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Woodworking Vise

by LDO2802
posted 01-31-2018 05:41 PM


35 replies so far

View jimintx's profile

jimintx

913 posts in 1941 days


#1 posted 01-31-2018 05:49 PM

I am not going to be helpful at all on this one, but I’m going to follow it, because of two things:
The main one is that I actually don’t have any reaction to the question, and don’t think the brand of a vice is consequential. Really, I am not even sure I can name a brand that makes vices, although clearly there are stores that sell them under the store name. However, if there is a real functional difference in brands, I want to learn about it.
The other is, I have not ever thought if any vice being “square and true”, or not. I have only thought abut their ability to hold the work piece firmly without it moving. Thus, I want to read more about that, too.

My vices are all 25-30+ year old craftsman items, and they work really great, but I doubt ones like mine are readily available anyway. When I was buying them, I didn’t even realize there were many alternatives, and like I always did in those days when I wanted a tool, I just went to Sears.

There are also many styles of work-holding vices. The style you select may be more significant for the work you plan to accomplish.

-- Jim, Houston, TX

View Holt's profile

Holt

280 posts in 2986 days


#2 posted 01-31-2018 06:00 PM

Assuming that you want to buy and not work out how to make them yourself, I’d find someone still making big, 2 or 3 TPI wooden screws and build the vises into your workbench. My personal taste would be a Scandinavian style shoulder vise on the front left corner and a Nyquist style tail vise on the right side.

-- ...Specialization is for insects.

View William Shelley's profile

William Shelley

609 posts in 1826 days


#3 posted 01-31-2018 06:03 PM

I don’t think that any vise is “square and true”. Vises aren’t typically made to hold things in alignment during assembly. You’d be better off custom making a jig to hold something like a drawer or door panel “square and true” during assembly.

As far as “best”, well, everyone will tell you their product is the best at the price point they offer it at. It depends on how much money you want to spend.

In general, and this applies to clamps too, the defining characteristic that I’ve seen that separates the “junk” from the “good”, is that good vises/clamps/etc will have Acme threaded screws, and cheap versions will have regular v-threaded screws.

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

12769 posts in 2737 days


#4 posted 01-31-2018 06:05 PM

Are you looking to buy vises and if so, specifically what type?

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View FancyShoes's profile

FancyShoes

592 posts in 1721 days


#5 posted 01-31-2018 06:07 PM

Build or buy is good

Old vises off craigslist or auctions to look for would be: wilton, columbia, those are the 2 most popluar, then the really hard to get Emmert pattern makers vise. I bid a guy up to $350 at auction before dropping out, they sometimes sell for $850. The columbia and wilton I have paid as little as $5 for at a auction, and sold them for $40. One day I picked up 12 @ $7/piece at auction. Other times they bring $40. Depends on who is there.

Good luck

View Loren's profile

Loren

10477 posts in 4005 days


#6 posted 01-31-2018 06:09 PM

I had an Emmert vise for several years. Great
vise but overkill for most furniture type applications,
and it lacks a quick-action feature so there can
be a lot of handle cranking involved in using one.

I use a Record vise. It’s the biggest one they made,
15” I think. The weight causes some wear problems
but I’ve learned how to maintain it.

Lee Valley is a good supplier. They stand behind
their products 100% and their proprietary designs
are well thought out.

View LittleShaver's profile

LittleShaver

521 posts in 976 days


#7 posted 01-31-2018 06:23 PM

I have an Emmert and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

-- Sawdust Maker

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

1217 posts in 1851 days


#8 posted 01-31-2018 10:01 PM

I think best brand vise debate can be confounded with best brand of vise for intended application?
Also need to decide how much construction you want to do to install your vise (build .vs buy)?

Front Vise:
- Emmert Pattern Makers vise is Cadillac of wood working vises when you need this kind of infinite adjust-ability. Highland sells a decent clone of Emmert.
- Veritas Quick Release front vise for simple applications

Leg Vise:
- Benchcrafted hardware if you want metal screw
- Lakeerietoolworks hardware if you want wood screw

End vise:
- Veritas Twin Screw

Tail Vise:
Veritas quick release sliding tail vise for simple install and use it, or
Benchcrafted for hardware to build your own tail vise into a bench.

