Like everything else in the modern United States, hand and shop tools have been split into an upper class and a lower class. The upper class is the Made In USA stuff like Snap-On and SK; the lower class is Harbor Freight and the various Chinese tool brands you find in Lowe’s and AutoZone. We used to have a middle class, the USA-made Craftsman tools that kept the Sears brand alive a solid decade past its sell-by date, but as of late Craftsman has mostly decamped to the Chinese side of things. (They’re trying to come back, now that Trump The Great Satan has leveled the playing field with China a little bit, and I hope they succeed in this.)
Over the past thirty-five years I’ve made it a habit to buy the best tools I could afford, even when I didn’t have any money. That’s why I had (and still have!) Park spoke wrenches that cost eight bucks a pop when I was making two dollars an hour after taxes, and it’s why I have SK ratcheting box wrenches nowadays. One thing I never had was any kind of rolling shop stool, even though it would have improved my quality of life quite a bit over the past decade as my back has increasingly complained about leaning over to change wheels on cars and adjust derailleurs on bikes. This was partly due to the fact that I didn’t expect any $30 Harbor Freight stool to hold up for any length of time, but it was really a matter of snobbishness. How could I feel good about rolling a crooked Chinese stool back and forth between my Herman Miller benches and tables? Better to just pull out a Miller wire base table out and sit on it.
Doing that sucks, by the way.
So now I have something new: the USA-made, painstakingly-machined, no-expense-spared Vyper Chair, complete with custom embroidery. And it’s already proving to be indispensable, admittedly for a quite depressing reason.
Every piece of the Vyper Chair is industrial grade, top-tier, machined parts, locally sourced right here in Wisconsin.
The arms are machined with industrial grade steel and powder coated to keep from chipping and loss of color from use.
Holding everything together is the center hub & center screw, both machined out of aluminum.
Last but not least, our industrial 4″ casters allow you to glide like butter and roll over everything on the ground. No more getting stuck on shrapnel and wires. Made in the USA also.
The base Vyper is $475, with steel caster arms. I went bucks-up a bit and bought the aluminum one. Doing that gets you a lot more Grade 8 bolts and some truly nice machined pieces. As with the best bicycles and hand-fabbed race cars, it’s transparently obvious how each piece was made. Most of it appears to be CNC-milled. There’s no slop in the assembly; my son and I put it together without checking for level and it turned out to sit absolutely perfectly just by tightening all the bolts. Everything’s a hole, not a slot, with the exception of the flange that attaches the circular steel footrest to the caster flanges.
The casters appear well-nigh indestructible. The threaded rod that both supports and adjusts the stool is true enough that there’s no visible flutter in the stool as you spin it up and down, nor is there any binding in the threads.
It took the Vyper Chair folks under a week to do custom embroidery on the seat, featuring my usual Kraken graphic in baronial green. Having in a past life had a small amount to do with technical stitching layout, I’m very impressed by the way they did it; the stitching on the arms curves, for example. This sort of thing takes extra time to do and very few people will appreciate it.
As fate would have it, I have plenty of time to appreciate this shop stool at the moment because I’m using it to roll around my house while I wait for my recently-bolted-together right leg to reach weight-bearing status. Some of my readers will no doubt lampoon this thing as being in the same category as Richard Anderson suits or Edward Green shoes, which is to say a fun way to spend twenty times the price of a normal item to get something of equal utility, but I also think that my Vyper Chair will be rolling long after three or four of its cheaper competitors would have given up the ghost. I think it looks great next to my bikes, all of which cost multiples of this thing anyway. If you have a garage that could use a little beautification, maybe you should give Vyper Chair a look.