10 Classy Bench Vise – Make the Right Choice in 2020

Looking for the new bench vise for your workshop?

We’ve sifted through hundreds of competing bench vise models to give you an overview of the 10 best bench vises on the market in 2018.

Whether you are a homeowner with a DIY workshop or the manager of a woodworking or metal fabrication shop, these bench vises will be the first choices you’ll want to consider when it’s time to buy a new vise.

Let’s look at the roundup for 2018.

What Is a Bench Vise?

Have you ever had trouble sawing a piece of wood laying on a bench? It’s not easy, is it?

The wood moves around too much to get a straight cut. That may be fine for home projects but not for projects that require precision fits. You need something to hold the piece you’re working within place. That something is called a bench vise.

A bench vise is a clamp used to hold an object stationary in order to do some sort of precision or difficult work on it, such as grinding, sawing, drilling, or bending. A bench vise is a simple and versatile tool for manual piecework for any home or professional workshop.

Buying Guide

How Does a Bench Vise Work?

Josef Heuer is the bench vise inventor who made it in 1925. The modern bench vise is an ingeniously simple and effective tool that can make many fabrication tasks less cumbersome and more precise. Bench vises consist of two jaws made of cast iron or steel that are used as a clamp to hold a part firmly in place so it doesn’t move.

A bench vise works by moving a sliding jaw with a screw that cranks it forward and backwards on a slide. This sliding jaw can hold a part against the stationary jaw and tighten to the desired amount of pressure needed. Most bench vises have sliding jaws on the outside, facing the operators, but there are vises that have the sliding jaw on the inside and the stationary jaw facing the user.

Bench Vise Accessories

As elementary a workshop tool as they are, bench vises have a number of accessories that can help make them more versatile. You can look through these common examples of bench vise accessories to consider the many ways a vise can be used.

  • Bench vise stands

Would a bench vise be more useful if you could move it around the shop?

That’s the idea behind bench vise stands. A bench vise is intended to be mounted on a stable surface like a workbench and remain stationary, but a way to make a vise mobile is to mount it on a stand instead. A stand makes it possible to move the vise around and also to adjust the height that it sits.

  • Bench vise blocks

Do you work with round or irregularly shaped parts?

Bench vise blocks can make holding them in place much easier by added a molded shape to the vise’s jaws to match the piece you’re working with. Most bench vises are designed to allow a variety of blocks to be mounted on their jaws for special jobs.

  • Bench vise jaw pads

Are you planning to work with painted parts or soft materials?

Also sometimes called jaw covers, jaw pads are available that are made of soft materials. They’re designed to protect parts from scratches or deformation when you tighten the jaws onto them.

Vise pads are often rubberized and can also be magnetic to both protect delicate surfaces and hold small metal pieces in place. Like vise blocks, vise pads are mounted on the inside of a bench vise’s jaws.

A Buyer’s Guide to Choosing the Best Bench Vise for You

You might think that besides its size a bench vise is a bench vise, right?

There’s a little more to it than that. For example, your budget trumps other considerations once the basic requirements are met. If you’re a DIY homeowner who just needs a vise for the garage, you don’t need to spend big bucks to get what you need. Both the Yost LV-4 and the Wilton 11104 bench vises can do the job well for under $50.

If you’ve got a bit more to spend on a bench vise, you can start looking at larger sizes with more versatile features like 360-degree swivel bases. Good bench vises under $100 include Yost’s 455 model or Grizzly’s G7062 for starters.

If a price is no object, you can look at larger vises for those occasional parts that just won’t fit into a 4 or 5-in vise. Some of these vises come with plenty of extra features like interchangeable jaws, full-circle swivel action, and pipe jaws. Examples of bench vises under $200 include Yost’s FSV-4 and TEKTON’s 5409 bench vises.

But what about bench vises made in USA, you ask?

That’s also a valid consideration if you want to support American-made products with your budget. Yost has an excellent line of bench vises that outshine many of their competitors. Even better, they are an American company that makes their products at home.

Sometimes a job would be easier if you could turn the vise to a different position. That’s the convenience of rotating head vises that swivel on their bases. If you can afford the extra expense of a 240 or 360-degree swivel base bench vise, don’t hesitate to buy it. It’s sure to come in handy.

It’s easy to think one 6-in vise is about the same as another in terms of what size parts it can clamp, but that’s not always the case. When you’re shopping for a bench vice, pay attention to how far the jaws open and how much depth the throat has. Making sure a bench vise has the capacity you need will save you headaches down the road.

What’s the best vise for home use, you ask?

Bench vises designed for home use tend to be cheaper and smaller because you won’t need the capacity that a mechanic’s shop does, nor does the vise need to withstand as much torque. Yost’s LV-4 is an excellent choice for use in a home garage or repair shop.

Looking for a bench vise to use for woodworking is another special case. You’ll want to look for customizable jaws that can be fitted with covers to handle soft materials without damaging them. You might also want to think about how much capacity a vise will need to do the wood cutting and drilling you plan to do.

