Best Bench Vises for True Handymen

Review & Comparison, Last Update October 25, 2017
Any do-it-yourselfer knows how important is to secure a piece while working with it. This is where a bench vise comes in handy, providing you with an extra set of robust hands to keep work bits in place and secured. In this review you will find the 5 best bench vises and we’re more than sure you will find an appropriate model to fit your needs. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2017
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Jaw width
Jaw opening
Throat depth
Swivel base
Weight
Warranty
 
PROS

The rubber washers on the handle provide a comfortable grip and prevent your hand from slipping. The all-round swiveling base lends you a helping hand during different jobs. 

CONS

The lead screw has a stiff spring and may require more thorough greasing.

OUR VERDICT

Should you need a robust and solid tool for handling large pieces such as plumbing pipes, blades, etc., the Yost Tools 445 will become the right choice.

detailed parameters
Jaw width

4.5"

Jaw opening

4"

Throat depth

2-5/8"

Swivel base

Yes, 360°

Weight

17 lbs

Warranty

1 year

PROS

The anvil on the front of the tool is big enough to be used as a work surface for straightening nails and driving rivets.

CONS

The mounting holes might need re-drilling.

OUR VERDICT

This bench vise is perfectly suitable for most of the medium-duty jobs and can become an appropriate choice for car repairmen and metalworkers.

detailed parameters
Jaw width

3-15/16"

Jaw opening

3"

Throat depth

2-1/8"

Swivel base

Yes, 120°

Weight

14.9 lbs

Warranty

Lfetime warranty

PROS

Two flutes on both jaws provide a firm grip of large parts, that's particularly beneficial for bending or drilling.

CONS

The model comes substantially greased, so be careful not to get dirty.

OUR VERDICT

If you need a robust bench vise without expensive bells and whistles for performing simple jobs, consider the Wilton 11104. 

detailed parameters
Jaw width

4"

Jaw opening

4"

Throat depth

2-1/4"

Swivel base

Yes, 120°

Weight

~ 17 lbs

Warranty

Lifetime warranty

PROS

The vise is pretty small and will easily find its place on any workbench.

CONS

The unit may go loose in base.

OUR VERDICT

A light weight and affordable price make this model suitable for DIYers and handymen for who every inch of space in their shops is crucial.

detailed parameters
Jaw width

4.5"

Jaw opening

3"

Throat depth

2.63"

Swivel base

Yes, 240"

Weight

6 lbs

Warranty

1 year

PROS

Two lead screws keep the jaws parallel and thus provide accurate grip. The unit mounts on any surface up to 2" thick.

CONS

A workpiece might slip owing to the flat jaws.

OUR VERDICT

Designed mostly for small jobs, the IRWIN 226303ZR can also serve as a useful addition to a full-scale vise. Perfect for handling flat pieces of wood and plastic.

detailed parameters
Jaw width

3"

Jaw opening

2"

Throat depth

1-5/8"

Swivel base

N/A

Weight

~ 4.2 lbs

Warranty

Lifetime warranty

What is a Bench Vise?

Oftentimes, handymen need to perform some jobs that require a secure grip. Sharpening blades of a lawnmower, loosening a rusted nut, etc. cannot possibly be done completely safely without a bench vise. In present days, a bench vise is a must-have appliance in any workshop, with the aid of which it's become possible to bend, file, sharpen, or squeeze metal and wooden workpieces easily, quickly and conveniently. From a wide variety of models presented on the market, we've picked the 5 most popular and frequently purchased bench vises suitable for small and medium-duty jobs that may include grinding, cutting, drilling, etc.

What Features to Compare

Jaws
Choosing a bench vise for your workshop, first of all, make sure to consider the width of the jaw opening and the vise throat depth to know, with what pieces the bench vise will work better - big pipes or small objects. For sizeable vises, the wider the jaw opening is the better, although when it comes to small models, the rule doesn't apply in this case. Too wide jaw opening in small vises may weaken the grip and as a result, diminish the accuracy of your work. So, keep this in mind. The depth of throat is another important parameter which will tell you at what depth the piece can be placed between the jaws.    

Mounting
The mounting type is another point to decide on. There are two installation types to consider - bench-mountable vises and clamp-on vises. The bench-mountable models are affixed to a worktop with bolts or heavy-duty screws to stay securely in place. Naturally, they are much more appropriate for high-load jobs. The downside is, they aren't as portable as those with clamps and therefore, might be quite problematic to move around. In this regard, clamp-on vises offer better mobility. They are usually quite lightweight, suitable for small accurate jobs and can be set on any flat surface. Choosing between the two, you should decide what's more important for you - portability or stability. 

