’ze are allowed 21.” Immediately they all closed up shop and was ready to go to Ledbetter Creek where we was to have a Cook-Out.

    On the way back out, I developed Acid Reflux real bad and nearly wrecked. Matt saw what had happened and he stopped and came running up. When I told him I was sick, he gave me a cold bottle of water. It helped, but I had to get back to the Shop to my medicine.

    I apologized for my behavior, they understood, but I was looking forward to Ledbetter and having a Cook-out. …Ken

  • Reply
    Cheryl Christensen Bennett
    April 3, 2020 at 12:48 pm

    I love this story. It reminds me of my husband and his father (although a variation). My husband was bedridden with polio when he was young (beginning at 4). His father was an aeronautical engineer so to keep his son occupied, he would give him things to take apart, figure out how they worked and then put back together. This has led to my husband’s life-long fascination with how things work too. It also led to him being a metalsmith and figuring out how to create/fabricate one of a kind objects. He just finished making Victorian speaking tubes with working whistles.

  • Reply
    Sue McIntyre
    April 3, 2020 at 12:39 pm

    Deer hunter, I enjoyed your post. My older brother was like that. When he was 9 years old, people were bringing their tillers, lawn mowers, and other machines for him to fix. He often used my Grandpa’s vice in the hall of the barn. He made pretty good money in the late sixties for a 9 year old. I was blessed with 2 boys, now men, who had the same intrest in taking perfectly good machines and electronics apart to see how they worked. Their Daddy had a hard time with it too. Now they are grown, I can honestly say it was worth it. Not much they can’t do. Both work in construction, constantly learning and perfecting their talent. Thanks for the memories. P.S. I managed to “inherit” that vice. Haven’t found a surface strong enough to mount it on. Too bad I couldn’t move that old barn with it. LOL

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    April 3, 2020 at 12:17 pm

    Thanks for such a good story Deer Hunter onthe vice .

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    April 3, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    Tipper what a lovely talented family of your. I enjoyed Deer Hunter story so much. I had to chuckle I too as a small girl had to find out how things ticked Only I called it operating on my dolls. I opened the chest cloth doll to see how it ‘s cryer ticked the I sewed her back up but mine didn’t turn out as well as Deer Hunters dad’s weed eater. Take care of such a precious family .

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    April 3, 2020 at 11:21 am

    My oldest brother was a lot like that. He would take apart stuff–sometimes someone else”s stuff! He could fix old cars and keep them running and work on the old televisions and radios. I’m not sure what the radios he has had for years are called. They transmit long distances & he works on them for other people.

  • Reply
    April 3, 2020 at 10:50 am

    I was a kid like the Deer Hunter. Grandpap took it in stride when curiosity led me to take his power mower apart to see how it worked, since it still ran after I put it back together. But he got alarmed when he heard his old Dodge start up. He came out the door expecting to see a thief making off with his car. He was relieved but not amused to find it was only his 14 year-old grandson hot wiring the engine.

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    April 3, 2020 at 10:09 am

    Good post, I like the way you write.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    April 3, 2020 at 9:42 am

    A body can become mighty fond of a tool which proves itself useful and reliable over and over again, whether it’s a vise, hammer, saw, hoe, plow or even a power tool. Daddy got to where, after having tools he’d loaned showing some abuse when returned, that he simply would say that he didn’t loan his tools. I don’t blame him; I’ve come to that point myself.

    In addition, there’s a special feeling about using a hand tool that someone left you when they took their leave of this old earth.

  • Reply
    April 3, 2020 at 9:05 am

    My oldest grandson is a lot like the Deer Hunter when it comes to fixing things. When he spent time with me as a little boy, I would watch him open the doors on kitchen appliances and turn his little head as in deep thought as he pushed buttons on the microwave and dishwasher. He just couldn’t resist taking a portable radio apart to see where that sound was coming from. He’s still very much like that today. His dream was to be a cop. He got his degree about the time we saw big changes in the police departments around the country. He decided to do something else that required manual labor. He loves fixing things on his job that pays twice as much as law enforcement and is 100% safer.

  • Reply
    Joe Mode
    April 3, 2020 at 8:57 am

    When I was just a kid I spent an enormous amount of time in my neighbor’s wood shop and learned a great deal from him on just about everything having to do with woodworking, carpentry, stained glass, whittling, construction, roofing, felling trees, chopping wood, wood and tree types, how to sharpen tools, fix or repair things, start fires, sailing, and a great many other things. His massive work bench was made with 6” X 6” legs, 4’ X 8’ overall and had two vices, one on one end for any work involving metal, and one on the other end for any work involving clamping or sawing wood. I took all of this knowledge with me as I grew older and got married. When I finally had room for my own shop, I built a massive work bench like my neighbor’s, one that could hold a car engine if needed, complete with the two necessary wood and metal vices. If you love working with your hands, and like being self-sufficient, you need this stuff for sure. Deer man needs to tell us more.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    April 3, 2020 at 8:55 am

