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TM reader rrcarlson12 posted some pics of the ViseGrip locking pliers above to the TM photo pool. He writes: “They have a patent date of 1942 and don’t have a separate release lever. But these weren’t made by Irwin, who released a similar model within the last few years as stated in the post on CH Hanson locking pliers.”

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Indeed! The “new” Irwin ViseGrips without a release lever seem to work pretty much the same way as the ones pictured. (Check the photo pool for additional photos, including some closeups of the mechanism.) As far as I can tell the only major difference between the modern ones and the WWII-era pliers are the thermo-plastic rubber overmolds.

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Of course, what I don’t get is why more tool companies don’t point out this heritage. Seriously, there’s nothing in the world wrong with recognizing a good thing from the past and bringing it back. Good ideas combined with modern materials and manufacturing technology make for some of the most kick-ass tools available. We’ve suggested for some time that companies like Stanley, Irwin, and others — those who have long histories and have recently bought/absorbed other companies that have long histories — should keep that heritage front and center. Bring back some of the “old” products (with modern upgrades, of course) and tell us how they built the future upon which we stand.

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11 Responses to Back to the Future: Lever-less ViseGrips From 1942

  1. Dan says:

    As someone who grew up with Vise-Grips without the release lever, I’ll take the ones with the release lever anytime. I recall many pinched fingers while trying to get the grip to release.

  2. Dave says:

    Is Petersen Manufacturing so soon to be forgotten?

  3. IronHerder says:

    My guess is that Petersen Manufacturing tools will not be forgotten, because good tools survive, and their reputation grows.

  4. fred says:

    Of course Irwin is just a subsidiary of Newell-Rubbermaid – so big fish eat little fish applued to them as well

  5. rob says:

    well I am sure we just read a post last week about vise grips

    comparing old to new
    but I do agree the heritage should be remembered
    stanley themselves have a huge history most of which is lost save for what you find at flea markets and garage sales

  6. Dr Bob says:

    I have one of those lever-less old Vise-grips I got from my late father-in-law’s estate. I think mine’s a No. 10 as well.

    I thought it was supposed to have a lever, but it must have gotten lost, but no, it’s exactly like the one pictured. I’ll have to check it out and see if there’s a date on it.

  7. Brau says:

    I recall my dad having a set like these and having to use a screwdriver to pry the handles open, at which point they usually went flying across the room. Dad wasn’t one to spend money needlessly but he did replace these with a levered pair at some point and these remained in the bottom drawer … until another levered set showed up and the old ones disappeared. Progress is good!

  8. Dick says:

    I also have a similar tool that was my father’s. The ViceGrip logo is not on the tool, but the release handle has a 1940′s patent date and is stamped “Vice-Grip DeWitte, NEBR.”

  9. IronHerder says:

    @Dick, Either you have a knock off of the real thing or your bifocals need adjustment, because the genuine article would be stamped “Vise-Grip”, not “Vice-Grip”, and “DeWitt”, not “DeWitte”. Just sayin’.

  10. MATT EHRENBERG says:

    I JUST FOUND IN MY TOOLBOX IN THE PLIER DRAWER A SET OF 7 W VISE GRIPS WITHOUT THE RELEASE LEVER THEY HAVE TWO PATENT NUMBERS ON THEM AND SAY APRIL 14 1942. I STILL USE THEM FOR A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING FROM WORKING ON MOWERS, FENCES, AND TAKING DOWN A PORCH SWING IN THE FALL TO PUT IT IN STORAGE. I FOUND MINE AT A FLEA MARKET 10 YRS AGO AND ONLY PAID $7.00 FOR THEM AND THE BEST MONEY THAT I SPENT.

  11. MATT EHRENBERG says:

    ABOUT SIX OR SEVEN YEARS AGO I FOUND A SET OF 7R AND 7WR LEVER LESS/SINGLE LEVER VISE GRIPS WITH ONE PATENT NUMBER AND A DATE STAMP OF APRIL 14 1942. THESE STAMPS ARE ON BOTH 7″ PAIRS OF VISE GRIPS. I USE THE 7″ ONES TO WORK ON MOWERS, TAKE DOWN A PORCH SWING IN THE FALL AT A FRIEND’S RIVER PROPERTY. EVEN HAVE USED THE 7″ ONES TO FIX A NEIGHBORS GATE ON HIS CHAIN LINK FENCE DUE TO A STORM TAKING IT DOWN. LAST FRIDAY I WENT TO MY LOCAL FLEA MARKET AND FOUND A NO 10 PAIR OF VISE GRIPS SINGLE LEVER WITH PATENT NUMBER AND APRIL 14 1942 ON IT WHO EVER OWNED THESE PAINTED THEM WITH ALUMINUM PAINT BUT OTHER THAN THAT THEY ARE IN GREAT COND. WHEN I BOUGHT THEM THE INSIDE SPRING WAS TWISTED SO I CONTACTED VISE GRIP AND THEY SENT ME A PACKAGE OF 10″ SPRING’S SO I COULD FIX THEM JUST DID THIS YESTERDAY HAVENT HAD A CHANCE TO USE THEM YET BUT I CANT WAIT TO GET TO USE THEM .

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