Features
Have you decided to opt for a bench-mountable vise, consider whether the model has a swiveling base for adjusting a position of workpieces. Should you need to handle pipes and other circular produce, go for a vise with auxiliary concave or serrated jaws that allow a safer (and firmer too) grip. You will also benefit from buying a vise with an anvil that may come in useful in jobs requiring nail straightening, rivet clinching, etc. 

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Yost Tools 445

Designed For Heavy-Duty Work

The distinguishing feature of the Yost Tools 445 is that it combines the functionality of three different tools - flat jaws, pipe jaws, and an anvil, which, considering its price tag, makes it a worthy tool. The jaws feature removable steel plates with fine serrations for a stronger grip with flat workpieces. The width of the jaw is  4.5" and can be extended 4 inches up to fit bigger bits. The depth of the throat is 2.625”; even though it is not too deep, it is more than enough to process mid-sized parts like handsaw blades, for example. The lead screw is discreetly hidden inside the U-shape channel that protects it from chippings and dirt thereby prolonging its service life. The Yost Tools 445 is made out of cast iron and is capable of holding the load up to 30,000 PSI. 

Review of Yost Tools 445 Pipe and Bench Vise

No Probmem to Cut a Pipe

Grooved cast-in jaws below the main jaws are designed to be used for pieces with a diameter of 0.125” to 2", which is typical of standard water supply pipes. These pipe jaws come in very handy when the top jaws fail to provide the needed level of grip. While the platform located at the front of the vise may come in useful serving as an anvil for doing bending or riveting jobs (keep in mind, it won't be suitable for hard hammering jobs). The body of the vise is coated with blue powder paint that helps prevent corrosion and at the same time makes it more resistant to moisture, scratches, and impacts. 

Yost Tools 445 Pipe and Bench Vise in the use

Set It as You Wish

The best part about this model of bench vise is that it's got a swiveling base that not only provides better stability but also allows for enhanced adjustability when handling parts of different sizes. This base can also be bolted to just about any bench regardless of the material it's made of. The package includes a handy template that can help you drill holes and mount the vise. 

Detailed review of Yost Tools 445 Pipe and Bench Vise

You Hands Will Be Safe

To make the tool more convenient for use, the handle has rubber washers due to which holding it in hands is safer and much more comfortable.

Yost Tools 445 Pipe and Bench Vise application

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


Yost Tools 445
Yost Tools 445
 

Tekton 54004

Work on Whatever You Desire

The Tekton 54004 is the robust bench vise made of quality materials and suitable for a wide variety of medium-duty jobs. The tool is made of cast iron; the jaws and spindle are cast in steel. This makes it strong enough to withstand high loads and strokes, even if they are applied to the anvil. With the Tekton 54004, you will be able to perform all kinds of jobs requiring sharpening, filing, bending, etc. The 4" jaws with fluted pads can grip and hold various bits and parts tightly in place, preventing them from moving. It is fair to say that flutes aren't recommended for handling soft materials, as they can actually leave dents in them. Therefore, whenever processing wood or plastic, make sure to remove them. Using plastic or rubber pads instead can become a good alternative for those of you who don't want to take much trouble replacing fluted pads. 

Review of Tekton 54004 Swivel Bench Vise

Twice Securer

Speaking of installation, the Tekton 54004 offers quite versatile mounting options. It can easily be placed on any workbench regardless the material. The stout base with three 3/8" holes offers a reliable prop for the vise. For greater convenience, the base swivels round 120°, which may come in especially handy when sharpening something. The base is easily fastened with the help of two bar-handle screw clamps which not only provide stronger fixation but also allow for even distribution of the load over the vise. We'd also like to take a note of a smooth-running spindle that doesn't seem to ever jam. We believe the enclosed chamber of the lead screw has something to do with it. 

Tekton 54004 Swivel Bench Vise in the use

For Hammerings Jobs

Another great point about the Tekton 54004 is its big anvil which can be used as a shoe for bending metal straps or driving rivets. Car mechanics and metalworkers will surely appreciate it. The black powder coating on the anvil protects it from harmful external impacts and helps make less prone to scratches and oily stains.   

Detailed review of Tekton 54004 Swivel Bench Vise

For Midsized Works

By appearance, this vise looks massive which may confuse you a bit. Its depth throat, though, isn't as big and fits only workpieces measured at 3" deep. 

