Old Wilton Vise Identification? What You Should Know

One of the most popular questions I get asked is about the old Wilton Vise identification. Many people ask me about vintage vises and see if I know how old they are, and unfortunately, I can only guess. This is because many manufacturers don’t add date stamping to vises, so there aren’t many clues to work with.

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Some people can investigate the style of the vise to see what year it was designed in, though this is just a ballpark date. Other clues include patent date markings, which you can estimate an issue date from. But if you own a Wilton vise, then not to worry, it’s actually easier!

While there is a lot of misconception and inaccurate information online, I did the research to help you out. So read on as I talk about your Wilton vise models and how to find out the date it was manufactured.

Old Wilton Vise Identification

old wilton vise identification
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If you aren’t familiar with it yet, the slide key you see on Wilton vises have dates stamped on it. These dates indicate when the vise was ready to be released or for sale.

You can find the slide key in the body of the vise, which keeps its front jaw from rotating. It’s a square length of key stock, fitting to grooves of the vise.

To find the slide key, you just need to unscrew it all the way and flip it over. You’ll see that there is a date stamp in various formats, usually mentioning just the date and year.

So for example, if you see numbers like 9-945, it indicates that the vise was ready for sale in September 1945. Others look like 9-50, which indicated in September 1950. Some also look like 5-20-60, which indicates that it was made on May 20, 1960.

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GUAR EXP On Your Slide Key?

Another thing to look at is the GUAR EXP above the dates. This means that the date doesn’t indicate the release, but its expiration. I’ll be getting into this later on.

wilton vise date code
OpenClipart-Vectors / Pixabay

Some slide keys come without any date stamps at all, while others have typos that show the wrong dates. If ever you received one without a stamp, this just goes to show that it was either released accidentally, or they were made early even before Wilton added the slide key.

Another thing you should know is that date stamps may NOT be a manufacturing date. This is because castings would sit unused for years at a time, so vises could have date stamps that were made long after the vise was cast! This makes the process of learning about your scout vise manufacturing date even more difficult. I’ll explain it in more detail on the next sections, so continue reading on!

Finding Out the Date Your Wilton Vise Was Made

I last mentioned that some vises may have inaccurate dates because castings may have been made even before manufacturing vises. For example, Wilton stopped making vises back in 1957 (in Chicago), however, vises that have Chicago castings show date stamps two decades LATER.

vintage wilton vise
katya10 / Pixabay

This indicates that the casting molds were used after moving, or they made castings before moving. Then, these castings were made into complete vises to release. Most of the vises have smaller models which were most likely not sold to many. As a result, experts, presume they were cast in Chicago and weren’t finished unless needed, which may have been years later.

People agree that Wilton began creating vises in 1941, with sources showing these were for military or government contracts. This was done until World War II ended. Wilton’s founder, Hugh Vogl, filed a design patent for his vise in 1941 and was approved in 1942. This was quick for a patent approval process, and it may be due to World War II.

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In Summary

This is where GUAR EXP comes into place, which stands for guarantee expiration

With all this being said, it seems to show that from the years 1941-1944, Wilton vises had no date stamp on its slide key. After a few years, the company changed the date stamp and product guarantees. Data shows that Wilton began stamping the date of when the guarantee expires instead of the date of sale.

This is where GUAR EXP comes into place, which stands for guarantee expiration. It shows the month and year that shows when the guarantee loses effectivity. This created a lot of confusion, so they stopped doing this in 1960. So now, we know that unless it has GUAR EXP on the date, it refers to the actual manufacturing date.

For unstamped vises, they are most likely made between 1941-1944. And that’s how you find out the fate from your old Wilton vise identification!

Where Else to Learn About Old Wilton Vises

You can begin the thread in this blog in the comment section right below.

I know how difficult it must be looking for more information regarding the old Wilton vise identification. Like mentioned, a lot of people are still looking through it, too!

That’s why it’s fortunate many people publish in forums to give light to various queries on the topic. Similar to this article, there are experts who have contributed to forums and blogs that show accurate findings and knowledge on Wilton vises.

So do you want to read on further about these, including information on the Wilton Bullet Vise? Then you can find various forums with users that post their findings online. Or, you can begin the thread in this blog in the comment section right below.

Wrapping It Up

When it comes to owning a Wilton vise, it’s a bit easier to figure out when it was manufactured, but takes some research. As long as you have a Wilton vise date code and brush up on your history, you’ll know more about your vise. Fortunately, many professionals have continued to contribute to these common queries to help us out even further!

I hope this article on the old Wilton vise identification helped you learn when your vise was made. So don’t wait any longer and begin checking your vintage Wilton vise yourself now!

If you have any questions or want to share your knowledge on the Wilton 4 vise, then comment below. Your thoughts are much appreciated!

Click here to see pictures of common Wilton vises on Amazon