Moxon Vise:
Benchcrafted

+1 on used Wilton/Columbia:
Best value vise has to be used Wilton wood working vises. There are bullet proof, and were standard issue in schools across USA when middle/high schools could afford insurance to teach wood working. Most schools closed the shops and sold vises at auction or gave them away for free. Wilton/Columbia Wood working Vises saved from scrap pile can be found for <$25 on Craigslist or other used tool places. When I built my last bench, had money to buy top of line Veritas/Emmert; but choose to use 3 old Wilton vises. Maybe once a year I find a need for an Emmert as my front vise, but otherwise still do not regret the decision to use 1 Wilton front vise and 2 Wilton vises in Moxon configuration.

YMMV

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View LDO2802's profile

LDO2802

167 posts in 787 days


#9 posted 01-31-2018 10:26 PM



Are you looking to buy vises and if so, specifically what type?

- Rick_M

Yes…......and good question…........purpose of this post. :)

View LDO2802's profile

LDO2802

167 posts in 787 days


#10 posted 01-31-2018 10:30 PM



I think best brand vise debate can be confounded with best brand of vise for intended application?
Also need to decide how much construction you want to do to install your vise (build .vs buy)?

Front Vise:
- Emmert Pattern Makers vise is Cadillac of wood working vises when you need this kind of infinite adjust-ability. Highland sells a decent clone of Emmert.
- Veritas Quick Release front vise for simple applications

Leg Vise:
- Benchcrafted hardware if you want metal screw
- Lakeerietoolworks hardware if you want wood screw

End vise:
- Veritas Twin Screw

Tail Vise:
Veritas quick release sliding tail vise for simple install and use it, or
Benchcrafted for hardware to build your own tail vise into a bench.

Moxon Vise:
Benchcrafted

+1 on used Wilton/Columbia:
Best value vise has to be used Wilton wood working vises. There are bullet proof, and were standard issue in schools across USA when middle/high schools could afford insurance to teach wood working. Most schools closed the shops and sold vises at auction or gave them away for free. Wilton/Columbia Wood working Vises saved from scrap pile can be found for <$25 on Craigslist or other used tool places. When I built my last bench, had money to buy top of line Veritas/Emmert; but choose to use 3 old Wilton vises. Maybe once a year I find a need for an Emmert as my front vise, but otherwise still do not regret the decision to use 1 Wilton front vise and 2 Wilton vises in Moxon configuration.

YMMV

- CaptainKlutz

Excellent info! Exactly the kind of recommendation I was looking for. Thanks!

View msinc's profile

msinc

567 posts in 861 days


#11 posted 01-31-2018 10:38 PM

I am also interested to follow this post for information. I will soon be building a decent bench and it is my intention to outfit it with whatever vise configuration that catches my interest. There are a lot of posts to this thread that seem to need more to the question. I don’t want to hijack the man’s thread, but just imagine you hit the lotto and have no vises at all, but want to have whatever you need….what vises {as in more than one} would you buy to be sure they will work??? I will check out the ones listed, thanks.

Edit: I would like to add one thing, to me a vise that is square and true is very important. It will hold things a lot better and easier if for example the jaws are parallel. If they are not then I guess you could just hog down on it more until it holds…but you might mark up your wood if you do. Personally, I’d a whole lot rather have a vise that is true and square if possible.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

16103 posts in 2975 days


#12 posted 01-31-2018 10:44 PM

A vise is a fixed bench clamp, a means to an end and not an end unto itself. That said, any vise that secures the piece being worked is a quality vise.

For me, a leg vise is No. 1 and the threaded rod for mine came from a salvaged bench. They’re out there for less than $25 typically, if you’re patient. And ultimate or not, it’s what I’d choose again for leg vise hardware. Benchcrafted has the Wow factor, but there’s little practical value add there.

An end vise can be any Wilton or Columbia or Craftsman or Record you find. Each is suitable for the task.

Few have a practical need for the Emmert. But I wouldn’t pass one up if it came my way at a reasonable price.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View LDO2802's profile

LDO2802

167 posts in 787 days


#13 posted 01-31-2018 10:55 PM

To be clear, when I say square and true, I mean well built, guide rails line up, clamping face lines up so it is flush for when you mount wood on it, it wont stick up over the edge. Overall just well put together with little wiggle.