Tekton 54004 Swivel Bench Vise application

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


Tekton 54004
Tekton 54004
 

Wilton 11104

When You Need a Vise Only

The Wilton 11104 is a compact-sized vise suitable for handling both metal and wood. The 4" jaws provide a firm grip and can be opened 4" up to accommodate bigger bits, which isn't bad at all, seeing the small size of the vise. On the immovable jaw are located upright grooves that help fix pieces of round shape. The jaw pads are removable and can be replaced when worn out. The Wilton 11104 is made of high-strength steel and covered with a blue powder coating. It has a high-quality overall build with no hollows or burrs and is well resistant to quite strong blows (although it is not recommended to hammer it hard). The lead screw is placed inside the enclosure that protects it from filings and dirt and prevents the spindle grease from drying out too quickly.

Review of Wilton 11104 Bench Vise

A Bit About Ergonomics

Speaking of ergonomics, the manufacturer decided not to reinvent the wheel and chose to go a classic route. The bench vise rests upon the swiveling base that allows for convenient sharpening and cutting and features two screw clamps for fastening. Like most bench vises, the Wilton 11104 comes with a convenient handle fused at both sides to provide a firm grip. However, considering that it doesn't have any rubber inserts, you may still want to wear some rubber gloves or rings for safer operation.

Wilton 11104 Bench Vise in the use

Choose The Place

The vise can be mounted to any workbench. You will only need to anchor it down to some flat surface. Choose the installation place wisely, as it may take you quite a lot of time and effort to demount it later on.

Detailed review of Wilton 11104 Bench Vise

Suitable For Any Material

As we've already mentioned, the pads here are removable, which means, the tool is compatible with a vast variety of different pads besides those from a set. This feature will come in handy for those consumers having to process a great amount of materials of different textures on a daily basis.

Wilton 11104 Bench Vise application

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


Wilton 11104
Wilton 11104
 

Yost Tools LV-4

Nice Choice to Start

Looking through a variety of models of bench vises, we've picked the 5 best models according to different parameters. The Yost Tools LV-4 has got our fancy due to its affordable price and ease of use. Similarly to most other bench vises, this model is made out of heavy-duty 30,000 PSI cast iron and has detachable steel pads that can be customized with pads made from other materials. As it is typical of the Yost Tools models, the base of the tool swivels 240 degrees round, allowing for its comfortable use when sharpening metal, for example. The model is not only affordable but also very compact and lightweight, which makes it an attractive option for do-it-yourselvers working at remote locations and those who don't need a bulky thing in their workshop. 

Review of Yost Tools LV-4 Home Vise

Accessory Lever

We'd also like to take a note of a thoughtful construction of this bench vise. In this model, the main screw and the guiding bar are located close enough to the jaws, enabling users to handle workpieces with higher accuracy and with less effort. The location of the guiding bar just slightly below the screw has made it possible to reinforce the construction, with the alignment of jaws becoming more precise. The presence of the pipe jaws is yet another great point of this tool, enabling DIY-ers and handymen to work not only with flat workpieces but also with metal tubes, pipes, and other objects with a diameter of up to 1.85". At the front of the vise, you will find an anvil. It is pretty small and suitable for only a handful of jobs such as forging, drilling small pieces, chiseling wires, straightening nails, but nothing serious that may damage the tool. 

Yost Tools LV-4 Home Vise in the use

Mount Permanently

Although this bench vise is pretty lightweight and easy to carry, it is designed for being mounted to a workbench. And, we believe this is the right thing to do. Despite overall compact dimensions, the Yost Tools LV-4 can be used for processing quite big pieces of metal. If that's what you think you will need to use it for too, fixing it securely in place will definitely be required. 

Detailed review of Yost Tools LV-4 Home Vise

Useful Tip

Since the LV-4 is made with the lead screw being exposed, we recommend keeping it clean and grease it regularly. Doing so, you will prolong the lifetime of the vise and enjoy its flawless performance for years to come.

