Understanding the Bench Vise & Its Types
A vise is a mechanical apparatus that holds a segment of workpiece tightly in place. It’s used mostly in metal works and woodworking. It functions like extra strong and sturdy hands holding a workpiece. These devices also possess two clamps to help set the workpiece firmly in place. Many of these devices are attached to a bench, hence the term bench vise came into being.
Bench vises came into existence in many workshops before 1750. Clamping was done using a hammer and wedge. However, securely holding the work piece was hard since the tool could only move radially. In 1750, the introduction to a moveable horizontal jaw of the vise revolutionized the device. Then, anyone who needed to hold a work piece manipulated the movable half of the vise horizontal adjustment. The preferred construction material was die cast iron. However, with the numerous pores left after the metal settles, the vise didn’t have much tensile to withstand high compression. In 1830, the invention of manufacturing techniques using robust forged steel changed all these. The steel bench vise transformed the functions of a fastener with sturdy and compact materials that have enabled vise to manipulate increasingly tougher and heavier elements. This design and construction are considered the linchpin of the modern-day bench vise.
There are several types of vice for workbench. A front vise enables you to clamp a work piece at the edge of a workbench using two popping jaws on either side of the fastener. It also grips large parts utilizing the functions of a deadman as well as gripping elements on top of the workbench via a bench dog. These prevent the twisting of the work piece when you use only one clamp to hold your work plane.
An end vise is another type of a bench vise. It usually sits on the right-hand edge of a workbench and uses one central screw set to the corners of the bench top. It has a flexible jaw featuring multiple bench dog holes at the top aligned to the front row of dog holes on the workbench.
A front vise and an end vise are similar since they both have a screw and two rods. These features allow you to set your work either horizontally if you want to plan a board, or upright when you want to place dovetails along a work piece edge. But front vise offers more versatility in their gripping tasks.
Broadly, two types of bench vises exist - the woodworking vise and the engineering vise. The former is designed for wood pieces. Hence, it’s especially designed to clamp the timber work piece using jaws that are encased with wood. This trait prevents clamp marks from showing off on the work pieces.
The engineering type is mainly designed for metal works. It’s heavy enough to support the massive steel work pieces firmly. Further, it features a flat metal jaw designed to grip metal objects.
What to Do with a Bench Vise?
Bench vises are very versatile tools. They perform many functions, such as undertaking cutting, drilling, sanding or gluing.
A vise helps you to cut through or along the edges of work materials fast and precisely. Since the clamps secure the work piece firmly, there is no worry about wobbling or uneven cuts. Besides, it frees both your hands, so you work more quickly. Different uses of vices are stated below.
- Drilling a narrow hole through a thick board needs greater precision. Both the piece and the device have to be stable to produce a perfect drill. With a bench vise, you can drill to your specific measurements.
- Sanding is usually slow and boring. Besides, it produced much dust that hinders your proper assessment of the surface. This is why you need a bench vise to enhance the stability of the worktop. A firm surface allows you to apply more pressure finishing your work much faster and smoother.
- Gluing may be very messy if you smear incorrectly. And when the surface is uneven, it could spread to all unwanted locations. The best vices eliminate all these risks and allow you to apply glue at precisely when you intend. Further, a bench vise facilitates a faster and better drying of the adhesive.
How Does a Bench Vise Work?
A bench vise features clamps on both or one side adjustable with a screw to set a project in position. They have toggles to place the work piece upright or horizontally, depending on which side you plan to work on.
The bench vises can utilize the edge or center of a workbench. Besides, they are flexible to specific positions. These features make work easier since they enable you to hold a piece at the required height, location, and grip. Further, they allow you to use both hands freely.
As such, vices help you to ensure better drilling operation, cut precisely, and sand more evenly. Bench vises vary in sizes and capacities; therefore, you can capture a small precision or electronic tool snugly in position during repairs or construction.
How to Install a Bench Vise?
Since holding parts is all a bench vise does, it needs to be installed/mounted securely. Before you undertake the task, I would like you to get familiar with the machine thoroughly. You can fix them using any of the two methods.