Popular Bench Vise Brands

If you are new to this topic, here ate the best manufacturers to consider: Olympia, Grizzly, Wilton, Yost, Larin, Jorgensen, Pony, Irwin, Bessey 

The Parts of a Bench Vise

How do they put bench vises together, you ask?

These are fairly standard tools that can sometimes be upgraded or customized with interchangeable parts. Either way, it helps to know how they are put together and what the different parts of a bench vise do when you need to deal with maintenance and repairs.

Here are some common parts you’ll find on a bench vise:

  • Handle grip: The handle of a bench vise is usually a simple sliding metal bar, but there are a few different styles of bench vise handle grips that you can choose from that may be more convenient to use.
  • Jaws: The jaws of a bench vise are what clamp onto a part. One jaw, usually the outside jaw, slides forwards and backwards on a slide, while the other jaw is stationary.
  • Brakes: Brakes are metal pieces that can be mounted on a bench vise’s jaws so it can be used like a brake press to bend sheet metal.
  • Bolts: Some bench vises are designed to be mounted directly onto a tabletop using a set of long-shafted bolts.
  • Clamps: Smaller bench vises are often clamped onto the edge of a workbench or other tabletop-like surface.
  • Slide: The slide is the bracket that the sliding jaw moves back and forth on.
  • Base: This is the part that mounts the entire assembly onto a sturdy work surface. Some bases are designed to swivel so you can turn the vise from side to side.

 

How to Install a Bench Vise

So, you’ve got a new workbench and a bench vise to put on it.

What’s the best way to install it?

Installing a new bench vise is fairly easy, but you do need to consider a couple things carefully to get the most out of your vise.

  1. Decide where exactly to place it on the bench: This is the first thing to do before anything else. You’ll need to drill holes for the vise’s fasteners, so you’ll want to figure out the best place for it to avoid doing this more than once.
  2. Drill bolt holes into the workbench: Once you’ve decided on the position of the bench vise, place it and trace the inside of the vise base’s holes on the workbench with a pencil. Then drill out the holes using a drill bit that matches the size of the bench vise’s bolts.
  3. Fasten the bench vise to the workbench: Position the bench vise over the holes you drilled. Insert the bolts through the bench vise’s base and workbench using flat washers on top of the bench vise and locking washers and nuts underneath the workbench. Then tighten down the bolts until the bench vise is firmly in place. Be careful not to over-tighten the bolts if your workbench is wooden.

How to Install a Bench Vise

Video about How to Install a Bench Vise

Types of Bench Vises

It’s hard to believe, but even something as basic as a bench vise comes in an assortment of types to choose from. Many of these vises have added features to make positioning parts possible at a full range of angles. Others are designed for more mobility than the standard bench vise.

Here’s a list of some of the types of bench vises you’ll find on the market.

  • Portable bench vise

Need a bench vise to go where the work is?

These vises use different ways to install themselves in various places, making it possible to take them from place to place. Some use a clamp to mount onto any sturdy tabletop that the clamp fits onto.

Another innovative portable vise can be installed onto a towing hitch of a car or truck with enough clearance. These small vises can be mounted using hitch pins onto a receiver hitch, making them ideal to take with you to remote job sites.

  • Bench vise with an anvil

Working with sheet metal?

Many machinist bench vises will also have an anvil on the back of them for hammering or using as a work surface. These bench vises have metalworking in mind, especially sheet metal or tubing that is bent with brakes or hammering.

  • Angle drill press vise

Need a vise for your drill press that tilts at an angle?

Also called tilted drill press vises, these vises are specially made for drill press work. They are designed to hold a part at a desired angle for drilling, tapping, and reaming. Angle drill press vises will tilt up as much as 90 degrees and hold a part so you can drill holes precisely.

  • Multipurpose vise

Need a bench vise that can handle many different jobs?

Multipurpose vises are another name for a basic machinist bench vise. These vises are designed to be as versatile as possible and useful to the home DIY workshop.

They typically have jaws that can be modified with blocks and covers, swivel at their base, and have a small anvil on the back. This makes them useful for all sorts of manual work such as cutting, sanding, grinding, drilling, and loosening corroded bolts.

  • Grooved-jaw drill press vise

You need a drill press vise that can hold onto round parts as well as square, you say?

Grooved jaws are often found as a feature of drill press vises because it helps the vise keep a firm hold of circular or irregular shaped parts. Because drill presses are often used to drill holes into conduit or other circular stock, grooved jaws are usually included for this type of vise.

  • Machinist vise

Here’s a bench vise for a machine shop:

A machinist vise is another name for a metal-working bench vise intended for use in fabrication workshops. They usually have a swivel base, jaws designed to grip onto irregularly shaped metal, and they’re designed to allow covers and brakes to be installed. They also usually have anvils on the back.

  • Deluxe tilting angle vise

Need a vise for your drill press with all the bells and whistles?

A deluxe tilting angle vise is an angle drill press vise with all the features included. These vises swivel, have grooved jaws, can be customized with blocks and covers, and can tilt at a precise angle for drilling.

How Is a Bench Vise Used?

Bench vises are simple tools that can be used to accomplish many things. You simply place the workpiece into the jaws and tighten the vise until the object is held secure. Given the many situations a vise can be used, though, it’s not always obvious to bench vise owners all of the ways they can save time.