Yost Tools LV-4 Home Vise application

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


Yost Tools LV-4
Yost Tools LV-4
 

IRWIN 226303ZR

When Size Matters

Should you need a small clamp-on vise to take along, the IRWIN 226303ZR will meet the need. Having the bantam weight and size, the vise yet can grip anything up to 2" wide. Carpenters and cabinetmakers will surely appreciate a very smooth surface of the jaws that make it a perfect tool for handling pliable materials like wood and plastic. For harder pieces, though, it may not work as good. Without enough skills and practice, it can even ruin their finish. Therefore, decide on the purpose of use of the tool before making a purchase. The IRWIN 226303ZR does not have removable pads, which imposes the need of using some additional rubber (or plastic) pieces to keep the jaws and workpieces securely in place. What we like about this model of bench vise is that its two guide bars are located in a parallel way. Such arrangement of bars made it possible to make the grip stronger while the work more accurate. 

Review of IRWIN 226303ZR Clamp-On Bench Vise

It's Right Where You Need It

Versatility is probably one of the best things about the IRWIN 226303ZR. You will not have any difficulty in finding the right installation spot for it. The mounting screw clamp allows you to affix it to just about any worktop that is around 2" thick. The only drawback of the clamp is that it isn't very strong and that it might be quite tricky to secure it in place. Understanding users' concerns, the manufacturer provided the base with two additional openings, allowing for anchoring the unit down to the surface permanently. 

IRWIN 226303ZR Clamp-On Bench Vise in the use

Fits For Every Work

The fishtail-like claws on one of the sides of the bench vise will come in useful for hobbyists and all those being serious about modeling airplanes, vehicles, etc., providing them with the ability to work with tiny pieces of round and cylindrical shapes. 

Detailed review of IRWIN 226303ZR Clamp-On Bench Vise

Riveting? Easy!

Just like most other models, this clamp-on vise features a flat bulge that can be used as anvil. It's not awesome for effortful tasks, yet you can make use of it when doing some bending or riveting jobs.

IRWIN 226303ZR Clamp-On Bench Vise application

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


IRWIN 226303ZR
IRWIN 226303ZR
 

FAQ:

Q: How to install a bench vise?
A: If you deal with a clamp-on vise, put it at the front edge of your workbench. If you are a leftie, position it towards the right and if you are right-handed, face it to the left side. A vise may include wooden jaw liners that project beyond the vise edge. Placing the tool at the edge of the workbench, you will accommodate these liners. Arrange the vise base flush with the bench top or just a little below, approximately 1/2". If required, place a spacer between the underside of the bench and the vise. Use washers and lag screws to fasten the vise if your bench top is 2" thick or more. Countersink the screws and plug the holes to prevent the damage of work and tool. Secure the vise with carriage bolts if your workbench is under 2" thick. Insert the bolts and tighten with washers and nuts. Like with lag screws, countersink the bolts below the bench top and plug the holes.

As for a bench-top vise, place it on an end of the workbench. Commonly, a vise is positioned on the left side of the workbench for right-handed users. Set the vise on the workbench and point the locations of the holes on the bench through the vise base. If your workbench is more than 2" thick, fasten the vise with lag screws, having drilled pilot holes about half the diameter of screws. Fix a vise with carriage bolts if you've got a thinner bench. Tighten the lag screws and nuts of carriage bolts with a spanner. Using carriage bolts, arrange them so that the nut and extended end of the bolt are under the bench to prevent your knuckles from scraping.

Q: How to maintain a vise?
A: As most vises are made of cast iron or steel, they tend to perform poorly when exposed to water. The finish can halt corrosion for a while, but eventually, water will win and your vise will rust. To avoid that, thoroughly wipe you vise down and let it dry out after each use. Cover your vise when not in use, this will provide enduring protection and you won’t have to worry about its integrity.

As vises contain moving and threaded parts, it's nice to lubricate them from time to time. Each vise manufacturer has the own recommendations regarding lubricants for with their tools, however, the dry graphite lubricant tends to be favorite as it prevents accumulation of dust and smudge much more effectively than wet greases. Despite this fact, wet lubricants can also be employed, and if you use one, apply it on your vise diligently to reduce the probability of a dirt buildup.

If your vise features the pads with serrated pads, check them for damage regularly and change them as soon as the jags get dull.


Sources:

1. Choosing a Bench ViseInstructables.

2. Roger Johns Choosing Clamps and Vises, Scout. August 21, 2014.

3. Vise, Wikipedia.

4. All About VisesPopular Woodworking Magazine. February 19, 2015.

5. Bob Vila Woodworking Vise Guide, BobVila.

6. Your Guide To Buying a Vise, eBay. April 14, 2014.

7. A Guide to Vises, ThomasNet.

8. What is a Bench Vise? wiseGEEK.

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Publish Date: 2017-06-30 08:12:56