Building a Top-Notch Workbench- for under $250 #5: Vises and other workholding areas. Looking at the options....

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Blog entry by Kenny posted 03-21-2012 09:28 PM 2312 reads 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Wood has been purchased @ $108 total Part 5 of Building a Top-Notch Workbench- for under $250 series no next part

If you’ve read my earlier installments, you know I planned to use 1-1/2” x 5tpi wooden screws for my vises made with the Beall Tools threading kit.

Well, I may just change my mind on that yet!

I was looking on the LeeValley site the other day and decided to look over what they offered for vises just out of curiosity.
First thing I looked at were their ””tail vise screws””:,41659, which I have seen many, many good reviews on. I was actually surprised at the price as well, at only $36 each. Not bad! Two of those to make a twin screw would only put me at around $75. Not cheap, but worth it when building a nice bench.

Next, I started poking through the face vises, and I see they have a sizable quick-release front vise priced at $140. A bit more than I care to spend in reality, but worth considering. I’m just not sure I want to give up my dream of dual twin-screw vises just yet! But, in reality, it may not be a bad idea to have one more traditional vise. So, I made a mental note of it and moved along.

Then I see their ””standard front vises, and for some reason, maybe it’s the color, they look a bit nicer to me. Not so “imported”. And the larger of the two, which is a very substantially sized vise, comes in at under $75. Not bad! Again, not exactly what I want, but worth considering.

Now, two of the Veritas screws and the standard front vise would put me at just under $150 before shipping. Now, since I have already put $108 into wood, this will put me slightly over budget. Not by much, and it may be worth while to spend the extra money. But it’s something I’ll have to ponder for a bit. The quick-release, while a sweet feature, is simply more than I have to spend right now, so it’s not an option for me. But if one had a larger budget, I think it would make for an excellent piece to add to your bench. As would any of their “top-line” vises. But at over $250, none are near affordable for me.

And then this brings me back to my original choice, which still holds tight in my mind, the 1-1/2”x5tpi wooden screws. The threading kit is under $100, and after that, all I have is the price of wood to consider and I can make any number of screws I desire, be it for jigs, vises clamps, or any other use, I will always have the threading kit.

If anyone has any thoughts or suggestions, I’m all ears. I would really like to get the vises right the first time. And really, I don’t mind the thought of replacing the wooden screws every few years if needed. If they work well and last at least a couple years, that is fine with me.

I just don’t have much experience with the style of steel vise I mentioned above. I do have both a small Bessey and another vintage steel vise in my shop now, and I know I need to upgrade to larger units. While my current vises serve me well, I have outgrown them and upgrading is a must at this point.

As for other types of work-holding, I do plan to eventually add some nice hold-fasts, preferably something like the Grammercy units, or even some hand-forged piece by Phil Koontz (or Jake the Russian, who I hear has taken over producing them). If you have never used a hol-dfast, it’s something I recommend becoming acquainted with! I have a low-end model I picked up at Woodcraft, and while it is nothing near thew quality of the Grammercy, never mind the Koontz, it’s still an invaluable piece of workholding equipment!

As well, if anyone has any other thoughts or suggestions, I’d love to hear them! I’m very open to trying new things and adding other features I’ve not thought of!

Thanks for reading, and until next time, stay safe and have fun!

-- Kenny

1 comment so far

View bluekingfisher's profile


1333 posts in 4470 days

#1 posted 03-22-2012 08:21 AM

I have a couple of old Recored No53 vises on my bench, (tail &side) One of them gives me a 21” opening (without jaws) more than enough for most jobs.

With regards to my bench it doubles as my out feed table, I built it last year and made the top up from 6” wide 3/4” oak flooring. To my regret the surface has become uneven due to the movement of the boards. I’m faced with taking out a couple of boards and planing of just going for a sheet of MDF.

It is my intention one day to build a large beech heavy duty bench with all singing and dancing vises.

-- No one plans to fail, they just, just fail to plan

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