Use a suitable attachment to clamp the vise to a worktop. These clamps have a top-to-bottom extension that can be affixed to the edge of the work surface easily and quickly.
The most stable method of installing a bench vise is to fit the tool on top of a worktop. You secure it with the bolt-in mounting so that it’s permanently fixed at the location.
There are some few unique techniques to fasten. You can use the vise supported on stands of optional base plates. These add-ons offer more accuracy when you are working on detailed jobs that need greater attention. Try to maintain a good position as it’s critical. Remember that the higher the vise; the better the production.
The latter method offers the necessary safety against working with heavy and sharp parts. The earlier way is convenient for light and small parts. You also enjoy shifts in positions as you work with a clamped devise.
But we recommend that bolt-in mounting method to improve the vise elevation to surface while at the same time avoid accidents.
What to Consider to Buy the Best Bench Vise?
I have undertaken a thorough assessment of the vise reviews to come up with this report. In this study, numerous features make a bench vise stand out from the rest. These traits are the determining factors that I used in order to establish the ranking of the best bench vices on this list:
These are the bench vise components that grip the wood or metal object during such manipulation. There are metal or wooden jaws. In case they are metallic but are designed mostly for woodwork, these jaws usually have a wooden bracing to help you avoid marring the work piece. The wood facing of a jaw is called a cheek. Most movable jaws have flexible dogs that brace the work against the stationary bench dog located flush to the work surface. You should consider the jaw size and style when looking for a good vise. I found flat jaws to be more versatile than others.
2. Swivel base
Most bench vises have rotating bases. These features allow for the planning of circular or angular cuts of the project materials. The bottom, therefore, is spiraled on a rotational gear that swivels horizontally, or diagonally to deliver more complex patterns. Further, swiveling allows for easy access to the concave areas of the work.
There are two mounting mechanisms on a bench vise. The bolt-on type features three or four bolts securing the bench top to the worktop. Bolting allows the bench vise to withstand higher pressure and heavy load. The clamp mounting system, on the other hand, is easier to set up. It is usually preferred when you desire to work temporarily at a location before removing the vise to another spot. Clamps work well where the work load is low. However, this mounting method doesn't provide the required security.
Sometimes, you need to hammer and straighten your project material. Hitting the worktop directly could damage the bracket clamps as well as the surface. Therefore, an anvil is necessary. An anvil is a flat metal top layered on top of the vise to withstand the impact of the hammer hits.
5. Quick Release
A screw is required to attach a clamp to the work material. Once the job is complete; you need to unfasten the latch. A quick release mechanism allows for an instant release of the spindle instead of manual twisting of the vise all the way after completing the job. Consider bench vise with this option. Not all models do have this feature. However, most of the choices (the best bench vises) you will come across here include this.
6. Griping Power
Gripping power refers to how securely the clamps hold a project piece. The larger the clamp mouth; the better the grip. A clamp mouth refers to the throat of the clamp from the top to the base that also influences the width and breadth of a piece it can securely grab. Others have grated/non-slip clamp tethered markings to secure the project materials against wobbling and sliding, even under intense pressure.
7. Price-to-Quality Ratio
When selecting your preferred bench vise, you need to assess the price to quality ratio. A higher ration denotes a better task handling from the bench vise.
Typically, a more expensive bench vise may come with quality material or additional features. However, this is not usually the case at all times. If your job is not particularly detailed, you may overlook some advanced features. Work environments that involve high humidity may invite the uses of outdoor bench vises with powder coating that helps prevent rusting.
How Did We Pick the Best?
Here at Drillly we have a standard reviewing and testing procedure that we have finalized after years of trial and error. When preparing this comprehensive Top 10 list, we also tried the follow the same procedure that involved several hours of research, testing by us and volunteers, checking online reviews, and finally finalizing the top picks.
To explain in detail, at first we researched online for around 22 hours to find out the most notable bench vises on the market that people are regularly buying and using. Then we listed down 25 bench vises based on their build quality, performance, user reviews, and convenience of use.
