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A Joy to Use

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Review by MagicalMichael posted 12-12-2019 03:40 PM 1025 views 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
A Joy to Use A Joy to Use No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I have been woodworking for more years than I care to admit. Early on I built a Tage Frid bench with traditional shoulder and tail vises. I never wanted for anything else from a vise, until, after many decades of use both of those vises began to fail. Two years ago I built a new out feed table for a new table saw and outfitted it with a leg vise sporting a Lake Erie screw and the Hovarter scissors. Later I retrofited a 150 mm HNT Gordon Tail vise into that table. The leg vise is nice enough and shines in some ways the shoulder vise doesn’t but lags in other applications. When I set out to build a new workbench I looked at a huge array of vise options but didn’t even consider buying a metal vise. I had never seen one that I wanted to own and thought they just had too many limitations. Call it an anti-metal bias if you want.

That all changed when I discovered this vise. I already had a Gordon tail vise so I expected a high quality product, then I got to lay my hands on this vise at the Lie-Nielsen Open House last summer. I was immediately sold, and decided the new bench would be designed to use this vise. It does everything that both my shoulder vise and leg vise do, but does it better!

The vise is built by Terry Gordon in a small shop in New South Wales, Australia and you can buy it directly from him, or in the US from Heartland Tools.

Installation is pretty straight forward, especially on a new build. The vise mounts to the bottom of the bench with either four or six (I went with six) user supplied lag screws. It is looking for a bench top thickness of 73 MM or a little more. Mine is 75MM.

If your bench top is significantly more or less than that you will need to either route some wood out or build it up. The vise face uses the side of the bench top as the chop, so it is critical that the front edge of the top be perfectly square to the bottom of the bench top.

The vise design builds on straight forward, time tested screw and nut technology, but improves on it in three dramatic ways. First the screw is housed and sealed so there is no exposed, greasy screw. Second the broad mounting plate and precision mechanism replaces those interfering side bars found in other commercial face vises. Third, rather than brute force it gains its strength from a design that has no play and no racking and readily holds boards tight even when mounted completely on one side. The vise action is smooth, with a very light touch. I have arthritis creeping into my hands and really appreciate not having to get a death grip on a vise handle to close it down. The machining is done with the precision we have come to expect in the very best products.

The workmanship and appearance are outstanding and I like having a vise that does not stick out into my shop space the way both the shoulder vise and leg vise handle do. This vise minimizes the number of times I will bang my hip into it.

There are only two small downsides that I can think of. The vise movement is certainly slower than some others on the market, especially the Benchcrafted and Hovarter vises, but I find that 90% of the time I am using it to hold wood between 1/2” and 1 1/2”, so it really doesn’t make any difference if I need a couple of extra turns. Second. It is expensive but not appreciably more than a Benchcrafted or Lake Erie screw, especially if you factor in wood costs to build with those vises. The quality of this vise rivals those, so the price is well justified. Workbenches are expensive and the vises are the most important part. I decided to compromise on wood species but not on vise quality.

-- michael




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MagicalMichael

160 posts in 1125 days



5 comments so far

View LittleBlackDuck's profile

LittleBlackDuck

3462 posts in 1429 days


#1 posted 12-13-2019 08:16 AM

You certainly have another backer in parting with what other’s may consider too many shekels, for a quality product.

In English… I bought one as well and love it. I had enough vices (and vises) and was desperate mto find a home for it. I compromised by putting it in a mini work bench.

The only issue I had was the lack of a dog and I was too timid to deface the vise to add one… I did overcome that with a slip on box that substitutes as a dog…

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View sansoo22's profile

sansoo22

486 posts in 263 days


#2 posted 12-19-2019 02:27 AM

Thanks for sharing the review. I lost an hour or so of my day watching videos on HNT vices but learned a lot so worth it.

View Jarrhead's profile

Jarrhead

88 posts in 3967 days


#3 posted 01-22-2020 03:59 PM

Nice design. The price gives me pause, and the lack of a quick release. However, for me the real show stopper is the lack of dog holes. I want to be able to use the vise to also hold pieces flat on the bench top, in conjunction with the dog holes in my bench. I could add a wooden jaw with dog holes, but seeing as how the jaw opening is already limited to 6”, that would bring it down closer to 4”. I like the prospect of LittleBlackDuck’s idea of a “slip on box”. That might work.

-- trn2wud

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LittleBlackDuck

3462 posts in 1429 days


#4 posted 01-22-2020 10:36 PM


... I like the prospect of LittleBlackDuck s idea of a “slip on box”. That might work.

- Jarrhead


Thanks J’h’... I really appreciate the acknowledgement…

Unfortunately it is to the chagrin of my cardiologist… it has saved my bacon many times!

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View MagicalMichael's profile

MagicalMichael

160 posts in 1125 days


#5 posted 01-22-2020 10:52 PM

Jarrhead. Keep in mind, if you are looking at the Auzzie website, you are looking at Auzie $$. Still it is expensive, but not more so than a Benchcrafted or Lake Erie screw, plus wood. You can drill half inch holes in the top and use half inch dogs, Gordon demos this on his website. I considered it, but decided against. The vice motion is so light and smooth that a quick release is really unnecessary. I find that I rarely open it more than 2” in any case. The amount of time you save on installation, compared to a leg vice will more than offset a lifetime of opening it more than 2”.

Michael

-- michael

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