In the end I am probably going to be part of the herd and build a split Roubo Bench, so I am looking at all the available vises and getting opinions to see what some of the problems are. Veritas seems to have very expensive vises, and Lee Valley has them listed right next to vises that cost half the price, so the question becomes is the veritas vise actually better, or are you paying for the name?

View BlasterStumps's profile

BlasterStumps

1286 posts in 796 days


#14 posted 01-31-2018 11:36 PM

I have a Columbian 7” quick action, a 10” Craftsman quick action and a 52 1/2 D Record which is also a quick action vise. I like all three but the Record has the quick action lever on the front and I like that best. Some new vises will have that feature as well. I also made a Moxon style using a bar from a weight set for the threaded rod and nuts. Not expensive ($3.00) and it works quite nicely. It’s surprising how well the Moxon style holds your work piece. If I do another bench, I am fairly certain that a Moxon style vise will be planned for it.
Mike

-- "I build for function first, looks second. Most times I never get around to looks." - Mike, western Colorado

View msinc's profile

msinc

567 posts in 861 days


#15 posted 02-01-2018 01:01 AM

Am I correct to understand that the “Emmert” is no longer made? You have to find a good used one or go with the Highland clone? I took a good look at the Highland and I really like what I see. Does this vise deviate from the Emmert any? Or is it pretty well the same vise? Thanks for any info.

View Loren's profile

Loren

10477 posts in 4005 days


#16 posted 02-01-2018 01:13 AM


Am I correct to understand that the “Emmert” is no longer made? You have to find a good used one or go with the Highland clone? I took a good look at the Highland and I really like what I see. Does this vise deviate from the Emmert any? Or is it pretty well the same vise? Thanks for any info.

- msinc

It isn’t. Used ones aren’t that uncommon but prices
are high. I think those copies are smaller but otherwise
quite similar.

Veritas made a vise called a Tucker vise. It was
expensive, so much so that I guess they didn’t sell
enough to warrant ongoing production. Today it
is ridiculously collectible judging by ebay sale prices.

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

5365 posts in 2708 days


#17 posted 02-01-2018 03:03 AM

There are some old Craftsman quick release vises around that were made by Columbian, they are very high quality and fairly available in the used market.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View msinc's profile

msinc

567 posts in 861 days


#18 posted 02-01-2018 03:06 AM

Am I correct to understand that the “Emmert” is no longer made? You have to find a good used one or go with the Highland clone? I took a good look at the Highland and I really like what I see. Does this vise deviate from the Emmert any? Or is it pretty well the same vise? Thanks for any info.

- msinc

It isn t. Used ones aren t that uncommon but prices
are high. I think those copies are smaller but otherwise
quite similar.

Veritas made a vise called a Tucker vise. It was
expensive, so much so that I guess they didn t sell
enough to warrant ongoing production. Today it
is ridiculously collectible judging by ebay sale prices.

- Loren

Thank you for the info sir, it is greatly appreciated. From what I see, I believe the clone form Highland is going to work just fine. Of course, as my luck would have it, they are back ordered for two weeks. Can you tell me how much bigger the Emmert is than the clone? They are saying the clone is like 14 inches wide. Looks like the clone is $300 plus shipping, there’s an original Emmert on the bay right now for $900 so far. I need a good vise to use, I don’t really want to go into the collection business.

View Loren's profile

Loren

10477 posts in 4005 days


#19 posted 02-01-2018 03:10 AM

The jaws of the one I had were about 18” wide
I think.

View bigJohninvegas's profile

bigJohninvegas

595 posts in 1819 days


#20 posted 02-01-2018 04:17 AM


To be clear, when I say square and true, I mean well built, guide rails line up, clamping face lines up so it is flush for when you mount wood on it, it wont stick up over the edge. Overall just well put together with little wiggle.

In the end I am probably going to be part of the herd and build a split Roubo Bench, so I am looking at all the available vises and getting opinions to see what some of the problems are. Veritas seems to have very expensive vises, and Lee Valley has them listed right next to vises that cost half the price, so the question becomes is the veritas vise actually better, or are you paying for the name?