Then we began testing each of those bench vises ourselves and by a volunteer team we involved in the process. We ranked them one by one based on our experience as well as the feedback given by the volunteers. After shortlisting 15 bench vises from the top 25 list, we had again got back to online research and this time, we checked their reviews on Amazon and other woodworking sites to see what other users were talking about these bench vises.
After such a thorough reviewing procedure, we finalized the top 10 product list that we strongly believe will help you get your best match for any kind of woodworking project you’re going to start next.
Our Top 10 List
The following workbench vises made it to the top ten. We have chosen them keeping the above factors in mind. Each of these products is a champion in its class. But, the ones that stand out among these perform fairly well in all the categories.
The categories include the best value, premium brands, versatility, heavy-duty operations, as well as light duty functions.
We have hence ranked them after checking the details outlined on the ‘What to look for…’ section of this write-up.
You understand how risky it could be working with machine tools. Bench vises are no different. You could suffer a severe injury and even loss a limb if you throw caution out of the window. You, therefore, must exercise extreme care every time you are using a bench vise or any machine for that matter. Adhering to such precautions help you enjoy a long working relationship with your fastener.
- Use the right components: Don’t use any part of the vises for a different task. For example, don’t use a pipe grab to lock a metallic sheet. Further, don’t hammer a piece while clamped on a jaw. Use an anvil harness instead. This measure helps improve the stability and efficiency of the bench vise.
- Use the right equipment for the job. There are many bench vise brands, and each has its essential functions. Use the right vise for the right job. This saves time and improves efficiency.
- Wear ideal clothing: Safety outfit is important. You need to protect your ears, eyes, hands and even body against drops, freckles, and blasts. We urge you to use the correct size of googles, gloves, ear muffs and industrial shoes. You should also wear tight fitting and comfortable cloth while working with the bench vises.
The stability of the vise for workbench is everything. Therefore, set it firmly in place on top of a sturdy worktop that is supported by a firm foundation. Besides, test if for firmness before you start using it. In case it’s loose at the base, you risk minor inconveniences such as vibrations to significant accidents such as ripping the device out of the harness.
Care & Maintenance
When you take great care of your bench vise, you naturally derive greater value and joy when using this handy tool. You should develop a maintenance schedule to keep the device at a tip-top condition. Below are some of the factors you can keep in mind while caring for your beloved workhorse.
- Always clean the machine prior to use: During work, the workplace becomes messy with the bits and scraps from the machining. Some of these particles and residues could get stuck in the delicate segments of the machine leading to damage. Hence, wipe the tool and workplace to prevent such incidents.
- Inspection: Make a periodic inspection of the tool as you deem suitable. In case you want to perform an extended and intricate job, it’s wise that you check each element of the bench vise to ensure that it's correctly aligned and adequately fastened.
- Lubricate your bench vise: Cleaning and oiling your bench vise goes hand in hand. After wiping your machine, you also need to lubricate certain parts. Ensure that the moveable elements are well oiled and greased. Also, test the entire system for stability by refastening all screws and bolts again.
- Protect against weather conditions: When your bench vise is not in use, cover it to prevent dust and dirt from getting it. If you have a portable bench vise, you can remove it from the worktop and store in a closed box. These measures help prolong their lifespan while preventing the tools from rusting in case of high humidity.
You have now perused our woodworking bench vise reviews. From the report, you note that there are few and crucial factors that determine your selection of the best vise.
Vises come in many shapes and sizes. All these distinctions facilitate a wide range of functions while also performs particular tasks ranging from light duties to heavy professional craftsmanship.
A perfect bench vise has swivels. This function offers additional efficiency and delivers quality at a price that you can afford. So, apart from the price check for jaw widths, jaw throat, mounting bolts as well as the construction materials. These components determine how well the best bench vise will work.
Die-cast and stainless steel are favorable construction materials. They improve the lifespan of the vises. Regarding aesthetics, we discovered that circular body molds are smoother to work with although angular shapes provide more significant strengths. So check for a blend with these shapes and have warranties.
To conclude, the professional we contacted for this vise reviews concur that you derive a better value for money if start with small dives and grow as your aptitude and workload increases.