In this review, you’ll learn just what it is that makes a good bench vise good to begin with. You’ll also see three examples of the best products on the market, ensuring you walk away with the right one.
Introduction to the Bench Vise
At first glance, it may be easy to consider each bench vise as being the exact same as the next. As those who have used many different units can tell you; however, this is not always the case. Getting the best bench vise for your needs can mean the difference between a smooth project and a frustration-filled weekend. In this review, you’ll learn just what it is that makes a good bench vise good to begin with. You’ll also see three examples of the best products on the market, ensuring you walk away with the right one.
Top Ranked Bench Vises
Yost Vises 445
The Yost Vises 445 is a rather heavy-duty model among vises and would be the closest thing available to what you might call a “premium” bench vise. While it doesn’t come with any advanced features which may make themselves apparent the moment you lock eyes with the unit, you’ll find the few bonus features it has to be very convenient in nature, saving you time and headaches in the future. Its 360-degree swivel is a great example of this. Even if you might not be able to see yourself ever needing a bench vise with a 360-degree swivel, it certainly can’t hurt to have one around. And, if you do need such a unit, I don’t need to explain how annoying it is when you don’t have one around.
Outside of its aforementioned swivel, the Yost Vises 445 also has a few other features which set it apart from similar products. For example, it comes with replaceable jaws. It used to be that once a jaw broke, you would go down to the hardware store and pick up an entirely new unit. Of course, this is a very unnecessary expense. As such, it’s nice to see a product incorporate such a feature into its make. It also comes with a jaw width of four and a half inches, making it great for working with larger materials.
The above bench vise is, without a doubt, the most high-quality vise you’ll be able to get your hands on. There are; however, a few reasons why you might find yourself unable to use it to its full capacity. Whether it has more features than you need or whether you simply can’t justify spending over sixty dollars on a bench vise, the Wilton 11104 is a close runner up in quality and is a vise which you may find yourself more inclined (or able) to use. In fact, you’ll likely find it to be just as versatile, despite its lower number of innovative features.
For example, it has a four-inch jaw width. This will be big enough to tackle most jobs, though is still small enough to be seen as being practical when used in an at-home environment. The unit also comes with a lifetime warranty. While this doesn’t act as a guarantee of satisfaction, it ensures that you will never experience a single issue due to manufacturing defects, being that the company will immediately replace the vise if such issues present themselves at some point or another.
Tekton 54004 Bench Vise
Perhaps the above bench vise seems a little more heavy-duty than need be? If this is the case and you feel as if you can settle for a vise which is slightly more lightweight in stature, you’ll be able to reap the extra few rewards which come along with owning the Tekton 54004. For example, where the Wilton 11104 comes with a lifetime warranty, the Tekton 54004 comes with a lifetime guarantee. This means that you can return the item at any point if you’re not satisfied with it, whether or not it actually exhibits any manufacturing defects. This is a great quality to see in any product, as it truly makes it a risk-free purchase out of the couple of dollars it costs to ship the item.
However, as previously stated, the Tekton 54004 is more lightweight. For example, while the Wilton 11104’s jaws can open as wide as four inches apart, the Tekton 54004 can only open up to three inches. Of course, this should be more than enough for most situations. Though, if you know you’ll be tackling bigger jobs, or are simply unsure of what the future holds, you can always cash out on your lifetime guarantee.
Top Rated Bench Vises Summary
Every one of the above bench vises serve the exact same purpose. They are, after all, bench vises. However, while each one of them is sure to be able to get the job done, just how much hassle you endure while getting the job done in the first place will be largely dependant on whether or not the bench vise you selected is truly the best option for you. For example, if you know you’ll be tackling big jobs with big materials, the Wilton 11104 should be an obvious choice due to its jaws’ large width.
On the other hand, if you know you don’t need nearly that much width, you can get a few added features by settling for the Tekton 54004 445 model. If; however, you’d like something a little more advanced and don’t mind paying a premium for the privilege, the Yost Vises 445 model should prove to be an excellent choice. For a fifty percent markup, you’ll have the most impressive bench vise on the block. It comes with several benefits of the other two, though has no apparent drawbacks to speak of, making it excellent if you don’t mind paying a little extra.
Bench Vise Buyers Guide
What is a Bench Vise?