What are the ways a bench vise can be used, you might be wondering?

One way to use a bench vise is to clamp glued wood pieces together while the glue dries. A large vise can hold together more than a couple small pieces of wood until the glue sets, and bench vises can apply as much force as you need.

Bench vises are ideal for metalworking tasks because a metal part isn’t likely to be damaged by the jaws like wood could be.

Whether you are drilling, grinding, or sawing a metal part, a bench vise will be perfect for holding a one-off job in place while you work.

What else is a bench vise good for?

If you need to sand down a rough-cut piece of wood by hand, putting it in a bench vise can make the job much faster and less tiresome than holding it with one hand and sanding with the other. It’ll also make it possible to be sand more precisely.

Bench vises can be useful for holding electrical conduit while you cut it down to the size you need. Holding it firmly in a vise makes it easier to make a straight cut. For the same reason, a bench vise makes precise drilling tasks much easier.

Bench Vise Sizes

How large does your bench vise need to be?

This is a question many first-time buyers will have.

First, what does the size of a bench vise actually refer to?

It’s the length of the vise’s jaws or the width of the largest size part that will fit into the jaws without sticking out either side. Of course, the overall size of a bench vise increases exponentially as the jaw size increases. A 6-in bench vise is many times the size and weight of a 3-in vise.

  • 3-in and 4-in bench vises are on the small side and are a good choice if you are sure you won’t be handling large wood or metal parts. They are big enough for typical odd jobs around a home garage. A 4 or 4.5-in bench vise is about as large as most DIYers will need.
  • The 5-in to 6-in range is the typical size that you’ll find being used in most machine shops. They can cover the vast majority of parts that are encountered in a fabrication shop, including cumbersome pieces of sheet metal or conduit. Larger parts can usually be handled by CNC machines, so larger vises are not necessary.
  • The larger 8-in and 10-in bench vises are only useful if you’ll need a vise to handle very large truck or farm-equipment parts. It’s not very common to see these sizes in use because the parts that would need such large vises will often be so heavy or large that handling them manually on a workbench is difficult.

Bench Vise Alternatives

There are ways to fasten a part to a sturdy surface besides a bench vise.

If you don’t need to use too much force while you work, a set of C-clamps can sometimes suffice to hold a work piece to a tabletop or a temporary bench like a Workmate.

It’s also possible to rig together a wood block clamp on the side of a work table that can be closed onto a part when you need to immobilize it well enough for sawing, sanding, or drilling.

Weight

The main thing you should know about vise weight is the bigger the vise – the bigger and steadier woodworking table you need to distribute the weight evenly. Remember it while installing and it will help you to avoid injuries!

Design

It’s interesting how this basic tool was invented in the 20th century and hasn’t changed that much since then. The only thing that improved is the material, making vises one of the most durable tools out there.

Warranty

The general warranty lasts for the lifetime.

That’s a good news, isn’t it?

Some products make carry a limited warranty which sure varies in duration based upon the product and its detail.

Safety Tips

The best way to stay safe when working with bench vises is to make sure they are securely installed before using them. Being made of cast iron or steel, these are heavy tools that can cause injuries if they fall off the table or are dropped.

Use lifting equipment or have another person help you when you install vises that weigh more than 50 pounds.

It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the design of your bench vise. For example, swivel base vises have a locking pin that should be set after moving them. This keeps the vise from moving freely when you work with a part.

Be sure to read the warranty that comes with a bench vise and consider it before buying a vise. Bench vises are not likely to break if they are made well. Look for bench vises with lifetime warranties, as this should be reasonable for quality-made vises. Less than that might suggest the manufacturer has doubts about their own workmanship.

FAQ

There’s a wide variety for many different applications. Rubberized covers help protect soft or painted parts from damage. Covers can be magnetized to minimize the possibility of smaller parts from slipping while you work. There are also covers with different groove patterns designed to safely grip round and irregularly shaped parts.

This is best determined by the size of parts you will work with. The larger and more bulky the parts are, the larger the bench vise you’ll need will be.

Generally, a 5-in bench vise will handle most common parts a DIY homeowner or small engine repair shop might encounter. A woodworking or metal fabrication workshop may want to have a 6-in bench vise for heavy parts. Bench vises over 6-in are used for heavy industry work like truck or farm equipment repair.

It does if the work you plan to do involves large amounts of force, like bending metal parts. Cast steel bench vises have more tensile strength than cast iron vises. For ordinary work like drilling and cutting parts, you should be fine with a cast iron bench vise.

Final Verdict

So, what’s our verdict on which of these bench vises takes the winner’s cup? Which of these bench vises is the best depends on the size and versatility someone needs? In truth, bench vises should probably be divided into small, medium, and large size classes, but for this review of the 10 best vises on the market, we’ll choose one. Which is it? Our pick for the best bench vise in 2018 is Yost’s 455 model bench vise. It’s an affordable vise for the features it brings to the table, and it edges out the competition in customer ratings on Amazon as well. It looks like a winner to us if you need a 5-in bench vise.

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