Poorly cast iron, with many casting defects filled with bondo, with a nice paint to cover the crime... As you can guess, all of this is going away the first time you use a blowtorch or a hammer.
The "mechanical" part is no better, the screw is made of lower-grade steel (the kind of steel used to shoe rabbits, as we say in french), the nut is tiny, secured only with a 4mm screw that broke on first use...
Pictures are worth a thousand words they say, here's what the beast looks like after only 3 years of occasional, osft & gentle usage. I does not even work anymore, the threading in the nut is mostly gone, one as to apply quite a lot of torque to actually tighten the vise, and if you tight it a too manly, the threads just "skip".. Pure bliss.
But this was BEFORE.
Found on LeBonCoin (our french equivalent of Craigslist), for merely the same price I paid for the shity chinese thing, a beautifully restored "Sambre et Meuse"!
For those of you who don't know about that brand, Sambre et Meuse is a steelworks company, founded in the early 40's, that produced this kind of tools until 2009 (when they sold that branch of their activity to Dolex). The company still exists today, their main activity being large steel castings for train industry.
These vises are well known upon machinists for being sor of the "Rolls" of them all, dating back from an era when we had a flourishing industry in France, producing high quality stuff...
My new vise ain't perfect, with a few saw marks on the jaws, but it's very clean for a tool that's probably around 40 years old. It's completely made out of steel (all 14kg of it), and turns with the slightest push of a finger!
Its previous owner lives more than 2 hours drving from my place, so thank you Thierry for picking it up for me while I was arranging logistics!
Anyway, my point is : if on a garage sale you were ever to find a "Sambre et Meuse", make sure you don't miss that oportunity ; they don't make'em like that anymore!