Although I simply cannot praise the above three bench vises enough, you may get the itch to break away from the above list and do some shopping for yourself. If this is the case, you can greatly increase your odds of walking away victorious through keeping some of the below considerations in mind. Try answering some of these questions before finalizing your purchase on the model you have your sights set on.
What width do you need?
If you’ve bought bench vises before, you likely needn’t be reminded how important this question is. If this is your first time; however, I can’t stress enough just how much of a role the width of your vise’s jaws will play in the successfulness of your future projects. As such, it’s imperative that you take a look at any given product’s specifications in this regard. Also, if you’re buying a bench vise for a specific project, keep in mind the measurements of the largest piece of material you plan on using in your bench vise. Otherwise, you may find yourself having to return the item you bought. Remember, you can always go too small but you can very rarely go too big. When in doubt, it is most likely in your best interest to opt for a model with a larger width.
How much swivel do you need?
It can be easy to want to buy the bench vise with the largest swivel you can find, thinking that a larger swivel is always better. While this is true in many ways, it’s not when you consider the price. If it didn’t cost anything extra to incorporate a full 360-degree swivel into a bench vise, nobody would make models with anything less. As such, if you know a 180-degree swivel is all you’ll ever need, it just makes no sense to go with another model purely for its 360-degree swivel. On the other hand, if you’re unsure of which projects you may find yourself undertaking in the future, a larger swivel might be better, as ending up with a useless product is anything but frugal. Keep in mind what types of projects you plan on tackling with your new bench vise.
Will you be carrying your bench vise around?
Bench vises can vary greatly from unit to unit in terms of how much they weigh. If you know you’ll be transporting your unit around, it can never hurt to get a five-pound vise over a twenty-pound vise. On the other hand, if you know you won’t be carrying it around, staying open to heavier units may net you with a larger jaw width as well as a few other added features. While portable units are great when used under the right circumstances, you may find they carry with them a lesser degree of capabilities when used solely in one particular place.
Types of Bench Vises
Bench vises may have a variety of different features and can be categorized in many different ways. However, for simplicity’s sake, it helps to place bench vises into three main categories. Do you know which type you need?
- Woodworking Bench Vise – The woodworking bench vise is one of the more lightweight options at your disposal. Typically, these are mounted underneath the outer reach of your workbench. While these vises may not be suitable for all situations, they prove to be the most convenient when used for the right types of projects.
- Machinist’s Bench Vise – Similar to the woodworking bench vise, the machinist bench vise distinguishes itself in its weight and size. Typically, such a vise can be planted firmly on top of a surface without fear of toppling over. You’re more likely to come across this form of vise, being that it tends to be the most widely used and could be considered the “standard” bench vise in today’s age. The machinist’s bench vise could also be considered as being halfway between the woodworking vise and the mechanic’s vise.
- Mechanic’s Bench Vise – The mechanic’s bench vise looks nearly identical to the machinist’s bench vise. The main difference is that this particular type of vise comes with a flat surface jutting out the side which is meant for the hammering of metals. Despite this, it still functions well as a table vise, though may be somewhat bulkier. These are typically seen as being of the highest quality. While they weren’t advertised as such, the above three products we covered fit into this category.
Common Bench Vise Features
Each of the above three types of bench vise will be more suitable to one person than the other depending on the jobs your vise will be used for. However, there are a few features which everyone should want to see in a vise, no matter which jobs the vise in question may be expected to tackle.
- Replaceable Jaws – Some features may serve no other purpose than to mark up a product’s price, especially if you feel they will go largely unused. Replaceable jaws; however, can only prove to save money in the end. The worst possible case scenario is you never need to replace the jaws, in which case this feature would still not have inhibited your vise’s capabilities.
- Teethed Jaws – Now, there are a few bench vises which don’t have teeth but still prove to be great units (such as the Yost Vises model we covered above). However, if all other factors are consistent between two vises, you’re always better off choosing the unit whose jaws have teeth. This offers a higher degree of grip that can do wonders.
- A High PSI – The PSI is a unit of measurement which is, in this particular context, meant to represent how hard a bench vise can clamp down on any given material. You’ll notice that not every product has its PSI listed. However, if it comes down to choosing between two models and you know that one has a higher PSI, that model may be your best bet.
Of course, outside of the above three features, whether or not any given product’s characteristics are any good to begin with will all come down to just what you’ll be using your bench vise for. However, by keeping all of the above considerations in mind, getting the proper bench vise for you will be a breeze.