Armor Tools - Auto-Pro P7-IL In-Line Dog Clamp (Rating: 3)

When I set out to build my workbench, I knew its home would be in the basement right next to my wife's fabric cutting table. The location made it hard to fit a tail vise without blocking the main walkway through the basement. Given that I was already pushing my wife's forgiveness by setting my workbench in the basement, I knew I needed another option.

I considered a variety of solutions, including the Veritas in-line vise, a Rocker Auto-Lock T-Track clamp (inspired by Dema's workbench), or wedges, but settled on the Armor Tools Auto-pro. It offers the convenience of the Rockler Auto-Lock T-Track, but also fit right into 3/4" dog holes, allowing for easy alignment with my strip of dog holes.

The Auto-Pro is a very clever clamping device. The dog is a 2-part construction, slightly undersized from 3/4", and tightening up on the large red screw spreads out the dog to wedge it into the dog hole. Clamping pressure can be adjusted by either (a) adjusting the pressure screw or (b) positioning the clamp face prior to pressing down the lever.

As a end-vise solution, the Auto-Pro hits the mark, offering the ease of positioning and applying pressure. However it falls short on a few areas:
  1. The height of the clamp face is just shy of 3/4", requiring me to insert spacers. This reduces the effective length of my workbench when working with thinner stock (see picture 2).
  2. Between dialing in the screw and positioning the clamp foot, it's rather hard to dial in the right pressure. This generally means that thinner stock gets lifted when using a spacer (see picture 3).
  3. The V-notch makes it great to clamp at a corner or round objects, but not so good when trying to hold thinner stock.

All in all, I think I was fighting a losing battle of compromises. For my first workbench, I was trying to go for as inexpensive as possible and I believe this guy fit the bill for my limited hand tool use. For a tail vise substitute, I would give it a far lower review (2 stars since this is my main use for it). However as a clamping tool that works on a workbench with dogs, it does a fantastic job (worthy of at least a 4 stars as I've used it for clamping too). Average that out, and you have my 3 star rating.