While a post or leg vice is not necessary to get started in blacksmithing it is one of those things that is very nice to have. Further of the blacksmiths tools you need the ones you cannot make yourself are the anvil and the post vice. New they are $700 and up plus shipping, on eBay they are $150 and up (again plus shipping) or you can watch Craigslist. There is also the option of asking around as you never know who will have what. I missed out on an anvil from a guy at work where he just wanted it gone, I’m still kicking myself about that. Think about some old-time farmers as they often repaired things themselves in days past and now that they are retired or semi-retired there could be some of this kind of stuff sitting unused.
What makes a blacksmiths leg vice different is it is designed to take a beating. First of all they are massive, often times 40″ tall and weigh in the 100 lb range. Notice the leg or post that goes all the way to the ground to transfer the force from striking your work down to the ground. Further the screw goes through two eyes forged in the clamping jaws, this isolates the screw from any striking forces applied to the jaws while you force the metal to the shape you want it. When I think what most of us use a vice for I think this is a much better choice than the machinist vice that you normally find for sale in hardware stores. I was fortunate enough to buy what amounts to a full but small blacksmith’s shop after searching for close to a decade and it included this leg vice. I’m not sure how old it is but it is all I can do to lift and carry it. Now that my house is built I can turn my attention to assembling my smithy. Even if you never plan on doing blacksmithing, a leg vice is a good tool for anyone’s homestead. This is also a word of caution, if you have a “regular” vice don’t strike it or something clamped in it very hard as it can really mess up the screw.