- LDO2802

I had the same questions as I was planning to build my new bench last year. I was able to attend the AWFS fair last year and Lee Valley had a booth there. I was planning on using the Veritas twin screw vise, and they had it set up on a bench. They also had the Veritas quick release front vise set up too. I liked them both, but in the end I bought the Lee Valley Quick release steel bench vise.
http://www.leevalley.com/us/Wood/page.aspx?p=49980&cat=1,41659

Item C. On the web page at $198.
I really liked both the Veritas vises I mentioned. But The vise I chose fits my needs well, and I was able to justify the lower price tag.
I have been using the new bench and vise for a little over two months now, and I am very happy with its function and quality.
Let me add, while I am very happy with my choice to go with the steel vise. It fits my personal needs very well. I did use the Veritas front vise while testing out a plane at the show.
Very nice. I am not much of a hand tool guy, and my bench is 5’X5’ square. work bench, out feed, and assembly table all in one. I think if I were building a Rubio style bench. I would have to go with the Veritas vises.
Just my two cents.
good luck .

Quick edit.
The steel vise I chose does not directly compare the the Veritas front vise.
I would however assume that the Lee valley quick release front vise does. And less than half the cost of the Veritas. While I have never used it. I would assume that it is of the same quality as the steel vise I purchased.
http://www.leevalley.com/us/Wood/page.aspx?p=54873&cat=1,41659,41661&ap=1

-- John

View msinc's profile

msinc

567 posts in 861 days


#21 posted 02-01-2018 07:33 AM



The jaws of the one I had were about 18” wide
I think.

- Loren

Okay, so the original is about 4 inches wider…thanks again sir!!!

View Sylvain's profile

Sylvain

821 posts in 2856 days


#22 posted 02-01-2018 01:50 PM

Anybody with experience with Hovarter ?

A bit pricey ( without the X link and without shipping, the leg vise mechanism cost as much as my Indian made “Drapper 225mm “quick release vise) but the technology is smart.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

View Combo Prof's profile

Combo Prof

3817 posts in 1634 days


#23 posted 02-01-2018 02:04 PM

Yost vises look to be interesting and are made (or perhaps just finished) in Holland, Michigan just two blocks from my new retirement house. This summer when I finish moving I’ll provide us with a photo tour. Meanwhile does anyone have any experience with them.

-- Don K, (Holland, Michigan)

View olegrump's profile

olegrump

97 posts in 579 days


#24 posted 02-01-2018 02:48 PM

RE: “Square and True”, word of warning here. ALL vises will have some degree of “slop” causing it to droop when opened, unless you build a means of keeping the guide bars straight and prevent sagging. Sometimes this can just be wooden blocks added under the bench top. Take a look at “The Workbench Book” by Scott Landis for some ideas on remedying this issue. If your guide bars sag, you will have slop, regardless of WHO made the vise.
BTW, Some leg vises, particularly vintage ones, do not have guide bars. This type of vise works like a lever, and guide bars may have been thought unnecessary. Some woodworkers have solved this issue by installing a roller at the base of the jaw to keep it level and ease operation.
Bottom line: Your “vise” can be almost ANY kind, even a board adjusted by a bar clamp, as long as your guide bars are well supported.

View LDO2802's profile

LDO2802

167 posts in 787 days


#25 posted 02-01-2018 04:05 PM

So overall recap….........Columbian, Emmert, reinforce guide rails, and veritas steel face? Sounds like a start! Thanks guys! (Im not buying an emmert)

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

1217 posts in 1851 days


#26 posted 02-01-2018 04:26 PM

Actually deleted some comments in my first post as it was too long, but since others have mentioned the topics, it seems relevant:

+1 with olegrump = Workbench Book is good read for vise types/uses and challenges with each. Frankly, there is no one “perfect” “regardless of cost” “one-size-fits-all” vise. Christopher Schwarz is another author with bench reference book(s). Most of these books are slanted towards hand tool needs, but they are useful to help you understand what you need. :)

- Vintage Record 52 1/2 vises are really nice (wished I never sold mine with my old bench). The Record style front quick release is more convenient .vs. the Wilton “reverse turn” to release jaws to slide open. They are desirable (and fairly hard to find) due stronger/heavier casting/rails than the current generation clones available from Lee Valley/Yost/etc. I personally classify the current Record 52-1/2 clones as medium duty vise, but they work well if you prefer this type.