    I’ve had a vise for many years and now I have my Dad’s large vice. Even as a boy I would catch my Papaw Lewis gone and couldn’t resist slipping into his blacksmith shop and using his forge, anvil, and vise.
    I’ve took things apart all my life to fix or just to see how they work but all things weren’t successful. One of my failures about 45 years ago was an old wringer washer. After buying new parts and still couldn’t get it to work I kicked it over the hill and hauled it to the dump. Went to Sears and bought a new automatic washer.
    I still do all my v-hickle repair that I can do but it’s not like working on the old cars and trucks I grew up with. There is so much geegaw computer junk on the newer ones.

  • Reply
    carol harrison
    April 3, 2020 at 8:47 am

    In the 1940’s my oldest brother took apart all the toys, doll buggy wheels, wagon wheels, etc. just to see what made them work. He built tinker toy windmills and other projects to understand the dynamics. He has past away now but I think of him often now when I see a young man with his head under the hood of an older model car. He had an 1941 Chevy in the 50’s and always had his head under the hood.

  • Reply
    April 3, 2020 at 8:45 am

    That was a wonderful story! When my Daddy had a ranch home built for us in the mid 50″s he did a lot of the work inside to save money. It had a double garage and he built a long table on one side with a big vise on it. He didn’t have a lot of money for furniture for the living room and dinning room so he made a desk combination radio/record player. coffee table, end tables, china cabinet and dinning room table. He used that vise a lot and when I married my husband had one too that he used. Now our sons have them and use them all the time. It is a useful tool! I’m glad the deer hunter was able to put that weed eater back together where it would work cause it sure sounded like there was going to be a whuppin or lecturing. Actually, I would have rather got a whuppin than a lecture.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 3, 2020 at 8:37 am

    I’m sure glad there are Mr. Fixits in the world. I am not one. I have a dim memory (at least I think it is a memory) of one of the famous men in US history taking apart his father’s watch as a boy to see how it worked. Like your story, he did successfully put it back together. I call that very brave. I wouldn’t try it. Machines and I don’t get along well.

    Your story reminds me of the old anvil that was at my Grandma’s old place. I don’t know where it got off to. I have not seen an anvil in many a long day.

  • Reply
    Leon Pantenburg
    April 3, 2020 at 8:28 am

    Great post Deer Hunter – write more!
    I agree about the vise – wish I had my Dad’s old one!

    • Reply
      L.A. Rickman
      April 3, 2020 at 11:41 am

      Nice story.
      I know the importance of all the tools my Dad had. NOW.
      As the youngest child and only girl, I had good reason to be fearful of the vise.
      Seeing my #2 and #3 brothers often threaten to put my hand in the vuse.
      “If I didn’t go back inside and stop folling them around.”
      I am still a tomboy, and have all my fingers.

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney
    April 3, 2020 at 8:23 am

    Deer Hunter,
    Vice Grips are also pretty handy to have around.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 3, 2020 at 7:54 am

    I’ve never known anyone that can work on things like you do. Your the best and can fix anything. We all count on you to fix anything that is torn up. I love the way you just look at it first and study it before you touch it, just thinking about how it works.
    I have an old vice attached to the workbench in my shed. It comes in handy. I like to work on things too. When I moved to Murphy a few years ago one of the things that attracted me to this little house out in the country was the tool shed and work bench behind the house and it has a fine vise the one in today’s picture.
    Thanks for the post and yes, you should share more stories with us!

  • Reply
    William Dotson
    April 3, 2020 at 7:42 am

    I agree about the vise, I still use mine a lot also. I know about taking apart and put it back together, this is how I learned to repair vehicles of all sorts, I started working as a professional mechanic at Alvin Cummins Chevrolet in Maysville, Kentucky in 1969

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    April 3, 2020 at 7:18 am

    My husband brought a few tool from his childhood to our home too. He went to them first when he needed a tool.

  • Reply
    Kevin, Cheryl, & Zach
    April 3, 2020 at 6:44 am

    What a great story! I read it aloud to Kevin, and we both really enjoyed it. The Deer Hunter should share stories with us more often! 🙂 May God bless all of you and keep you safe and healthy continually.

  • Reply
    April 3, 2020 at 6:27 am

    Sounds just like my childhood, we had nice neighbors that owned a lot of land, one neighbor who’d owned the most told us one time, boys, I don’t mind you playing on my property just don’t leave the gates open, he owned a lot of cattle. My Dad kept things running around our place from Mom’s dryer to the lawnmowers, you name it, even seen him rebuild the motor on his Old truck out under an Ole oak tree, leaned a lot from watching my Dad.

  • Leave a Reply