- If you want NEW vise that is made in similar style as the old Wilton/Columbia woodworking vises, Wilton makes an updated version called heavy duty woodworking vise. The new version attempts to overcome some limitations of vintage design, by using a single solid post and pivoting clamp pad. Local supply house had one mounted as demo, and I liked the old design better. New version overcomes the jaw racking issues, but the single bar had more droop when extended .vs. the vintage version?

- If you want to overload on information about Emmert style pattern makers vise, surf to Iron Hand site

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View FancyShoes's profile

FancyShoes

592 posts in 1721 days


#27 posted 02-02-2018 08:20 AM



So overall recap….........Columbian, Emmert, reinforce guide rails, and veritas steel face? Sounds like a start! Thanks guys! (Im not buying an emmert)

- LDO2802

You forgot Wilton.

Also stay away from the ebay guy wnting $900 for a emmert. He most likely bought it for $350 at a auction and is looking for someone to make him a $600 profit. I have seen a few at auctions under $500 for sure. I have seen them posted for sale over at OWWM.org for around $400 as well.

View FancyShoes's profile

FancyShoes

592 posts in 1721 days


#28 posted 02-02-2018 08:21 AM

View LDO2802's profile

LDO2802

167 posts in 787 days


#29 posted 02-02-2018 04:26 PM

Just finished reading the paul sellers blog and he is leaning towards the Eclipse. Another nominee to the pile!

View FancyShoes's profile

FancyShoes

592 posts in 1721 days


#30 posted 02-03-2018 07:28 AM

Dont let the need to have the perfect thing stop you. I tend to have that personality trait, and tend to never start things because of it.

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

5425 posts in 3600 days


#31 posted 02-04-2018 07:11 PM

I will chime in here to say; what is the big deal with a vise. The purpose of a vise is to hold the work you are working on and if it does just that, it’s fulfilled it’s purpose, whether it is an expensive vise or a cheap one. I do agree that the screw has to be an acme thread and the jaws don’t mar the wood when clamped. The reason why some vises cost so much is because of the manpower it takes to make them. I’m pretty sure Roy Underhill wouldn’t pay $300 for a vise. I have a cheap all metal vise and a wood vise I made and they serve well as work holding devices. When it comes to metalworking vises, that’s a totally different thing. They have to be very precision made if they are to hold work for precision machining. Those vises justify their high cost.

View HollywoodGT's profile

HollywoodGT

11 posts in 468 days


#32 posted 02-04-2018 07:16 PM

My issue is I bought two nice screw vices for my work bench but when I went to install them the would hit the 2X4 framing under the top. So I need to either add on to my top or reconfigure the two by for framing that the top sits on

View LDO2802's profile

LDO2802

167 posts in 787 days


#33 posted 02-05-2018 06:26 AM

I don’t. I usually agonize over the details but in the end I pull the trigger. Ordered a Record 52 1/2D.


Dont let the need to have the perfect thing stop you. I tend to have that personality trait, and tend to never start things because of it.

- FancyShoes


View LDO2802's profile

LDO2802

167 posts in 787 days


#34 posted 02-05-2018 06:27 AM

It really is a compulsiveness to do it like old woodworkers I think. You are correct, if it works, it works. These older vises really do seem to clamp more evenly. They are just made better


I will chime in here to say; what is the big deal with a vise. The purpose of a vise is to hold the work you are working on and if it does just that, it s fulfilled it s purpose, whether it is an expensive vise or a cheap one. I do agree that the screw has to be an acme thread and the jaws don t mar the wood when clamped. The reason why some vises cost so much is because of the manpower it takes to make them. I m pretty sure Roy Underhill wouldn t pay $300 for a vise. I have a cheap all metal vise and a wood vise I made and they serve well as work holding devices. When it comes to metalworking vises, that s a totally different thing. They have to be very precision made if they are to hold work for precision machining. Those vises justify their high cost.

- MrRon


View Combo Prof's profile

Combo Prof

3817 posts in 1634 days


#35 posted 02-05-2018 09:42 AM

I think the Record 1/2D which seems to be about $170 including S&H is a good buy.

I am beginning to think the Eclipse, a UK company, which imitated the Record style for their Chinese-made vises and HF and Yost all have their vises made in the same chinese factory, and thus only vary in quality control.

-- Don K, (Holland, Michigan)

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